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Book review: The Life by Martina Cole

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There’s good, there’s bad, there’s very, very bad ... and then there are the Bailey brothers.

No-one does gangsters like the inimitable Martina Cole and she’s on top form in her new thriller which takes us on another jaw-dropping journey into the unforgiving heart of London’s ruthless crime world.

It’s 20 years since her debut novel, Dangerous Lady, swept us away with its spectacular spotlight on gangland violence and this lady plans no U-turn from her unflinching portraits of East End criminals.

Cole’s latest blockbuster features a notorious family torn apart by violence and betrayal but ultimately bound by an unspoken code of loyalty, by blood and by a burning desire for revenge...

The Bailey brothers are gangsters determined to make their mark in the world. Peter and Daniel are chalk and cheese in many ways; Peter’s calm exterior belies his ruthless nature while his half brother Daniel’s penchant for spectacular violence is legendary. Together they are unstoppable.

From the late seventies they rule London’s East End and, when their sons join the business, it seems that no one can touch the powerful Baileys. However, it’s never easy at the top because there is always someone waiting to take you down, and sometimes it can be those closest to you.

Meanwhile, Daniel’s wife Lena is determined to shield her youngest child and only daughter Tania from the Life. Teenage Tania loves her father but is fully aware that he is a dangerous man with two sides – a loving husband and father, and a sadist who can cut off a man’s fingers without flinching.

But when a terrible tragedy occurs, revenge takes the Baileys into a quagmire in which they will lose all semblance of reality and Tania’s eyes are opened to their world in a way that forces her to make an irrevocable choice, one that will determine her future.

Brimming with menace, graphic scenes of violence, devilish twists and turns and yet intricately laced with home truths and some astute psychology, this is a gripping story of the Life, told as only Martina Cole can.

(Headline, hardback, £19.99)

 

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