Calling all gangland fiction fans – this is a must read for you!
1964 – London Dolly Vincent is born to an East End gangster but is sent away for her own protection. Mad Mick is hell bent on his revenge and will stop at nothing to kill her.
Estranged from her family, she becomes a successful barrister, but after a defending a young Italian man she finds herself caught up in a secret held by a high court judge. Tortured and left for dead she flees London and heads to New York. Only the Vincent’s know where she is, but even they don’t know the truth.
1990 Francesca is back to face her demons but this time she is not alone.
One woman three names.
Set in the East End of London, Ruthless is a great choice for fans of gangland fiction. There are quite a few strands that make up this story, that centres around Dolly Vincent, but they all link together nicely, making this a fluid and easy read. And it always lights up my world when a novel features a bit of cockney rhyming slang!
Dolly is a fantastic protagonist, the criminal underworld is usually a man’s playground, so it was nice to see a female take centre stage and hold her own. Over the course of the novel, you get to know Dolly well, and support her, even when she is on the wrong side of the law. Ruthless can also be viewed as Dolly’s coming-of-age, she endures a lot, both physically and mentally and has to find the strength to not only come to terms with what has happened in her past but find the ruthlessness needed to face her demons.
One of the main attractions of this novel was the portrayal of the families involved. Firstly, the love and bond between the Vincent family was so strong, they really were a likeable family, in contrast to Mad Mick and his family who were terrifying. And what’s a gangster novel without Italians, they brought that honour, the code, the family love that makes you wish Italian blood was running through your veins, mafia or not, they get my vote!
For a novel of average length, just over 300 pages, so much takes place within it, I’d be lying if I said I flew through its pages because it felt like I was reading a novel of a longer length. But, I did enjoy it from cover to cover, I was able to take my time and just enjoy all that was occurring. My only annoyance was the constant references to how pretty Dolly was, like a woman who’s not ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ wouldn’t be capable of the things Dolly was able to achieve.
I recommend this novel to fans of gangland fiction, particularly those who have enjoyed novels by Kimberly Chambers, Jacqui Rose and Casey Kelleher.