There cannot be many people who have not heard of the Kray Twins. Ronnie and Reggie Kray were the notorious twin gangster brothers who ruled the East end of London during the 50's and 60's. Roberta Kray, the author of The Pact married Reg Kray in 1996 and even though this was long after his notorious reign, I would still think that she would have a good understanding of how the underworld works which is why I was really expecting an exciting and gritty read when I started to read The Pact.
Eve Weston is the daughter of Alex Weston - a lifelong grifter who never stayed in one place for too long and rarely left a trail behind him, travelling far and wide with the young Eve in tow who has become a chip off the old block. The book opens with Eve living in and clearing out his flat in Norwich after his sudden suicide which she is struggling to come to terms with. She has also moved away from London after a complicated yet platonic relationship with her former boss went awry and also to be closer to her brother, Terry, who has just started a prison sentence. A lot going on for Eve right now, is she going to hold it all together?
Eve realises very quickly on that Terry is not coping very well with prison life and there are other inmates who are out to get him. Using all of her feminine whiles she enlists the help of tough inmate - Cavelli, who has certain powers within the prison and the two strike up an unlikely alliance - she will do whatever he wants in return for Terry's protection. Soon after the pact is made Eve's life is turned upside down with a break-in at her Fathers flat and a warning assault directed at Eve; she soon realises that Cavelli is the least of her worries and embarks on a mission to find out exactly what is going on around her, and more importantly why someone is out to get her and is it all connected to the demise of her father.
I found Eve a very average character - she smokes a lot, drinks to ease her nerves far too often and changes her clothes a ridiculous amount of times! On occasion Kray can use up half a page describing what Eve is wearing. I have the feeling that this is to aid you in connecting with the character, but I simply found myself milling over this unnecessary padding. Eve is perfectly likeable and doesn't do stupid things or take unrealistic risks which can have you yelling at the book and can sometimes be frustrating which is good - but I did find her rather plain, mundane and unadventurous. She is supposed to be sassy and wise but this does not come across particularly well and given her nomadic upbringing, she actually comes across as quite a snob which seems totally out of character.
Eve encounters a powerful gangster with the name of Joe Silk - this name made me smirk slightly as it is such a cliché. Even though Silk is supposed to be a hardnosed and controlling character, I do not feel as though Kray nailed it completely and I really feel that she could have packed a lot more punch (pardon the pun!) into this character. This is the same with the other hired help criminals - none of them have that menacing edge that I feel they should have and even though they were supposed to be threatening and lethal, this simply did not come across with enough conviction in my opinion and they appeared more like thick useless comedy loons.
I have read books in the past where there are so many characters it is easy to get confused and lost, but even though there are a lot of characters in this book each one has a specific purpose and they all work well within the plot, there does not appear to be any unnecessary loose wood here at all. The story line does go off on a tangent in a few places and I feel as though Kray is trying to fit in all of the elements - suspense, intrigue and of course a touch of romance, but generally speaking the story is easy to follow which makes this book really easy to read. Kray has some good ideas, but she never seems to follow them through thoroughly, only skimming the surface of what could be a great twist.
It is with some relief that everything is tied up neatly at the end, but I have to say that it was not at all the ending that I was expecting and by the time that I got there, it felt really rushed and as though Kray just wanted to get it over with, which is a real shame as I feel that it could have been developed a lot further.
I found this book average. I did not struggle to get to the end of it, and I never once considered giving up on it but it really was quite a struggle from time to time to keep my eyes open if I was reading late at night and with the way the storyline jumps about so much I never truly found that I was gripped. It is not the worse book by any means that I have read recently, but it certainly is not the best and maybe this is because I was expecting big things from an author with such connections and I have to wonder if these connections did not exist, would this have ever been published?