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Review of Jail Bird, a novel by Jessie Keane
I am reviewing the paperback version of this book, published by Harper Books in 2010, 421 pages, ISBN 97800007908841. Cover price £7.99. Genre:- Crime.
This novel can be found in High street book stores or online. Amazon are currently offering it from £2.42 + P&P new or from 0.01p used.
The plot begins in the mid 1990's. Blonde and beautiful Lily King is the wife of Leo King, a well known hard man and head of the notorious Essex gangland King family. Lily has a good life, Leo treats her well, she lives in a beautiful home, has two daughters, Saz and Oli. The family has plenty of money, Lily spends her time lunching with friends, caring for her home and family, her life is far removed from her humble upbringing with her postman father and cleaner mother.
There is a blot on Lily's horizon, she discovers that Leo is having an affair with the wife of his company accountant, Adrienne. She worries over this news and during a girls only break with her friends, her mood becomes worse and she decides to confront Leo about his infidelity. Lily leaves the spa hotel and returns home early in order to speak to her husband, however on arrival at home, Lily discovers Leo dead. He has been shot through the head.
The plot then fast forwards by 12 years to find Lily being released from prison. Lily has served a sentence for the murder of Leo King. Her friend Beck collects her and agrees that Lily can stay with her for a while.
Prison has changed Lily, she is no longer the quiet little housewife, she has toughened up and she is out for revenge, someone killed her husband and she wants to find them. Her husband's brothers Si and Freddy are also out for revenge as they feel Lily has not paid a high enough price for killing Leo.
Apart from Beck, all Lily's friends have snubbed her, her daughters have been taken care of by the King brothers and are lost to her, her lovely home has been made over to the girls, as a criminal cannot prosper from their crime. Lily has nothing and no one to turn to.
The final straw for Lily is when Becks let slip that Lily's eldest child, 21 year old Saz is to be married the following day. Lily gatecrashes the wedding and is devastated when she realises the level of hatred her daughters and her former friends have for her. Even Beck is forced to ask Lily to leave after her appearance at the wedding.
Lily is plunged into the depths of despair and she vows to clear her name and find Leo's murderer. Her efforts open a can of worms that forces her to accept that people are not always what they seem and even those closest to her have their own agendas.
My Thoughts and Conclusion
I had not read any of Jessie Keane's novel before, however as a fan of female crime writers, Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller, I was interested to see that the author was recommended as a similar writer to them and bought the novel on the strength of this.
Jail Bird is a gritty novel with a riveting storyline. I found the writing style to be very similar to the authors mentioned above, the dialogue is very strong, with some extremely ripe language, but sharply delivered and it is relevant to the story line. The main character of Lily King is superbly drawn, believable and a very strong woman. I particularly liked this character and felt the author lead her through some truly awful situations, without losing sight of the basically 'nice' person beneath the hard woman. I found myself in tears when Lily's eldest daughter turns on her and tells her she will never forgive her.
The plot is an intricate one of intrigue, secrets and surprises. I was impressed by the well written story line and found that I was hooked from page one, this book is a real page turner and there were enough plot twists and turns to keep my interest throughout.
There are some scenes of violence and whilst these are relevant to the plot, in my opinion, they are not gratuitous or described in too much graphic detail. As mentioned earlier in the review, in places, the language used between characters is very strong and if you are offended by this, it might be better to avoid this genre of novel! After all, would a gangland boss be describing his brother's murderer in anything but bad language?
I will look out for more by this author, I feel she is serious rival to Martina Cole and would recommend Jail Bird to others who enjoy a crime novel with strong females characters.
I am awarding this book a 5* rating.
Thank you for reading.
© brittle1906 January 2012.
N.B. My novels may be found on other sites under the same user name.