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As an avid Martina Cole fan, stating that this is her best novel is a big, bold statement. Her books are nearly always brilliant, but this one is fantastic. Some people have said that they guessed the killer earlier on, as did I, but the twists and turns kept you guessing (or doubting your original guess) right to the very end.
Hard Girls tells the story of the dangers of organised prostitution - a killer is going around killing prostitutes and Annie Carr is on the case.
The story sees the return of Kate Burrows and Patrick Kelly, characters that have appeared in numerous other Cole books. Carr enlists the help of Kate to track down the killer, yet they hit some snags when Kate's partner Patrick Kelly, a gangster, has some of his own prostitutes murdered. This leads to a conflict of opinions, and you find yourself watching the relationship between Kate, the cop, and Patrick, the gangster, fall apart. You will them to sort out their problems, whilst also urging Annie on to find the killer.
I don't want to say too much for fear of giving away the plot too much, but this is easily the best of Martina's novels. If you are a fan of Martina, and haven't read this book yet - I'd suggest you do so.
As an avid Martina Cole fan, I was excited for the release of "Hard Girls". I have to say that after a slighty slow start, it was fantastic to see the return of hardened DCI Kate Burrows and her up down relationship with local gangster Patrick Kelly. I enjoyed the characters in previous books and was glad of their return. Having said that I found the book to be slightly repetative and not of the usual adrenalin pumping action that I have experienced in the past with some of Martina Cole's better books. The story is set around a serial killer who is toturing and murdering prostitutes in the area. Kate Burrows, currently retired, returns to the force to nail the murderer after working on cases alike to this. The story was a little too easy to follow as there were none of the usual twists and turns. Attentions seemed to be paid to the detail of murder scenes and not to the actual plot itself. Readable but not one of authors best.
I got this book as a Christmas present and I have read a lot of Martina Cole books over the last few years, however its been a while between my last one and this one. This book is a fantastic account of the things that can go wrong with organised prostitution even in the privacy and safety of a home environment. I find Martina Cole writes her books in the down to earth way that is needed for a story like this to be reliable and a lot of the things she writes about could well be true. The characters in the book are pretty believable and its a book that I couldn't put down until I had seen it through to the end, and when it did end I wished it had gone on for a little bit longer. The only thing that I did find to be slightly irritating was the number of times some things were repeated.
This was the first book I read by Martina, and I'd been keen to see what all the fuss was about for a while. I picked this book due its unusual storyline.
The book begins when DCI Annie Carr finds the mutilated body of a murdered prostitute, a sight that disturbs her immensely. Annie soon discovers more bodies, all of working girls, and drafts in the help of ex-DCI Kate, an intelligent and experience police officer. She lives with an ex criminal, Patrick, who helps her to think like a convict...
As its a thriller, many characters are involved, but I found myself not liking most of them. Patrick regularly thinks about Kate's 'lack of looks', which made him seem shallow and completely unlikeable. Kate herself is moody and often unnecessarily mean, and while I liked Annie slightly more, she also had an unlikeable personality and was very much a push over.
While this is my first experience of Martina's writing, and many of her other books have excellent reviews, I didn't like the book and probably won't read any of the others. I guessed the killer early on, due to the huge clues, and spent most of the book willing the characters to work it out, too. The story got less and less realistic, and by the middle I was finding it hard to finish reading it.
The storyline was repetitive, and much like many other similar books. I struggled to imagine the crimes as being real, with all but the first one lacking detail and information, and almost being completely forgotten.
Review of Hard Girls, a novel by Martina Cole.
I am reviewing the hard backed version of this novel which was received as a Christmas present and read in two sittings!
About the Book
Hardback, dimensions 22.8 x 16 x 4 cm. ISBN 075532868X, published by Headline 29/10/2009, 448 pages, cover price £18.99. Genre:- Modern Fiction.
In Hard Girls, Martina Cole revisits the fictitious Essex town of Grantley, the home of DCI Kate Burrows and her partner, hard man and gangland chief, Patrick Kelly. These characters have appeared in previous Cole novels, and whilst Hard Girls is a stand alone novel, not a sequel or continuation, I found that it helped the plot along knowing a little of the characters previous exploits. That said, you definitely do not need to have read Lady Killer in order to appreciate this novel.
The plot begins with the discovery of a young, attractive prostitute's body. The girl, Daniella Crosby, had been brutally raped and mutilated in a truly horrendous fashion. Kate Burrows is now retired from the Police Force and works as a consultant to Grantley Police, as her expertise in the field of crimes committed by serial killers is legendary. Kate and her team are alerted to the possibility that a serial killer is on the loose when a second female escort is murdered.
