A fun crime thriller, this tale of embezzlement, extortion and murder is formulaic and, overall, pretty entertaining, if not entirely novel. The author knows her financial markets, and there is a real air of British reality about it, though its usual suspects line-up of gamblers, loan sharks and hit men perhaps feels a little out of place in the otherwise everyday setting. Elizabeth portrays the capital as a den of brewing trouble, L.A. style - the rougher areas of Brixton and Manchester’s Moss Side painted, perhaps recklessly, as violent caricatures of what they are actually like. The picture of aggressive youths, brutal bouncers and troublesome beggars may be a touch more dramatic than the reality, and in a tale of otherwise day-to-day themes, it did strike me as a contrasting setpiece that Hollywood might paint of London, relying as much on a menace of the streets generally, as the danger in the story.
I read this book easily, finding myself engaged throughout, and keen to know where it was leading. The story is pretty good, about a misled hedge-fund manager blackmailed by his ruthless colleague, to the point where he snaps and concocts a plan to rid himself of the tormentor. Whilst this is fun to read, and sticks very closely to type, it did feel fortuitous in its creative licence, as the main characters just happen to personally know all the necessary, unsavoury people they need to. I must say I found it very strange that Nick wasn’t in any way suspicious of his new girlfriend’s unwavering propensity to serious crime; her ability and willingness to execute his murderous plan didn’t even raise eyebrows, let alone alarm. Indeed, as the book progresses, Nick’s choice of actions does seem to become more and more inane; in many ways, the author’s heavily cliché-laden style tended to affect this book’s credibility at times. Overall, the plot, whilst entertaining, wasn’t perhaps as clever as I had hoped it would be, although Elizabeth delivered the formula in an enjoyable and engaging package of a tale, which wraps up everything nicely - although when the revelation finally came, for me it wasn’t entirely a surprise.
If you’re a fan of story-based crime-noir fiction, but want the normal urban setting of Britain’s capital – with a touch of Martina Cole - this will probably be right up your street. I personally found much of the vernacular cringeworthy – both in London and the Westcountry, both areas to which I have strong personal links - but then I always do with vernacular. To her credit, though, the author relies more on the plotline and backstory than on gangster-trash and violence, and this definitely benefitted the book. If it had been the other way around, it would not have been as good a read. All in all, it was entertainment, and I would recommend it as an enjoyable way for fans of this genre to spend a couple of evenings.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: elizabeth-hamilton-smyth pulp crime thriller drama