Book review: Lawless by Jessie Keane

Lawless by Jessie Keane

Lawless by Jessie Keane

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Take a deep breath, brace yourself and dive in at the deep end…

Author Jessie Keane is back on the dark streets of London’s criminal underworld with the second of her electrifying Darke family thrillers, and their dirty-dealing games just got deadlier.

They are up against the ruthless Danieris, an Italian gangster family bred in the violent traditions of the Camorra, a powerful urban underworld organisation in Naples which counts revenge as its sweetest dish.

Lawless, a terrifying white-knuckle ride through the savagery of gang warfare in 1970s London, is the heart-thumping sequel to Nameless which introduced us to Ruby Darke and her chalk-and-cheese twins Kit and Daisy.

And Keane returns to top form as she steers us through the twists and turns of a Machiavellian plot brimming with palpable menace, page-turning tension and more shocks than a frayed flex.

Ruby Darke, uncompromising owner of a successful store chain and renowned as the ice queen of retail, has come a long way since her early years as a despised mixed-race child in the tough East End.

But right now she is feeling tired and vulnerable as she struggles to come to terms with the brutal killing of her shady dealer boyfriend Michael Ward.

Chief murder suspect is millionaire Tito Danieri, Ward’s business partner and head of the terrifying Danieri family’s clan in London. Ward was himself the feared leader of a gang that ‘ran’ the streets but there are rivals on the scene now, not least the Danieris.

Also battling their own demons are Ruby’s grown-up twins, Daisy and Kit, whom she was forced to abandon at birth but have recently come back into her life. Kit has never forgiven his mother but was close to her lover Ward and has murdered Tito Danieri in a tit-for-tat act of revenge.

But now he fears he killed the wrong person and Tito’s ruthless brothers are out for his blood, and the blood of the entire Darke family.

As the bodies pile up, the chase is on. Can the Darkes resolve their own family conflicts and find Ward’s real killer before the vengeful Danieris kill them? Or will they be tempted to take the law into their own hands?

Keane’s books never fail to thrill. Smart dialogue and well-rounded characters add ballast and credibility to all the fast-paced action and breathtaking brutality.

She gives us humans and human emotion in every shade… from loving, loyal and devoted to fearsome, merciless and downright evil.

Prepare to be hooked from the very first page…

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)