I was lucky to get an advanced copy of this excellent novel from an author I did not know of. Based on this book, I will know her going forward. It is an excellent introduction into the world of the British mobster scene. In some ways it parallels "Wise Guy" (the book version of Goodfellas) however, Ms. Cole shows that these British thugs have very few rules of conduct.
Danny Boy Codigan is a fearsome "Face" which means he is a mobster that everybody knows and must give respect to (like a "made man" in the US mob). Ms. Cole starts the book with a glimpse of how the tale might end. We get the sense that everybody is plotting Danny Boy's death but afraid of the consequences should the plot fail. The book then flashes back to the beginning with a gripping story of how Danny got to be so powerful yet so hated. Danny was not even a teenager when two loan sharks appear at his door demanding payment for his father's (Big Danny) gambling debt. Big Danny had abandoned his family to pursue his own interests and didn't care that those interests may be detrimental to them.
Danny Boy shows no fear to the loan sharks and when Danny Boy's mother attacks them, Danny Boy joins the fray. This incident changes Danny Boy forever, changing him into the dark yet flamboyant up and coming Face that people start to talk about. Danny Boy is both charismatic and vicious at the same time. To those that don't know his vicious side, he is a "star" to be admired. However, behind closed doors he is brutal, especially to his own family. This book is an excellent read but those with a weak stomach for violence will be taken aback especially when Danny Boy deals with those that cross him or those he thinks need to be taught a lesson.
I give this book five stars and my only objection is that what happens usually involves pipes, knives and weapons of that sort and very rarely guns. So I wondered throughout why his enemies never gang up on him with firearms to take him out.
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