Hard Girls, Martina Cole

| 10 March , 2010 | Reply

Kristy McCormick

Touted as “the only author who dares to tell it like it really is” Martina Cole sure knows how to pack a punch. Her novel, Hard Girls, is not for the faint hearted. The book is set in the tough streets of East London and explores the harsh reality of living, and working, alongside London\’s gangland.

A young and beautiful prostitute is found brutally murdered. The details of the killing are horrific and the police are determined to catch the killer, for certain fear that they will strike again. And strike again they do – this time the victim is even more horribly mutilated than the last and the police are worried this is just the beginning of something really big.

DCI Annie Carr is on the job – but it\’s her first big case and she needs help. Kate Burrows is a retired DCI who is called in to consult and who has had plenty of experience with murderers. And plenty of experience with criminals too. And when it looks like her lover, notorious crime boss Patrick Kelly, is somehow linked with the prostitutes being killed things get even messier.

Annie and Kate are determined to find the killer, but as more bodies are found there are simply no clues left behind. They battle to find leads, but end up finding more dead ends than anything else. Kate\’s contacts in the crime world are tight-lipped too – no-one wants to be seen to be helping the ‘filth\’ if they can avoid it.

Hard Girls is a well written, tightly woven thriller – if you can pick the killer before the last couple of chapters then you are certainly doing better than I did. Aside from the murders and the race to solve the case though, there is also a great side story of life in the crime world. The story of Patrick Kelly, crime boss, and his dealings with all sorts of legitimate (and not so legitimate) businesses, shady characters and his fight to stay on the straight and narrow for his policewoman lover makes for great reading also. I must admit I was quite fascinated with the life these men (and women) lead – all dodgy business deals and a hierarchy that could literally spell the difference between life and death if you mess with it!

Overall, I enjoyed this book – but be warned, descriptions of the murders are gruesome and quite disturbing. Some of the language also took a bit of getting used to – Cole uses terms that are clearly very common in East London but not so much here. They don\’t detract from the enjoyment of the story though and in actual fact really add another dimension to the characters and the environment in which they live. Recommended for all die-hard crime fans.

Available now: Hachette RRP$24.99


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