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The 'Ladykiller' by Martina Cole is my favourite fiction book of all time, and therefore I feel important to do this review justice. It is, in my opinion, the best book she has ever written and her recent books have not been a patch on this one. I haven't just read this book once, but three times over the period of seven years. If you choose to read this you will not be disappointed.
The main protagonist in this story is George Markham. He is the guy next door, a mild meek man who isn't particularly interesting to speak to and even less interesting to look at. He walks around with his head down and his mouth closed, silently taking the insults his boisterous, domineering wife Elaine throws at him. However, George has a dark side to him and behind 'the smile that barely shows his teeth' is a sadistic, cold blooded murderer whose perverse sexual ideals spill out onto the streets of London, where no woman is safe.
The sub story focuses on London hard man Patrick Kelly (Yep, Martina Cole loves to include one of these) and DC Kate Burrows, the officer who works on the murder case. After Patrick's daughter is killed by Markham, he is out for revenge...and not a prison sentence. Patrick and Kate's lives become interwoven, as they both search for 'the lady killer.' The relationship between the two of them is a perfect sub plot to the main plot.
This book is cleverly written, making each character come alive on the page. They each have their strengths and weakness' and are described so well you feel like you know them personally. Every chapter comes with suspense and tension, meaning it is virtually impossible to put down. The women he kills are not just 'victims', Cole ensures that each character has their own voice, and their own story even if they only feature in one chapter.
As the case moves on and George Markham kills more women, the suspense mounts and just when you think his time is up, the plot twists once again. Reading the book I wondered throughout how it would end, and how I would like it to end. It did not disappoint.
Just so you know 'as I recommended this to an old woman once in a second hand book store,' the language is terrible, swear words galore and graphic descriptions often involving sexual perversions and murder. I saw the lady the next day as she was returning the book because of the 'degrading filth that it was.' Bad language does not bother me, in fact I think it's clever and Cole often comes up with some interesting similes; my favourite being 'as cold as a witches' tit.' I appreciate however that this is not to everybody's taste.
So, if you have enjoyed other Martina Cole Novels then you will definitely like this one. If you like crime and thriller novels with a gritty realistic edge, then you really should give this a try!
After recently reading a Martina Cole book, and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to read my only other offering from this gutsy and gritty Author, hence this review!
The book in question is called - "The ladykiller".
George Markham is a quite little mouse of a man, always well presented and hard working, he is what I would deem as non descript.
A hen pecked husband for many years, he is beyond meek, but they always say the quiet one's are the one's to watch, and this is true for George, as he has a little secret, a dirty little secret, one that will mean women will start dying.......
After Patrick Kelly's, (the local hardman and one time villain) only daughter turns up raped and murdered his life as far as he's concerned is over.
Along comes Dc Kate Burrows who is heading up the murder investigation and changes his life again, but will love conquer all, or will their lives be too far apart to survive?
After reading the blurb on the back I was under the impression I was getting a gritty type of romance book, with a murder investigation as a back drop, what I actually got was a very detailed and graphic book almost entirely told from the stand point of a seriously sick and twisted man, and how he sought out and satisfied his animal urges.
The chapters are spilt into either the "George" chapters or the from mostly Dc Kate Burrows standpoint, either via her relationship with Patrick, the investigation or her own family life, with her still having to deal with her daughter, being a single mother as well.
The George chapters are always quite disturbing, as when the book first starts it is more a case of him watching people, and just imagining what he would do to them, though of course as the reader of the book you are privy to all is deepest darkest desires, though as the book continues he starts almost seeing things from a different point of view, with the women becoming all whore's who need to be "sorted out", it really can be quite harrowing reading at times.
The relationship between Patrick and Kate is a lovely interlude in the quite heavy book, with their relationship being born of a physical need for comfort on Patrick's part, but as a local hardman it doesn't feel very prudent for a policewoman to be dating a villain, though this has a real 80's feel to it, with Kate being one of only a very few women on the police force, and facing all the age old prejudices!
I loved how Kate dealt with her family, that being her daughter Lizzy and her mother Evelyn, who she had always lived with, and who helped her with the child care, with her family seeming to be very well balanced on the first view, but as with all families there are always going to be fall out's, and her daughter has them all beat!
