Review of 'Shafted', a novel by Mandasue Heller
I am reviewing the paperback version of this novel, 552 pages, cover price £6.99, Published by Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN:- 9780340899526, Genre:- Crime/Thriller fiction.
'Shafted' is set in Manchester and creates a mix between the world of celebrities and criminals.
Larry Logan is a man with everything, looks, charisma and a show biz career as the presenter of a smash hit game show. Larry Logan is a superstar. Yet the fame and fortune that he holds so dear are shattered with one foolish act. Larry makes a fool of himself and the young female contest winner, during a live charity find raiser of the show. He is drunk on air and after the show, is photographed out clubbing with the winner, who turns out to be barely 16 years of age. The show is snatched from Larry's grasp and given to another presenter and Larry slides into an alcohol induced decline much to the dismay of his agent.
When Larry's money runs out and he is faced with bailiffs and bankruptcy, a life line is thrown in the form of an offer of a job. Larry is asked to front a one-off show, it is an unusual proposition as Larry will be assisting in a kind of bounty hunting show. The show could be a massive hit, but as a result of appearing Larry runs the risk of making some dangerous enemies. He is at an all time low and he feels that he has nothing to lose, so decides that the possible benefits make it worth trying.
Larry stars in the show and it is a runaway success. He then meets a remarkable woman, Stephanie, she is shy, reserved, beautiful and very different from the girls who have normally chased him for his celebrity status. Stephanie eschews the limelight and doesn't want to appear in public with Larry, she makes various excuses and Larry struggles to understand her reasons.
Suddenly Larry finds he is back on the top of his game which delights him and his agent, but the enemies that he knew he ran the risk of making, are less than pleased. Larry's life is in danger and he is running scared.
**About the Author**
Mandasue Heller was born in Cheshire and moved to Manchester in 1982. She spent ten years living in the notorious Hulme Crescent, an area which has since become the background to her novels. She is also musical, having sung in cabaret and rock groups, seventies soul cover bands and blues jam bands.
Mandasue Heller still lives in the Manchester area with her musician partner, she has three children and two grandchildren.
**Availability and Cost**
The cope I read is a library book with the jacket price of £6.99.
The book is available in major bookshops and online retailers.
Currently www.amazon.co.uk have Shafted listed at £4.50 new or from 0.01p used.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I have read one or two novels by Mandasue Heller, which I have found enjoyable. Shafted is a little different from these other novels in as much as the central character is not likeable, he is a shallow, weak and self absorbed person with little to commend or endear him to the reader. Perhaps I am missing the point and this was the authors intention, but I found nothing to like about Larry. That said, I did enjoy the book although I do not consider it to be as good as other novels by Mandasue Heller.
The characters within the novel are well drawn and the author builds a sharp and fast moving plot, but in my opinion there was something lacking in the novel. The concept of the show Larry is asked to present is too far fetched to be believable. I cannot see the Police permitting amateur, celebrity, sleuths to track down dangerous villains and persuade them to appear on a television show.
I feel that this novel showcases the shallowness in world of celebrities very well and it confirms the old adage that you should be nice to people on the way up, as you'll pass them on the way down!
The book is enjoyable for what it is, a work of fiction, therefore I am giving this novel a 3* rating.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 March 2010
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Shafted - Mandasue Heller
Description: Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Mandasue Heller / Paperback / 416 Pages / Book is published 2008-10-02 by Hodder & Stoughton General
I was passed this book by a friend to read so didn't have to pay for it but it is currently available from Amazon for £4.97 with free UK delivery.
Mandasue Heller is claimed to be Manchester's answer to Martina Cole. To be honest, having read a few books by each author, I find that I actually prefer Heller. Yes they are similar in that they tend to write books based on gangster like characters, crammed with drugs, violence and sex, but Cole appears to be more old school with men being the real players and women seeming to accept their outrageous behavior. Heller on the other hand writes about a new generation of criminal, where women are definitely seen as the equal sex.
