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Things are about to get dangerous
Dangerous Lady - Martina Cole
Member Name: bilbob20
Dangerous Lady - Martina Cole
Advantages: Fascinating and gripping read
Disadvantages: Its somewhat graphic which might not be everybody's cup of tea
I have become a bit of an avid reader of Martina Cole since discovering her brilliantly written "The Runaway" on holiday earlier this year. Having also watched the finely adapted Sky 1 production of the show, it prompted me to seek out other work by the London-based author. What better place to start than at the beginning with her very first published novel.
Like many of her novels, "Dangerous Lady" begins its life in the gritty East End of London during the 50's. Instantly introducing charismatic Michael Ryan, the eldest of the Ryan clan, the story also begins with the introduction of the youngest Ryan child "Maura". Through the years, Michael becomes notorious around London for his ferocious temper and gangland connections. Determined to bring his family out of the gutter, and provide what his drunken father cant, Michael sleeps his way into the right circles and eventually takes over the many rackets and rings that his partner Joe originally orchestrated.
As the years go on, and with Michael becoming increasingly powerful, his relationship with his mother becomes increasingly fraught. Things take a turn for the worse, when she disapproves of sister Maura entering what has become a family business. Notorious for her ice maiden approach and frosty exterior, it becomes Maura's goal to protect her brother, at any cost to herself and her relationship with the other members of her family. However, as Michael begins to derail, Maura finds herself more and more out of her depth. Will Michael's erratic and uncontrollable nature be the downfall off the Ryan family?
Cole presents similar themes in all of her books. Set against the backdrop of 1950s London, where gangsters ruled the roost, she presents a somewhat gritty vision of that time. She also lends authenticity to the story by placing real elements of that time, such as the suggestion that the Ryan's are mildly associated with the Krays. This is something Cole does very well, placing her action at the centre of times and places that the reader will identify with. If the story is somewhat overly-graphic, she compensates that with well rounded characters, excellently paced drama and a heart that is missing from many British crime novels. What Cole essentially does is create crime thrillers that have themes of romance, betrayal and poverty weaved throughout them, giving them more depth and more appeal to a wider audience.
Dangerous Lady was indeed Cole's first book, published in 1992, and is available in paperback. The book became a movie a few years later and also spawned sequel Maura's Game ten years later. Available from all good book stores, you can pick up a copy from amazon for as little as a penny plus postage. It's a great introduction to her work, and sets a high standard for her following novels to follow. Not for the faint hearted, and with much graphic violence, if you like your crime real and relentless, then this is a good place to start.
Summary: An utterly gripping read that'll hold your interest to the end