This was I have to say a very hard read, with some parts being extremely harrowing and disturbing to read, but I would happily give this four stars, with it losing one star due to just how long the book was, it felt a bit too drawn out towards the end, though loved the entirely shocking and unexpected ending!
Price wise this is available via www.amazon.co.uk for around the £3.00 mark.
Thanks for reading x
I love to read a good book and this one caught my eye. Having read a couple of Martina Cole before I knew I'd probably like it.
All the characters you could identify with. I know a good author when I can picture in my head what they might look like and I had an image with all of them, especially George Markham with his secret smile. The physical and emotional descriptions are excellent. I think Martina is excellent in creating 'hard' characters but bringing out their human side so that you feel empathy with them even though I'm sure you're not supposed to. Martina weaves several extra characters in well, and none are extras for the sake of it, they all add to the storyline.
It's great with a little twist. I am not going to tell any of the story to avoid giving anything away but there is a good mix of present and past to the story to give a good outline on every character. With Kate Burrows I thought this got a bit repetitive by the end by that's a minor gripe.
It is a believable story not too over the top, you can see there's enough fact behind the fiction, especially when dealing with corruption.
If you have read any Martina Cole before you won't be disappointed, if you have never read any of her books then this one is a good start. I read this on holiday and finished the book over the course of the week because I didn't want to put it down.
Martina Cole is an extremely successful author, she has written eleven number one best sellers.
The book starts with the first character we get to know, he is George, George Markham, he appears to be hen pecked and very placid, his wife nags the life out of him, and he seems to plod along in life, and accepts that his marriage is stale if not completely dead. As the book continues you begin to understand that this is not just everyday nagging, but total disrespect and cruelty.
But henpecked George is not all he seems, he has a darker side, and without giving too much away he has an extremely sinister, terrifiying side to him.
Throughout the book we go back to George's childhood and start to understand how he became the man he is today.
Patrick Kelly is a hard man, is both feared and respected by the criminal world and the most senior in the police force. Patrick is a very wealthy and successful man. He has one soft spot, his daughter Mandy.
We are then taken through a page turning chain of events that leads Mandy to being brutally raped and murdered by a man nickenamed the Grantley ripper.
Kate Burrows is the DI that is in charge of the case, she is a very strong character, she has struggled with personal issues, such as being a single mother, we learn about her relationships with her daughter and her mother, and the fact that she would never have had her career without her mothers help. We start to understand that her relationship with her daughter has suffered due to her commitment to her career, does Kate really know her daughter. The love for the teenager is really tested at times. Kate begins by watching Patrick Kelly really struggling to comes to terms with the brutal murder of his beloved daughter. Her empathy slowly changes into understanding and respect, for a man that is feared by many. Her growing relationship with Kelly is extremely dangerous for her career. Kelly has made it clear that he want revenge, with or without the police.
As the story continues we see a softer side to Patrick and can understand why Kate could fall for him, risking everything. We learn about the violence that Patrick is capable of, in the desperate hunt to find his daughters murderer and police corruption that Kate didn't know exsisted.
As you turn the pages of this fantastic book you are taken through a race against time between the police and London's criminal underworld. Who will find him first? and what complications will there be for Kate and her family, could her career really be at stake? How many young women will the Grantley ripper kill before he is caught, what affect will this have on his unsuspecting family, or are they really unsuspecting?
You really can't work out who will make the right connections first, then you think they have and its missed! Where is Patrick Kelly getting his information from ?
This book was a great 629 pages long . I couldn't put it down. Its extremely violent and very graffic in parts. As with all Martina Cole books this is not for the fainthearted. An excellent read.
Having finished reading two good biographies, I wanted to find a good fiction novel to get into. I picked up several and tried a few pages, but couldnt really get into them. So I turned to a reliable source of literary entertainment Martina Cole. The Ladykiller was the eighth book of hers that I have read and as I had enjoyed the others immensely, it seemed a safe bet that this one would also meet my high expectations.