This novel introduces us to Larry Logan, a popular and famous game show host who's life takes a down turn after appearing drunk on a live charity show. Larry is a womaniser and has no qualms about leaving the show and going clubbing with the winner, a 16 year old girl called Tania, who unbeknown to Larry was pretending to be her older sister so as to be old enough to appear on the show.
Next morning, the papers are full of photo's of Larry appearing to be kissing the young Tania in a club and his subsequent fall from grace leaves him a shadow of his former self, with only his agent remaining loyal to him. When an opportunity to get back on screen presents itself, Larry grabs it with both hands, ignoring the potential dangers involved.
The show is based on the honeytrap idea, with Larry being the bait to lure in criminals under the pretence of winning big on a gameshow, which they claim is only ever going to be shown in America to convince people to take part. Enter Dex Lewis, a dangerous local criminal who the police have been trying unsuccessfully to lock away for some time. Though there are other potential targets for the trap, Dex is the main prize and it is up to Larry to convince him to take part.
I am not going to explain any more in case I spoil the plot, but I do feel that the above scenario makes things a little unbelievable - if Larry could pop round and talk to a local thug, surely the police could just go round and arrest him without all the drama!
Having said that, aside from the slightly far fetched plot, this book is a decent enough read. It is crude, brutal and demonstrates the lengths that some people are willing to go to in the name of fame, love and revenge, which can make for uncomfortable reading in places.
Although there were some parts of the book that were shocking, I found that overall, I did enjoy it as it was quite easy to read - maybe a good book for a plane journey or holiday, nothing too heavy but entertaining enough.
The ending manages to be not quite what you expected, which is good considering that the beginning is a little unbelievable. The story is quite gritty but manages to have darkly funny moments and while you begin feeling that Larry deserves all he gets, I found that towards the end, I almost felt sorry for him.
If you like this kind of book, you will probably enjoy this. I have read better by this author, but it wasn't a bad book, just not as good as it could be.
A decidedly average 3 stars from me - must try harder!
I picked this up at the library as I was waiting for a bus and it's right next to it so I just grabbed a book and left, and I had read one of her books previously and remembered I'd quite enjoyed it.
Superstar gameshow host Larry Logan had the world at his feet. But it only took one night of stupidity to throw it al away. Now Larry would do anything to get his old life back. So when he's asked to front a one-off show, he jumps at the chance. Even though it could make him some very dangerous enemies. What has he got to lose? Then he meets Stephanie - beautiful, classy, a million miles away from the easy girls who usually throw themselves at hi. And suddenly he's back on top of his game.
The story starts straight off with the night in which Larry Logan, a hugely famous and popular TV personality, hosted a telefon show live and off his face and is forced to leave as he is too drunk to present the end of the show. He leaves with the winning contestant who has pretended she is older than her 16 years and is photographed kissing her in a club. The newspapers run with the story and although nothing happened he ends up losing his job and all the glitz and glamour that goes with it. We then follow Larry as he gets drunk and wallows in self pity until his agent rings and says she got a job for him. This job involves hosting a show in which criminals are led to believe they taking part in a game show and then they are arrested. He decides to go for it even though it will only be shown in America. The policeman who is involved in making the show wants to bring down a particular criminal, who is known to be very violent and suspected of a murder, and involves Larry in getting the guy, Dex, to the studio by going round to his house in a limousine and pretending to be his mate. Dex is then taken down and arrested and Larry wins the hearts of the public again and the attentions a beautiful women unlike all the others, but is she too good to be true?
The book started off quite well and you can relate to the name and shame in the papers of a celebrity losing flavour due to a mistake they have made. Although Larry isn't the easiest of characters to like at the start as he wallows in self-pity but you do feel a bit sorry for him as you know he didn't do anything purposefully wrong, just getting drunk and going out with a girl who he though was older than she was. I found the storyline about the game show a bit weird though, I can't imagine that many violent thugs would want to appear on a game show even if they could win lots of money and it wouldn't be shown in the UK, but I guess it is a novel idea - maybe we could eradicate the streets of all these gangs by sending them to game shows and then arresting them all! You grow to like Larry more as the story moves on as you see another side to him, a more vulnerable side and he seems to want to grab of hold of his career and learns more to appreciate it the second time round.
