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A colleague is a Martina Cole fan and often recommends her books or similar to me, and I have recently come to the conclusion that they are not for me. I'd had this book lurking on my shelves for years and decided a gritty crime read may be what I was looking for at the time. At over 600 pages it isn't a quick read.
Marie Carter has just been released from prison after 12 years for killing her two friends, whilst in a drug induced haze and she can remember none of it. Her family (apart from her dad) don't want to know her and she is living in a hostel for ex-prisoners trying to get on the straight and narrow so that she can build a relationship up with her kids, which she neglected whilst on drugs and on the game.
We also hear from her daughter Tiffany who has a daughter by the father of her half-brother (do try to keep up!) and is being manipulated onto drugs and the game herself. Meanwhile said ex-boyfriend of both mother and daughter, Patrick, has plans to be the biggest thug in the South East. Don't you just love a man with a bit of ambition....
We are constantly told that Marie had a bad hand dealt her and was unlucky, so we feel sympathy for her. All men adore her and would do anything to have this double-murderess in their life. Women are threatened by her beauty, (undamaged presumably by all the years on drugs) but mostly also drawn to her. There is a twist that you can see coming 500 pages off, meanwhile we have to endure foul-mouthed misogynistic, violent rants by Patrick on what he is going to do to Tiffany or Marie. I'm no prude but if you removed all the swearing the book wold be a lot shorter!
In summation - there is a weak plot, badly drawn characters, you are spoon-fed what you are supposed to think, and the writing style was so bad it just made me cringe. Cole sells millions of books, she must be doing something right, but it just isn't for me.
The main character in Faceless is Marie, released from prison after serving 12 years for murdering her 2 friends. Prior to her imprisonment Marie was addicted to drink and drugs and has no recollection of how, why or even if she commited the murders of her friends. She awoke to find herself covered in their blood next to their bodies. After serving her time and aquiring qualifiations Marie has to come back and face her old world, where she left a son and daughter whom she had whilst a young teenager. Her quest is to win them back but this is easier said than done as nearly everyone from her past has disowned her for her actions. She is woman on a mission for revenge and the twists and turns throughout the book keep you gripped. A complete page turner which keeps you guessing throughout is completley typical to the Martina Cole style we know and love. I loved this book and read it within days. Although not for the faint hearted due to the explicit language and violence, this is another absolute credit to Martina Cole.
Review of 'Faceless' a novel by Martina Cole
Faceless is an emotional, dramatic novel from the pen of author Martina Cole. Faceless is her eighth out of fifteen novels. My copy is a large sized paperback format, the book is also available in hard back and standard sized paperback.
Martina Cole has carved a name for herself in the world of the shady criminal underworld, she writes of East End London violence, prostitution and corruption with a distinctly realistic eye. Her novels are not for the faint hearted, the violence and language alone can make for uncomfortable reading, but her gripping, page turning style of writing have made her a Queen of this genre of novel. Martina's character are believable, if sometimes unlikable and are drawn from life experience. In the forward of this particular novel she tells of her research when she spoke to an old friend, a prostitute who gave her the idea for the title of this book, Faceless. The prostitute told Martina that she and women like her were the 'faceless' ones of society and this became the title.
Marie Carter, an ex-prostitute, drug addict and drinker, has just been released from prison where she served 11 years for the double murders of two of her friends. Marie has no recollection of the crime, only that she had been drinking and taking drugs and awoke to find her friends dead and herself covered with their blood. Prison has dried her out, cleaned her of drugs and allowed her to achieve two degrees in English Literature and I.T., something she could never have dreamed of in her previous life where she was a 15 year old first time mother, a mother of two by 17, living a life of drugs, drink and working in the sex industry.
Marie has lost everything, her children were taken into care, her family have disowned her and she has no job, no hope and no friends. She finds herself back on the streets of London now a woman in her thirties. Her children have grown up since Marie's imprisonment and are now 19 and 17 years old. They have refused through social workers to be reunited with their mother.
The story follows Marie's quest to build a new life for herself and to find the answers to her many questions as to what happened the night her friends died and what her involvement was, she wants closure and retribution. She is unaware that as she delves and watches she is being watched herself.
The outcome is an emotional disturbing one, which I will not divulge here for fear of spoiling the book for would be readers!
A woman looking for answers.
Marie's one time boyfriend, pimp and the father of her son, Jason.
Louise and Kevin Carter:
Marie's parents, her father would welcome Marie back to the family fold, but Louise cannot forgive or forget.