But did it? Read on
Not long after beginning the novel, I was warned it was Coles most graphic book and this needs to be stated clearly. Coles books are never for the faint-hearted, but The Ladykiller makes her other novels seem like Enid Blyton. While regular readers will expect swearing, violence and gangster culture, this one also explores the mind and actions of a depraved and sick man. You have been warned.
It is no surprise that there is a strong woman in this book, as Cole is known for this and it is one of the things that attracts me to her writing. The Ladykiller introduces us to a 40-year-old policewoman called DI Kate Burrows. She lives with her teenage daughter, Lizzy and her mother, Evelyn. Kate faces sexism at work, but prides herself on her competence and demands respect from her male colleagues.
She is a very hard worker, but at a price. She has no real social life, has had no relationships since her break up with Lizzys father and she feels guilty about not having spent much time at home being a mum. But Evelyn has been great and it seems that Lizzy has turned out a lovely teenager. But are things how they seem?
Kates work life soon becomes focused on one particularly nasty case - a serial rapist and murderer, who savagely attacks women, using and abusing them before, during and after death. He is soon dubbed The Grantley Ripper and a vast amount of time, energy and resources are directed towards this aim.
Meanwhile, George and Elaine Markham live a simple, if not entirely happy, life together. They both go out to work and live in a nice house. George is irritatingly meek and mild, so quiet as to be almost unknown at work and completely subservient to his wife at home. He would never hurt a fly, would he?
He has few interests of his own, but does enjoy spending time in the shed with his gardening magazines. But behind the locked shed door are clues to his state of mind. Underneath the gardening magazines are other forms of reading material. Not just your average girlie mags either. Oh no, these are full of pictures of bondage and sadism.
But even so, hes not hurting anyone, is he?
Patrick Kelly is a local face. A rich businessman who has made his fortune from repossessions, brothels and several shady deals, everyone knows he lives off the profits of crime, but somehow he always manages to stay on the right side of the law, when anyone important is watching. But then, as he has several very influential figures on his side, is it surprising?
Patrick Kelly and DI Kate Burrows are destined to meet and to have their lives intertwined. But surely a relationship would be impossible? One a respected figure of authority on the right side of the law; the other firmly planted on the opposing side. But they do say opposites attract
It only took a few pages before I was really into the novel. It was compelling and soon became almost impossible to put down, until I was staying up much later than usual and reading over a hundred pages at one sitting. Martina Cole has a gift for making the reader feel drawn to the story and need to know what happens next.
I felt Kate was an excellent character one to respect and admire, but not without her faults. You soon come to feel you know her and are on her side throughout. I am sure that any working mothers will also understand her guilty feelings at trying to combine her career with her duties as a parent. This side of her was very well described. Personally, I could empathise more with her relationship with her ex and how she tried to keep her daughter happy on that score.
I also liked her mother, Evelyn very much and felt she was also very realistic. Lizzy wasnt quite so well drawn in my opinion. I felt she was harder to picture than some of the other characters and that she appeared more like a light pencil sketch than the full colour detailed painting of Kate.
Another of Coles traits in her writing is describing the criminal underworld. From tarts with hearts to gun-toting bully boys, each cameo role is stretched well, so we come to form opinions about them and therefore desire a specific outcome for each one.
Many of Martinas male fictional characters are not likeable. They are often violent and aggressive or weak and laughable. But in The Ladykiller, we have Willy (Patricks friend and number two) and Kenneth Caitlin, who works on the murder case with Kate. Both provide some light relief from the general ever-present tension and are warm and engaging.
George Markham must be one of the most despicable and disgusting fictional characters ever. What he does in the story is sickening - but it is believable, because it follows a kind of frighteningly logical progression. At the same time as we see him sinking down to these depths in the present (The novel is set around 1990), we also see flashbacks to his childhood, where his domineering and sadistic mother introduced him to abuse at an early age. This gives credence to how he develops and provides a plausible reason but not an excuse for the crimes he commits as an adult.
I am trying to avoid spoilers and dont want to give too much away, but I feel a warning needs to be put in at this point. This novel contains graphic scenes of battery, rape, buggery, necrophilia, bondage, sadism and child abuse. It is NOT a comfortable book to read.
