Review of Nothing But Trouble, a novel by Roberta Kray
I am reviewing the paperback edition of this novel, published by Sphere, ISBN 978-0751544794, 544 pages, cover price £6.99. Genre- Crime Fiction.
My copy was sourced from my local book exchange group. This book can be found on amazon at £3.50 for a new paperback or from 0.01p used.
It is also available in Kindle format at £3.32 or as a new hardback from £11.64.
The story starts in August 1998. A group of school girls are idling away their school holidays in Kellston, a run-down area in London's East End. The gang consists of five 10 year old girls and is headed by their self-styled leader, Paige, a street wise bully who encourages her girl gang to do her bidding, shoplifting and generally running wild. A sixth girl Minnie Bright tries to hang about with the girls, but she is unwelcome as she is a slow-witted, grubby child whom Paige considers beneath contempt. One fateful day, Minnie is bullied by the gang into breaking into the house of local 'flasher' Donald Peck. Minnie climbs in through a window and that is the last time the child is seen alive, her broken body is discovered some two days later under a bed in Peck's home. He is subsequently arrested, charged and convicted to life imprisonment for the murder of Minnie Bright.
14 years forward finds the girl gang grown up and living their own lives, Donald Peck is dead having killed himself whilst in prison.
One of the policemen who discovered the body of Minnie Bright is Harry Lind. Harry has now left the police force and with his partner, another ex-policeman called Mac, Harry runs a private investigation agency in Kellston. Harry is a remote type of man; he is single and is in the process of moving into the flat above his business premises. Harry has an on/off relationship with Detective Inspector Valerie Middleton.
Harry is approached by a businessman to follow and watch his wife who is suspected of cheating. Harry feels a little discouraged by the job but accepts it all the same.
Shortly after this an old friend, investigative journalist Jessica Vaughan, calls at Harry's office. She has been researching the Minnie Bright case for an article she is writing about the after effects of serious crime. Her research has led her to interview the five girls involved, however one is dead, having committed suicide a year earlier. Of the other four, one named Sam agrees to be interviewed, two more agree but then change their minds and the final girl, Kristen, now a model and an actress in a TV soap opera, refuses point blank to speak of the case.
Jessica is suspicious and her worries are proven correct when she is approached by Sam who is receiving anonymous death threats and has suffered vandalism to the taxi she drives. Jessica asks Harry Lind to help Sam and herself.
Harry is sceptical but agrees to assist and very soon finds that he and Jessica are becoming embroiled in a case where they are stirring up all kinds of trouble by simply asking questions, questions that someone will kill to leave unanswered.
==My Thoughts And Conclusion==
I must admit to a little hesitation regarding this novel prior to reading it. I had heard of the author as many will have done, she is after all the widow of the infamous Reggie Kray, one of the Kray twins, gangsters who were imprisoned in 1969 for their various murders and crimes. Southport born Roberta met Reggie Kray, the man whose words and deeds once terrorised the London underworld, in 1996 and married him the following year.
The book blurb states that no one knows crime like a Kray and it was this that put me off the book initially as I feared it would be a book simply cashing in on the Kray family name. I have read several books about the Kray brothers and would have been disappointed had this novel just been a spin off these.
I need not have worried!
Nothing But Trouble is a fast paced, intriguing novel. It is well written and gripping, although there are several story lines running concurrently, this does not detract from the strong plot and it is a well-crafted novel.
I had also thought the novel would be similar in style to the work of Martina Cole, again the book blurb alluded to this, but I found it to be a far better novel altogether. The situations and plot were slightly similar to Ms Cole's books but there is none of the gruesome violence, bad language and shock value that she uses. I have to say I feel Roberta Kray is the better writer as she keeps the plot spinning along with no additional padding. Dialogue is crisp, sharp and well delivered and she has drawn the characters remarkably well, they are believable and in some cases quite unlikeable!
My main criticism would be that there are so many characters involved in the two cases Harry Lind was investigating, that I began to lose track of some of them. I did wonder perhaps if the two main story lines of the murdered child and the cheating wife could have actually made two novels; there was certainly enough action in the cases to warrant a complete novel for each!
I found this book absorbing, the plot and sub plots twisted and turned and I was fooled by red herrings just as the main protagonist Harry Lind was in the story. The final outcome of both the cases were surprising and made for a satisfying end to a brilliantly crafted novel.
A 5* rating is well deserved for this author and I recommend 'Nothing But Trouble' to others. I intend to look out for more from this author and I hope they will live up to this novel.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 February 2014
N.B. My review may be found on other sites under the same user name.