Marie's daughter. A chip off her mother's block
Lucy Carter and Mickey Watson:
Marie's sister and her boyfriend
Prostitute and acquaintance from Marie's past, a woman with an eye for the main chance.
Marie's son by Patrick Connor.
Marie's brother, who killed himself shortly after Marie went to prison.
Marie's boss, a man who gives her a chance to prove herself.
**About the author**
Martina Cole was born in Essex in 1958. She still lives in Tilbury Essex, close to her roots. Her first child was born when she was in her teens and she later went on to have a daughter. Martina Cole wrote her first novel, Dangerous Lady, when she was 20 years old, but she kept it in a drawer for over a decade before deciding to revisit the story and have it published. Her book went straight into the top of the best sellers lists a position she has regularly achieved since with her other novels. Martina left school aged 15 and is still a down to earth Essex girl.
Martina Cole's website can be found at :
First published 2001
Headline Book Publishing
338 Euston Road,
Cover price: (large paperback format)
Check for used prices on:
www.amazon.co.uk or www.ebay.co.uk
A gripping storyline with a wealth of twists and turns. At times uncomfortable, even gruesome reading, but a real page turner from a popular British female author. I particularly like the fact that Martina Cole invariably includes a strong female character in her novels, usually an 'anti-hero'. I would recommend this novel to others as a fast moving, strong emotional drama.
Martina Cole novels are not for everyone, the strong language and raw sexual content may offend some readers.
C brittle1906 February 2009
NB Review has been published on peazyshop.co.uk & Ciao.co.uk
I acquired this book the way I acquire most of the books in my collection
I pinched it from my mum! I do always plan to return them but somehow can never remember to
.. Sorry Mum.
Ok first of all a little bit about the author, Martina Cole lives in Essex with her son, she has written 7 books previous to this one, which I haven't yet read but do plan to!
> Dangerous Lady
> The Ladykiller
> Goodnight Lady
> The Jump
> The Runaway
> Two Women
Her previous novel Broken shot straight into the bestsellers chart at number 2 so this says a lot for the author in my opinion! (This is on my to read list)
Faceless is one of those books you hate to put down and can't wait to pick back up!
The title of the book comes from an old friend of Martina's who was a prostitute most of her life, Anyway whilst sharing a bottle of wine together one evening this un-named woman said "we are faceless women, living faceless lives, our punters are faceless, If I took a bloke on and he came back ten minutes later I wouldn't even recognise him. If we met again in the supermarket we wouldn't know one another"
So that's where the title of the book came from.
After spending over 12 years in prison for the double murder of her 2 prostitute friends Marie Carter walks free with a huge desire to get in touch with her children.
This proves harder than she thinks; her family, friends and children have disowned her. Only her father comes round as she was always his golden girl.
12 years and 10mths ago Marie was a prostitute drug addict and alcoholic! She woke up in a haze covered in the blood and stench of her 2 friends. She does not know why she killed them, How she killed them or What had made her do it? These remain questions unanswered until much later in the book (I won't tell you what happens as it would spoil the story)
At the age of 15 she gave birth to Tiffany and at 17 to Jason, She was a bad mother often getting wasted on drugs and alcohol rather than looking after her children. She had dumped them on her family.
Her daughter Tiffany, now 19 is now mother to little Anastasia, she is addicted to cocaine and is a stripper, Following in her mothers footsteps?
Her lover and daughter's father is Patrick Connor, who right from the start we learn is a no-good pimp and drug dealer. He is also her mother's ex, and her brother's father! Confused yet? Read the book it all becomes very clear!
We find out more about Pat Connor as the story progresses .
Jason, now 17 was taken into care as a child, when his mother was convicted. His adoptive parents are a bit against him meeting his real mother when they discover she is free!
Marie's mother and sister have disowned her a long time ago, but her father still meets her after her release (secretly) We see a very strong character emerge as Marie battles to get her children back, to get them to trust her and to find out what happened the night she was arrested ..Is it all as clear cut as it once suggested?
I don't really want to give too much of the storyline away but this is really a fantastic book.
I found this book to be one of those books that you really don't want to put down once you have picked it up .It is full of suspense and a bit of a thriller, It is a subject which unfortunately is relevant to the world today, Many people will empathise with the characters and others will be appalled at how the characters seem so true.
In a short summarisation I would advise anyone to read this book as it is one of my current favourites and has whetted my appetite to read more of Martina Cole's works.
The copy I have is in hardback format, not sure how much my mum paid for it, but there will be links on Ciao for different retailers and you can always get books on amazon, ebay and such sites cheaper than other shops.