My one real complaint about the novel isnt the level of violence, which although shocking did not seem out of context (and if you feel upset by it, you can just remind yourself its FICTION!). No, the part of the book that annoyed me was Kates change in character through her romance. While completely believable throughout most of the 600+ pages, the last few chapters seem to destroy all her strong common sense and natural distrust and turn her into a quivering wreck, whenever her lover was around. So that was slightly annoying.
Their relationship also provides a few scenes in the novel which are rather arousing. This is a sex between two consenting adults and isnt the slightest bit unconventional, but it does seem strange to find a rather pleasantly sexy scene in the midst of all the depravity in the rest of it, with enough perverted sex to make Casanova become celibate.
So overall, I would recommend this novel, as it was a really good read and an exciting thriller. But I can only recommend it with some reservations, as the subjects covered are often ones people may prefer NOT to read about. For Martina Cole fans, this is a must read, but for those who have yet to try one of her novels, I would suggest starting with a different book. (Goodnight Lady was the first one of hers that I read.)
THE LADYKILLER by Martina Cole
Cover price £6.99
Published by Headline
George Markham, to the outside world is an unassuming sort of person. At first glance he seems like just another ordinary guy; hes quiet, has a good job, a nice car and lives with his wife in suburbia. Look a little deeper and you will find a man who is more than a bit hen-pecked and nagged by his wife and thought of by his work colleagues as a bit of a loser, even a bit "sad". He has no real friends, he doesnt seem to belong. Some would even go so far as to think of him as "creepy". If only this was all there was to Mr Markham! Appearances can be deceptive. Very deceptive indeed in the case of this particular gentleman. He likes domination and bondage magazines, hardly surprising given his wifes nature and not exactly perverse; but that is the very least of his hidden traits. George Markham is a misogynist and seemingly no woman is safe from his twisted way of thinking. He has a secret smile, the one that if you knew what it meant would have you running… You see he also hides a secret and indeed he hides it well. He is a murderer, a serial killer. Women are being viciously attacked, murdered then raped. The press in the small town where he lives have dubbed him the Grantley Ripper. The Detective Inspector in charge of the hunt to find this sadist is Kate Burrows. Shes divorced with one teenage daughter and is working in a male dominated and often-sexist police station. She is under great pressure from those higher than her, her own colleagues, the press and the public to solve this case before the victim list grows further. The public are scared, naturally so, but DI Burrows is really struggling to make any kind of breakthrough whatsoever; the Grantley Ripper is a clever bugger and leaves no clues. She also has to deal with certain people within the Force who dont see her as being up to the job as well as a prat of an ex-husband! Now lets throw into the mix Londons most feared hard-man, one Patrick Kelly. A wid
ower who dotes on his only child Mandy he skates just the right side of the Law with his various businesses, which include Massage Parlours, and he is the Souths most feared Repo man. If someones got something of yours and you want it back, call in Mr Kelly; he will get it back one way or another with maybe with the odd threat or two thrown in for good measure! So when the Ripper kills Mandy, the only thing he has left in the world to live for, lets just say Mr Kelly is not impressed. He has connections worldwide and nothing is going to stand in his way to revenge the murder… He isnt all he seems though; again appearances can be wrong. He has a heart of gold and as the story progresses we see how his developing relationship with DI Burrows changes both of their lives, forever. The scene is set, a huge manhunt is being undertaken and the race is on to identify Mr Markham as the killer, but who will get to him first; DI Burrows or Patrick Kelly? This book is typical Martina Cole, she has a great talent for mixing gritty realism with fast paced drama and this novel is no exception. All of her books are set in and around London and show life both within the Law and beyond it. She has a gift for making her books believable; again this one is perfectly crafted to make you think "what if"? She writes each character extremely well and puts plenty of flesh onto each persons bare bones. Granted sometimes some of the flesh is a little rancid and festering, but flesh it undoubtedly is! I love a book that whilst you are reading you get so absorbed into it you can picture each character in your minds eye and this does just that. You can see each person she is describing clearly throughout the story and I found myself willing the Police and even Mr Kelly on to find the Ripper! George Markhams character had the ability through the written word alone to make my skin crawl and Im not someone to be scared easily. Sometimes some
