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Review of 'The Club' a novel by Mandasue Heller.
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel. 576 pages, Published by Hodder Paperback (14 June 2007), genre Crime/thriller, cover price £6.99
Whilst still smarting from the breakdown of a long term relationship, Jenna Lorde is left a nightclub, Zenith, when her father dies. She returns to her home town to take up her inheritance. The club is run down, seedy and old fashioned, but sited in a prime location, Deansgate, Manchester. Jenna knows nothing about running a nightclub and indeed took very little interest in her father's business when he was alive.
With the persuasion of the club's manager, Fabian, Jenna agrees to update and remodel Zenith. The club has some loyal staff members, bar staff Kelli and Austin and an American DJ, Vibes, who is the best in the business. The staff agree to return to Jenna's employ once the club is up and running again.
Extensive work is carried out and Zenith hosts an opening night which exceeds Jenna's expectations. Celebrities vie for entry tickets and the club is an overnight success. Jenna's nightclub becomes the talk of the city and attracts a huge clientèle. Jenna places her trust in Fabian and Vibes, both men seem to know the club business inside out and she learns the ropes from them.
Initially the club is feted as 'the place to be seen' and Zenith becomes one of Manchester's most popular nightspots. Footballers, show business and political personages all flock to the club, safe in the knowledge that they will not be pestered by fans and fame seekers.
The club also attracts the 'wrong' type of attention and before long Jenna finds herself in deep water as the club is targeted by violent thugs. A regular customer, Tony Allen who attends the club often with his actress girlfriend, Melody, offers his help. At first Jenna refuses but eventually has to accept Tony's help following the advice of her late father's friend, retired MP Leonard Drake. Leonard is also a business associate of Tony's and the pair buy into Zenith with surprising results.
Jenna finds that everything is not quite as clear cut as it first seems and her life and livelihood are threatened in a very frightening way.
==Availability and Cost==
My copy bears the cover price of £6.99. The book is available from various online and High Street booksellers at widely differing prices. Waterstones stock the novel at £4.59 in paperback, WH Smiths stock price is £5.24.
www.amazon.co.uk offer 'The Club' for £4.59 new or from 0.01p + P+P used. www.ebay.co.uk have the book listed from 0.99p.
As with any web search, these prices are only guaranteed on the date of the search.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
All in all, I enjoyed this novel. Mandasue Heller has created some strong and believable characters in The Club. The novel is modern, sharp and eminently readable.
Thanks to the fact that the novel has several sub plots running concurrently within the main storyline, it is fast moving. Each of the characters seem to have their own agendas and secrets to guard. These sub plots keep the interest alive in this novel, without them, perhaps the plot would have been a little predictable and lightweight.
I did notice have one or two minor flaws in the plot, for example, Vibes, the DJ of the original nightclub was said to be the 'best in the business', so why was he working in a seedy run down club when Jenna inherited it? The building housing the nightclub was in an appalling state of repair, so bad that selling it was not an option, as it was likely to be condemned as suitable only for demolition, should a surveyor examine it. So how did the central character manage to get the planning permissions and the necessary building regulations passed on her refurbished club? Perhaps I am being a little picky or pedantic here as these are minor irritations, but they did annoy me!
I would recommend this novel to others, the plot is a fast moving one and the writing style is good. I would liken Ms Heller's writing to that of Martina Cole, gritty, gutsy but with less of the graphic sexual content and scenes of violence that Ms Cole is so well known for.
A 5* rating from me.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 March 2010
N.B. My reviews may be found on other review sites under the same user name.
Jenna Lorde is unwillingly thrust into nightclub ownership after her father, the boss of Zenith, dies. Jenna has to relocated from London back to her hometown of Manchester as the club is in Deansgate. Once Jenna has decided to stay on and keep the club she spends a few months and a lot of money bringing the dingy club to life and throws a New Year's Eve party to celebrate the opening. Some well known (and other less well known) celebrities attend and the club becomes part of their lifestyle too.
There is an obvious attraction between Jenna and resident DJ 'Vibes' and she is left bereft when he has to return home to America.
Jenna and her manager Fabian find the club going drastically down hill when all sorts of scary and out of character events happen that bring the clientele down.
*My Thoughts on the Novel and The Author*
This is the first Mandasue Heller book I have read, although I have 3 more to get through now... and I can't wait.
Heller has been likened to Martina Cole, who is one of my favourite fictional crime authors, and so I entered the book with this in mind. She certainly lived up to that expectation with realistic storylines - there is certainly the need for 'protection' in the Manchester club scene.
I felt that the book was written very well with a lot of depth to the key characters. There were loads of little sub plots that all link in to the end of the story, yet in an uncomplicated way. It was easy to read and unputdownable. As the reader I was aware of the characters with a darker side and I knew who I should and should not like.
A great read that I would recommend.
The Club by Mandasue Heller
Jenna Lorde is forced to make the move back to Manchester after the sudden and unexpected death of her father. Arrangements need to be made and her unhelpful sister has managed to steer well clear leaving everything up to Jenna herself. The Club that her father literally lived, breathed and eventually died in comes to the forefront of her inheritance as her fathers will suggested he seemed to want her to take over the night tot night running of it and try to make it somewhat of a success.
The club itself, Zenith, is in a total state of decay and Jenna herself cannot see how she can bring it up to the standards of todays clubbing scene. The manager Fabian and local superstar DJ Vibes, help her see that with a bit of work Zenith could be a big hit. So Jenna puts her heart and soul into turning Zenith, which resembles that of an old workingmens club, into one of the hottest places to be on the Manchester club circuit.