Thanks for reading my first book review!
Following a book sale at work, I found myself in possession of yet another Martina Cole novel, having so enjoyed the other two titles of this authors that I have in my possession. It is probably understandable that I had expected something in the same vein as the previous two books, and for the author to follow a similar formula. However, this was not the case with Faceless at all; rather than find another piece of formulaic writing by this novelist, I was pleasantly surprised to be experiencing something totally different . And delighted to realise that this was a much more mature read.
Marie Carter is now a woman in her 30s, who has spent the last 12 years of her life incarcerated for the murder of her two best friends, whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Released into society and with a minimal support network, Marie demonstrates enormous strength of character in trying to get back into the lives of the children that she left behind when she was sent to prison. Not only were these children left without a mother at a fairly tender age, they were totally abandoned my Maries family; her mother, father and sister, and were left in the hands of foster families and the care system.
A decade on, Marie is horrified to find her daughter about to let history repeat itself by following in her mothers footsteps with her ex-lover and drug dependency, and is gutted to discover that her son does not want to see her. This is largely due to rumours fuelled by her family and her ex-lover about what kind of woman she is.
However, with hard work and a will of steel, Marie gets a job and tries to get her life together, to enable her to get back into the lives of her children.
As you would expect, after 12 years inside re-adjusting to society is not the easiest thing to do and the author conveys the issues and difficulties associated with this, very well. To get to her daughter, and to try and influence her life, Marie finds that she has to re-immerse herself in the East End underworld and criminal and drugs networks, in order to make any progress. This is, of course, a great challenge for her but more than a decade in prison has prepared her well, and made her grow immensely in terms of inner strength and self composure. These traits serve her well on the dark, painful journey that she embarks on in this part of her journey.
This is one book that I have read recently where the twist in the tale is actually somewhat obvious from the beginning (in my opinion) and I still enjoyed reading the book even though the conclusion was exactly as I had anticipated.
This is because the writing in this novel is fluid, the characterisation is excellent, and the story is well told, making it both a gripping and compelling read and there were indeed times when I just did NOT want to put this down.
This is where Martina Cole stands head and shoulders above many other authors today. Her characters are so intensely believable and the way that she writes about them demands a certain level of personal empathy from the reader.
Her strong suit is headstrong, independent, wilful East End women and on this level, and this level only, this book could be considered formulaic in that it replicates the other Martina Cole novels I have read. But although Marie is one of those strong East End women, involved in the murky criminal underworld of the same, there is something significantly different about this character and that is the level of intelligence with which she is portrayed. In fact, her character comes across as so intelligent that you do wonder how she ever came to be in the situation that she is.
I was also pleased to discover that this story did not have the same general disrespect for the male of the species as the previous two offerings from Cole that Ive encountered. Yes, of course, there are bad characters in this book; after all were brought into contact with some really seedy, violent characters and there is one in particular that is so vile that he may turn your stomach. However, there are also likeable men in this book, such as Maries father, whos own story is told in parallel to Maries and is pivotal to the overall plot of the story.
In my opinion, the low points of this book are limited, but as with any book review, a balanced opinion is called for. I felt that although there were some additional characters in this story, which appeared to be quite significant, that their characterisation was somewhat underdeveloped. For me, this included Maries mother and her sister, both of whom were portrayed as bitter, twisted, jealous women who blamed Maries past for everything that happened to them. I believe that the author could have gone further with the development of these characters than she did.
Editorially, I felt that more could have been done with the writing to make it more exciting but this really is a minor flaw and doesnt detract greatly from the impetus of the book or make it any less compelling a read.
My final criticism is the same with any Martina Cole book Ive read and that is that the ending is too neat and tidy. All loose ends are tied up, and there is very little left to the imagination. It would be difficult to see how any sequel could result from a Martina Cole novel because everything is finished and the story reaches such a definitive conclusion. Whilst its good to have some loose ends resolved, I personally prefer there to be some things in a book where my imagination is left to ponder and create my own conclusions.
This is my favourite Martina Cole novel to date. Although the East End criminal underworld is present and the levels of violence and corruption are really no less than her other stories, it is presented in a much more mature way. This could be due to the fact that the main character here is conveyed with an intelligence not found in characters in her other books; I dont know.
The story flows well, and I really found myself wanting to know what happened next, and found myself reading this at every possible opportunity. For me, this also demonstrated how clever Cole is and was concrete proof that she is not always a formulaic writer and can turn her hand to different styles, and do it well.