books leave me with the "but that wouldnt happen" feeling, or the "but that person wouldnt have done that" opinion. This book does neither, all characterisations stay true to the very end, all emotions are explored in depth so you feel like you know the people she is writing about. Martina Cole writes in a very clear manner, if the character is from the rougher end of town then the language they use is appropriate and sometimes very harsh. This is the same for those with a better upbringing, and the heady mixture of the two is interwoven with perfection. The interactions between all of the characters are executed with aplomb and always in a very realistic fashion. Throughout the book we get some pretty deep insights into George Markham and his family which does go quite a way to explaining why he is the way he is, although as in all of these types of situation there is of course the unknown and unexplainable; after all not everyone treated like he was as a child goes on to do what he does. Its a fine line to walk for Ms Cole as she does it well and the book jumps from present day to the past with ease and without disrupting either the story as a whole or the reading pleasure. Please dont get me wrong here. I do not believe for one second that Ms Cole wrote all the chapters on George Markhams upbringing to illicit any sympathy with him and his situation, just to simply explain who he is and where he came from. After all, serial killers dont usually just fall from the sky one day! Please dont be mistaken, this isnt all a sombre read, at times I found myself laughing out loud with one thing or another that one of the characters had said. That said, the mood throughout the book is ideal, Ms Cole never allows it to become too "black" and forbidding but on the other hand it doesnt become too humorous which for the subject matter would be entirely inappropriate. The hope that the killer will be captured is brilliantly conv
eyed and gives a nice lift to the whole story. I found this a compulsive read; I had great trouble putting it down as the story unfolded with each turn of the page. In this book Martina Cole has created a world that I just didnt want to leave until the last page and the story certainly twists and turns until a conclusion that; well lets just say you probably wont guess until you get there. I know I certainly couldnt tell how things eventually concluded which made a refreshing change for me. The ending isnt typical of books of this ilk and its always good if you cant guess how the nasty little villain will get his comeuppance!! This book is no short read, at 629 pages split into 32 well-defined chapters it does take even the most avid reader like myself a good few reading sessions to get through; although the subject matter may suggest otherwise, it isnt that heavier a read although it is substantial. It was published in 1993 by Headline Book Publishing, and is available in both paperback and hardback. ISBN number: 0-7472-4085-X
The Ladykiller is Martina Cole?s second novel, it's a dramatic change to her debut Dangerous Lady, however still follows the seedy and criminal underground world of London. George Markham has found an interest in reading and watching pornographic material with men dominating women, soon this turns into hardcore S & M and leads onto an interest in snuff movies. A very unhealthy interest for anyone - but George oversteps the boundaries and makes his wildest fantasies become reality. What has made George act in such a sadistic and violent manner towards women? How long can he keep his secret? As a growing number of women are found raped and murdered, DI Kate Burrows heads a manhunt for the Grantley Ripper. Kate has a tough time being a female DI but it is her life and soul, and juggling a teenage daughter with her job becomes increasingly difficult. As does her interest in Patrick Kelly, the most renowned hard man in London, who only just keeps on the right side of the law, when Patrick and Kate are thrown together in the unfortunate circumstances of Patrick's daughter becoming the latest Grantley Ripper victim, Kate is thrown into confusion. Amid the hunt for the Grantley Ripper and her forbidden interest in a known villain as well as keeping tracks on her home life ? Kate's life is about to become very difficult. Patrick is on the hunt for his daughter's killer and will stop at nothing to get at the man before the law does. Will Patrick get hold of the Grantley Ripper before Kate and her team do? This book is very compelling but somewhat disturbing, scenes where George is murdering or fantasizing over women are not nice, nor are the scenes of George's childhood and his domineering mother. Although not extremely graphic, it can turn one's stomach, but unfortunately this is the world we live in, sad but true. Martina Cole cleverly mixes lies, deceit, murder and forbidden love into one thrilling nove
l which is an easy read.
Patrick Kelly is a hard man - the most feared in London. His one soft spot is his daughter Mandy. When Mandy falls prey to the sadistic rapist nicknamed the Grantley Ripper, Kelly wants revenge - with or without police help. DI Kat Burrows is the one who must risk everything to solve the case.