~*~*~ Roberta Kray - Nothing But Trouble ~*~*~
~ The Author ~
Roberta Kray was born in Southport in 1959, she met notorious gangster Reggie Kray in 1996 and married a year later whilst he was still in prison. He got released on compassionate grounds in 2000 due to inoperable bladder cancer where he spent the last few weeks of his life with Roberta. Before marrying her name was Roberta Jones. Roberta now lives in Norfolk.
Roberta has written a few books -
One non-fiction - Reg Kray - A Man Apart - 2002
And the rest are novels that she has been bringing out atleast once a year. The latest to be released for 2013 is Bad Girl.
My review however is for the book released in 2012 - Nothing But Trouble.
~ First Impressions - The cover ~
I recently got given a bag filled with crime/thriller books from my mum and included in the bag was this book which I didn't really take much notice of at all, it looked a bit 'meh' and didn't stand out to me, it was put on the book shelf along with the rest of the books until I decided to have a proper look at what was there.
The cover doesn't really give anything away. With there being a woman and man on the cover you could be forgiven into thinking this book would follow be following a relationship as the name of the book doesn't suggest any different either. It isn't particularly eye catching and the only really reason I decided to read it was because it was written by Roberta Kray - And that was simply down to the Kray part in her name!
Quite a bland cover that doesn't give much away at all.
~ First Impressions - The write up ~
Now the write up on the back of the book was a little more intriguing. It sounded like it would be a great read so I was glad that I had picked this up from the shelf.
" In 1998, a gang of ten year-old girls spends just another day roaming the East End streets. Bored and without money, they shoplift for the thrill as well as the cash. Passing their spoils onto a fence, the girls soon need another distraction. And as they come to the quiet home of Donald Peck, the local weirdo, their ringleader Paige decides it's time to try thieving on a much bigger scale. Minnie, the smallest and weakest member of the gang, is pushed through an open window into the weirdo's deserted flat, so she can open the front door for the others. But the minutes pass and the door never opens. Two days later, Minnie's small body is found under Donald Peck's bed.
Fourteen years later, private investigator Harry Lind is forced to take a closer look at the case that put Peck behind bars for Minnie's murder. The surviving girls, now grown women, are suddenly receiving death threats and warnings never to speak a word about what happened that day. Peck always protested his innocence and hung himself after being jailed. With a gut instinct that something sinister is going on - and that it would make for a great story - journalist Jessica Vaughan is ready to risk her own safety by digging deeper. She and Lind have an interesting past of their own, but for now they need to find out just what really happened on that dark day, before another member of the gang is in serious trouble. "
I liked that the book was spanned out over 14 years and I also liked that it wasn't about a troublesome relationship as I had first thought. I took the book up to the bath with me for a bit of serious reading!
~ The story ~
The story begins in 1998 where we meet the first five characters, as they were only children there was nothing much that stood out of them or their personalities but still it made for interesting reading. We learn that there is a local man Donald Peck who is known as the local weirdo due to his flashing antics and general strangeness, it is here the trouble starts, not even with him as a person just his strange house!
Deciding it would be a good way to add a bit of fun to their otherwise boring day the ringleader of the gang - Paige, decides it would be a good idea to break into the house of Donald Peck and in order to get into the house, she forces the smallest girl - Minnie Bright, to climb in through the window. Things don't go to plan and the girls end up leaving her there. Two leaving earlier than others due to being afraid of being caught by Donald Peck and also of what trouble they would get into with their parents. Deciding Minnie would eventually come out of her own accord the other girls also leave. Which is where this part of the story ends and we fast forward to 14 years later.
The story is picked up again after the 14 years by journalist Jessica Vaughn - Jess. She want's a simple story about how life has been for the people involved in the case all this time later but after things start off on a good foot they soon start to diminish and she decides to call upon old time friend, private investigator and ex-copper Harry Lind.
We then go through the personal lives of everyone involved in the book and there are a decent amount of characters, from the first five girls involved to Harry and his relationships and work, Jess' personal life, Harry and Jess' history and other people along way.
There is also a mystery man who has traveled over from Spain due to having debts to repay and once these were done he would be free to live his life as he so wishes.
Harry get's involved in a private investigation case when he is sought by after a husband suspects his wife is cheating, she is a glamorous and pretty looking women and Harry can't help but feel sorry for her at times.
The different parts of the story all blend terrifically well with each other and there is no part that seems out of place. It is such a well laid out story that getting to the end of the book and figuring things out would never occur to me the way that they actually do in the book. It is very well written and fast paced and exciting.
I read this book over the course of three nights and at times I found it hard to put down. The characters are all really likable and no-one seems to stick out to someone you could hate. There are numerous things happening all the time through the story which keeps it interesting at all times.
~ Price & Availability ~
This is quite widely available, just from a quick Google search I can see that it is available on -
Amazon - £5.24
Kobo ebooks -£3.99
Waterstones - £5.59
Plus many more places.
Thanks for reading :o) x