The level at which she seems knowledgeable about the shady world of which she writes, does make me wonder where she draws her experiences from! However, it is this same knowledge that makes these stories so intriguing and believable and so perhaps its better not to question?
This is definitely modern day fiction and not for the faint hearted. I have no doubt that Ill be reading more of this author soon.
If you enjoy the thriller/mystery genre, you could do a lot worse than pick up a Martina Cole novel. Like me, youll probably find it enjoyable.
Available in paperback, published by headline for £6.99
Available from Amazon for £5.59 (new) and from £0.44 (used)
Seen on EBay from £0.90
Thanks for reading.
© Christina ;-) x
After having really enjoyed the last Martina Cole book I read, it wasnt long before I decided to start another one. This time I picked Faceless and once again, I soon became engrossed in the action and finished the 629-page novel in just a few days.
While Coles books can be seen as formulaic, I felt this one was rather different. Usually the heroine is happily embroiled in the world of crime, but this time Marie Carter is trying to escape all ties with the seedier side of life.
She has been in prison for twelve years for a double murder. When she finishes her sentence and returns to the outside world, she has to stay out of trouble to fulfil the conditions of her release. Her main priorities are seeing her family again and regaining some semblance of a normal life.
She has a difficult start. Her mother shuns her and she is attacked by Karen Black, the sister of one of her murder victims. But she gets a job working for Alan Jarvis and picks up the threads of her life one by one.
Being imprisoned for so long meant that she has completely lost touch with her two children. Jason was adopted by a nice middle class family, but her daughter Tiffany wasnt so lucky. She seems to be following a very similar path to the one her mother took pregnant while young, prostitution, drugs. Furthermore, the man that was responsible for Maries downfall Patrick Connor seems equally responsible for Tiffanys.
We follow Marie as she tries to rebuild her life and ditch the murderess tag. As with all of Coles heroines, she is a strong woman who you admire and feel you know very well. Coles characterisation is one of her strengths and it was interesting to see her writing about a new kind of woman.
As usual in her books, Martina Cole emphasises the family. Not the family as a political ideal, but as a reality. Here, each family has faults, weaknesses and plenty of skeletons both in and out of the cupboard.
Marie Carters family consists of her parents and sister Lucy, after her brother Marshall committed suicide shortly after Maries imprisonment. Their mother Louise idolised Marshall to the detriment of everyone else, which has led to Lucy being weak and whiny, Kevin being a hen-pecked and bullied husband and Louise herself being a bitter and angry woman.
Louise blames everything on Marie, but as events unfold and the past starts coming back in little pieces, a new angle becomes visible. It appears that things were not as clear as it was thought.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book and savoured every page, I do have a few minor criticisms. I dont like including spoilers but cant give a balanced review without doing so. Therefore please can anyone who has not read this book, but would like to, skip the next four paragraphs. Thanks.
I became annoyed at the large chunks of pages taken up by Marie feeling guilty. After a while, it began to grate and by the end, it did stink of padding! Despite loving the character of Marie, I could happily have shoved her guilt up her backside with a firework.
Verbena seemed to change from devil to angel in a heartbeat. Although I could understand her jealousy, her outbursts just seemed a little too exaggerated and then a few chapters on, she was nice and calm again. Huh?
It also annoyed me that I kept picturing her as black. I dont know whether it was her name or something, but even the odd mention of her blonde hair didnt detract from the image in my head.
When Alan died, we didnt really get chance to see any reaction from Marie. It was bad enough with Mikey, but at least it was mentioned, although I felt her response was too muted. But with Alan, he died and what? She didnt care? I felt these parts were a bit rushed. Perhaps if Cole had spent less time whining about Maries guilt, they could both have had a proper literary send off.
OKAY SPOILERS OVER!!
But overall, the book was really good. It was exciting, entertaining, fast-paced and well written. The characters are interesting, well painted and believable. It provides everything you want a book like this to do escapism, intrigue, drama and a damn good story.
I really do recommend Martina Coles books. The biggest compliment I can have to a review like this is for you all to go out and buy a copy, read it and review it yourself. Even if you dont think this is your kind of thing, please give her novels a try. Go on. Just for me.
FACELESS by Martina Cole
Published by Headline
Paperback cover price £6.99
Eleven years ago Marie Carter was convicted of killing her two best friends. And she's paid the price. Now she is being released from prison. It's time to go home. But time has stood still for Marie, and she has nowhere to go. Her parents have disowned her; her friends have abandoned her; even her kids don't want to know. But some people out there do care - particularly when they know that Marie Carter is out for revenge.