The underworld of Grantley is investigated by Kate who leaves no stone unturned in her endeavours to catch the murderer. In a ruthless world where everybody seems to be out for themselves and has a hidden agenda, Kate and her team are hard pushed to find answers.
The stress of the case and facts uncovered, lead her relationship with Patrick Kelly to flounder. This leaves Kate feeling vulnerable and over the hill. Her team of female police officers are reduced to bitchiness and squabbles as the tension mounts. The case turns even more sour for Kate when she discovers that Patrick is a co-owner of properties used as bases by escort girls and prostitutes. Kate's credibility as a Police consultant is severely called into doubt and her life is turned upside-down as a result.
The team find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of uncovering information about colleagues, that they would have preferred not to know. The plot winds through so many twists and turns that as a reader, you have to keep on your toes! The characters are very well drawn and the plot is ingeniously crafted with plenty to keep your interest.
I won't divulge more here for fear of spoiling the novel for others.
~~*~~About the Author~~*~~
Martina Cole was born in 1958 and was brought up in Essex. Her first novel, Dangerous Lady, was an instant best-seller and became a highly successful TV drama series. Since then Martina Cole has written fifteen more best selling novels set in the criminal underworlds of London and Essex.
Ms Cole is no stranger to hardship and has taken many knocks in life herself. Her parents both died when she was young and by 18 years of age, she was living alone in a Tilbury council flat with her baby son. She began writing as a way of escaping her own problems. She has in her own words 'always been a grafter' and has built a comfortable life on the strength of her books. She has been married and divorced twice and has a son, a daughter and a grandchild. Martina Cole has taught creative writing to inmates at Wandsworth and Belmarsh prisons and is a patron of Chelmsford Women's Aid, which she says is her way of putting something back into society.
I have noticed that Martina Cole invariably dedicates her novels to family members and friends from her past, a very human touch in my opinion.
For further information about the author and a full index of her books, visit Headline and Martina's own website:-
~~*~~Availability and Price~~*~~
My copy bears the jacket price of £18.99 and as it was bought for me as a Christmas gift, I am unsure of where it was purchased. I have seen Hard Girls on display in stores such as WH Smith, Waterstones and Asda supermarket at various prices. It can of course also be purchased online from the myriad booksellers in cyberspace!
A quick search conducted this evening brought up the following prices:-
www.ebay.co.uk from £7.99
Obviously, I cannot guarantee these prices will still be relevant and the online retailer prices that I have listed, do not include P&P.
~~*~~My Thoughts and Conclusion~~*~~
I found Hard Girls to be a gripping and riveting novel, written in Martina Cole's usual gritty, compelling fashion.
Although the book is written in a tough, gutsy style and the subject matter, prostitutes being murdered, is not a comfortable one, this book is not quite as gruesome as some Martina Cole novels. It is still very readable and the plot twists and turns through out the book, keeping you guessing and your interest in the story line to the very last page. The characters are richly diverse, the scenes of the murders are painted in such a way that whilst you are in no doubt of the last moments of the victims, the unsaid says more than the said!
I received the novel on Christmas Day, started reading it in the evening of Boxing Day and finished the novel on December 27th, which I thought was pretty good going!.
As with most Martina Cole novels, the language is strong, to say the least, and anyone offended by the 'F' and 'C' words had best give this author a miss! If you like a crime drama with strong characters and an interesting plot, I would recommend Hard Girls, however, I must admit that I did not feel Hard Girls was one of the authors best novels and in light of this I have rated it with 4*..
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 December 2009
N.B. My reviews may be found on other review sites under the same user name.
Martina Cole Hard Girls is another outstanding book from Martina Cole.
She always writes really good crime novels, tells it like it is in the real world and there is never any of the fairy tale endings which you expect.
I have read almost every novel Martina Cole has published and this one in particular was really good. If you have followed her books, you will know that this book has more meaning.
Once again, Kate Barrows is the police woman dealing with this case. Her and her partner, Patrick Kelly, a local villain, are two of the main characters in this book. Kate and Patrick have been in quite a few of her books.
The story is about young prostitutes being murdered. Kate and another young WPC, Annie, commit all their time and effort into these murders, without much success to begin with. The murders are gruesome. These murders are being committed and the murder leaves no trace whatsoever to help lead the investigation. They start to suspect that the girls know the person committing the crimes as they let them into their houses without a struggle.
I dont want to say to much about the book plot as i dont want to spoil the twist which comes along with it. All i can say is that this is a must read book. It is a gripping and disturbing thriller that will have you hooked until the very last page.
If you are a Martina Cole fan, you will also feel as if there is a closure at the end of the book. I would give this book 5 stars.