I’ll tell you what I was going to say when I finished this book, my first Martina Cole gangland novel. I had it in mind to muse on the fact that she is a best-selling author, that she certainly knows the world of crime and criminals and that she is without any doubt a compelling story teller. Dangerous Lady absolutely zips along and the reader is drawn into a gripping crime story, a crime saga, dealing as it does with the Ryans, an
East End criminal family, over a period of thirty years. It’s a tale of protection rackets, grubby London clubs, gold bullion robberies, violent characters, brutal killings and a most determined and ruthless woman who might never have turned to crime had it not been for sad chance.
Then, having told you what a splendid tale-teller Ms Cole is, I was going to say that she’s not a great writer. Can that be so? Does it make sense? I think it does. Her prose style is clumsy, undeveloped, and her dialogue is wooden. And yet, despite these drawbacks, her story is undeniably riveting.
Well, that’s what I was going to say (yes, I know, I’ve said it) until I thought I’d just check up some background details and I discovered that this was her first book, written when she was only twenty, that she finished it and locked it away in a cupboard for a couple of years. Then, it seems, that quite by chance she came across it and decided to send it to an agent. Seems an unconvincing tale, a bit too romantic and totally unconvincing, but that’s where she set off on her path to fame and the book was an instant best-seller. And more best sellers followed, four of them made into outstanding television serials.
So, I think I ought to hold back in my judgement and read more of Ms Cole’s work. And I have to say that I’m really looking forward to doing so.
In the meantime, I’m looking in the cupboard at home because I fancy I put a really great story in there several years ago.