Celebrities flock to the new club giving it a huge name in a short space of time and Jenna begins to reap the rewards. Things of course begin to go wrong and with bully boys turning up and threatening her Jenna finds herself immersed into a world that perhaps she just doesnt know enough about. The Manchester Club scene is heavy and it just got a whole lot heavier. Friends and acquaintances are pulling together to help the sort the mess out but just how well Jenna knows these people is leaving her feeling totally out of control.
With all this trouble going on and her falling for Vibes, the DJ, and him returning to his family in America Jenna feels totally alone and lost in a world she only thought she understood. She takes on help therefore from the worst of all places and things on the surface appear to have sorted themselves out, but little does Jenna know the worst is yet to come!!
For all fans of Martina Cole and the seedy underworld that she so easily seems to write about, you really cannot miss out on reading the latest Novel from up and coming author Mandasue Heller. The writing styles are the same but Mandasue Heller bases her books in Manchester whereas Martina Cole sets her in London.
This book is probably one of the best books that I have read of Mandasue Hellers to date and I have worked my way through her whole collection now. This is probably the thickest book she has written although still not as much in depth as Martina Cole this book does see Mandasue Heller putting in an extra bit of work to make the story line itself a true success.
Mandasue Heller writes about a world that we are transported to as if we were sat in the club with Jenna and Fabian themselves. The plot is far better than those of her previous books in my opinion and the fact that the book itself is thicker it really shows that Mandasue Heller has gone into greater detail that I feel does make for a better read. There seems to be a lot more going on in this book compared to her others. Before it has seemed that the one storyline is the prominent and nothing else really happens but this book gives you more of what you are after when reading this sort of gangland/underworld style novel. The main storyline is there but with the added bonus of hearing more of the dodgy things that other people in the book are up to and giving you something else to really get your teeth into.
I think Mandasue Heller has outdone herself with this book. Her storyline is strong and very interesting and the characters in the book and well put across and easy to understand. The amount of violence in the book is perhaps less than that which Martina Cole would use but on the whole the book is pretty gripping and I for one did not want to put it down once I had started to read it.
Starting this book did remind me slightly of Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole but that soon changed as the story went on. It is easy to compare these two writers and I really do enjoy reading Mandasue Heller but I still much prefer Martina Coles style of writing and I think that Cole is still leagues above Heller. Hellers books are easy to read and I find myself reading them within a couple of days, as they are so addictive. I would think this particular book is without doubt one of her best and for those that have not yet read anything by Mandasue Heller The Club is certainly a good one to start with. I am totally looking forward to reading Mandasue Hellers new book that is released in September of this year so will have to keep an eye out for it.
On the whole this book is pretty good. I would certainly recommend it to everyone and say even for the top price of £6.99 pence it would be worth it but there are lots of copies going cheap on places such as eBay and I of course would try and snap one of these up if I were you.
I have to admit that as a reader I tend to stick to my favourite authors, but every so often I do like to try and read someone new. Mandasue Heller was a new author for me and 'The Club' is the first of her books that I have read although in total she has written six! She has also been likened to Martina Cole so if you like her books it is quite probable that you will enjoy 'The Club'.
'The Club' is set in Manchester and the story revolves around a nightclub called Zenith. It has recently been taken over by Jenna Lorde after the death of her father. Jenna is both inexperienced and a little naive, and certainly makes some wrong decisions in who she seeks help from. After a rather expensive refurbishment the club is up there competing with the best of Manchester's night time attractions, but unbeknown to Jenna the clientele it is attracting are not all as they seem. Tony Allen is one of the regulars who frequents the VIP lounge and soon has designs on owning part of the club himself and will stop at nothing to achieve this.
Jenna also has to deal with a challenging set of staff particularly Fabian the manager who is not prepared to relinquish any responsibility. He also has a couple of interesting sidelines as well which he does not want Jenna to know about. She does have a couple of people on her side though - Kalli, a young barmaid and Vibes, her energetic DJ. Not surprisingly she finds herself falling for Vibes, but he has a story of his own and a few secrets that he is unable to share. This love story side of the novel is quite a pleasant diversion from the tension of the main story.
As the novel progresses there are a lot of shady goings on, most of which Jenna is totally unaware of. At this stage there is quite a lot of suspense as you wonder exactly what everyone is up to! All the chapters are quite pacy, and at the end everything particularly speeds up by her use of very short chapters which create a sense of urgency. I am not going to say any more about what happens, so as not to spoil the plot, but I can assure you that you will be hanging in there until the last moments!
Overall, I felt this was a well written book with a good story line, but if I'm honest, not quite my cup of tea. I suppose, being a bit of a stay at home mum, the seedier side of Manchester night life did not do a lot for me, and I guess that it is this type of setting that would put me off reading any more. Also, not being a regular clubber, I couldn't tell you how authentic Zenith actually is as a night club! However, I did think all the characters were well developed - you liked the ones you were meant to like, and as for the others you could see them for what they were! There is a huge amount of dialogue, which I guess would make it pretty easy to turn into a screenplay, and this seems to work well for this book.
So, I do think that I would recommend this book, but if only if you are really into thrillers. It is quite a gripping story and certainly will have you guessing as you read it! I am glad that I read it and it's always good to read different authors!
'The Club' is published by Hodder and Staughton. I have the large paperback size which has a RRP of £11.99.
Zenith has a prime location at the heart of fashionable Deansgate - and Jenna Lorde's inheritance has all the goodwill that any nightclub owner could hope for. The opening night is the high point of the social year, as everyone who is anyone begs for invitations. Jenna believes she can make it a success - but she knows less than she thinks about running a club. And some of her colleagues at Zenith have ambitions of their own that don't include Jenna. As the tension mounts, three men offer to help. One is out for himself. One wants to help her. And one of them offers to help her deal with the sleazy criminals who are threatening both Zenith and Jenna. Which of them can she trust?