The story is also told from Dex and his families points of view as well, and what happens to them when he is sent to prison. His mother, who is the Queen of the family and his daughter and ex-wife all fight amongst themselves and against his now girlfriend who is trying to keep his business going whilst he is inside. I didn't really feel anything for these characters, apart from feeling a bit sorry for the girlfriend, as they are portrayed as money grabbing, violent women who don't really care about anyone except themselves and Dex.
The girl that he was photographed kissing also makes an appearance in and out of the book as she is a super fan and really believed that she and Larry would get together as he promises her at the beginning that he will go out on a date with her when she turns 18 and of course he doesn't remember. She is shown as naïve and quite desperate but you also see how the papers take advantage of a vulnerable young girl and twist what she says to their advantage.
It is quite predictable and I had worked out the ending about halfway through the book though it was an enjoyable light read. I don't think I'll read another one of these books for quite a while as once you have read a few of Martina Cole's and these type of books they are quite similar and so I wouldn't want to read a few on the trot.
If you like Martina Cole then you will enjoy this book, even though the game show idea does seem a bit daft.
Published by Hodder.
Paperback 551 pages.
Mandasue Heller - Shafted
If you like Martina Cole then you'll love Mandasue Heller. With gritty stories relating to the seedy comings and goings of some fictional underworld characters what is not to love.
Shafted is Mandasue Heller's latest novel and it brings us into a world of celebrity faces and names with a good healthy dash of the lowlife criminal to boot! Larry Logan, star of popular Saturday night TV game show, is hitting the bottle, and hard. His good looks and charismatic personality are all that is keeping his bosses at the television studio from kicking him out on the curb. For all his downfalls the public seem to love him. The higher Larry has got as a celebrity the more he has drunk and the final straw comes when he hosts a live charity phone in which all goes horribly wrong. After this Larry is out on his own with his reputation in tatters and not only because he was plastered live on air but that he also copped off with the of the winner of the game show later that night.
As Larry's life goes from bad to worse he finds himself not wanting to leave the house and before he knows it he's been hidden away for a little over a year! It's not until his belongings start to get repossessed that he finally sits up and thinks something has got to be done! The only offer of work coming in is for a one off American TV show which Larry is not at all keen on but he goes for it just to get some money back in his rather bare bank account.
The one off show that Larry is asked to host is for a game show called "Gotcha" this however is all a front and there is no real game show at all. The production company along with Manchester Police have teamed up to trap some of Manchester's most wanted criminals. The idea is to lure the criminals in with talk of prizes and cash bonuses when in reality as soon as they come out on stage they get read their rights and taken to the cells.
Could this be the big break Larry thinks it might be? Could it all go horribly wrong?
The idea of the book sounded like something I would be interested in when reading the back cover and seeing as how I have read all of Mandasue Heller's previous novels I thought I would give this one a try. I was no at all impressed with her boo before this one "The Club" and didn't think I would read another one by this author but I am really glad I did.
This book in my opinion was one of Manadasue's better books and far better than the one before it. You are really able to get a feel for the characters and I could honestly not see what was going to happen in the end (unlike "The Club"). I enjoyed reading the whole book and it didn't take me long at all to breeze through the whole book.
The style of writing is easy to follow and makes you just want to read that one more page before putting the book down. I had seen not so good reviews about this book on Amazon and assumed it was going to be a dud but I am glad I made up my own opinion by reading it because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I got it for a fairly reasonable price for £4.99p at Woolworth's which is not bad, especially because I also sell my books on anyway. I expect you can get it cheaper online more so if you buy it second hand.
I would give this book a great score of 4 stars and give it a HIGH RECOMMENDATION. I think if you have not read any of Mandasue Heller's books before then this is a good one to start with.