The return of Cole's queen of the criminal underworld, Maura Ryan, in Maura's Game
is welcome indeed. Since her first novel Dangerous Lady
(which introduced Maura), Cole has broadened her appeal with such novels as Two Women
, a grim picture of domestic abuse that coincided with a government initiative on the subject. The new book has no sociological concerns: it's just an extremely powerful journey through a dark underworld where life is cheap.
Maura Ryan has left her life of crime behind her after a big score, and fondly imagines that she can settle down with the man she loves. But the life she has left behind is full of enemies who have plans to make things very tough for her, unless she can make things tough for them first. The proceeds from her last gold-bullion robbery can't help her: she needs all her wit and sinew to survive.
The queasy feeling that comes from being forced to identify with such a ruthless character is a carefully calculated part of Martina Cole's tactics, and works to unsettling effect in this hard-edged thriller. We are never comfortable reading Maura's Game, and that's exactly what the author had in mind. If your taste is for cosy, middle-class thrillers, this is most definitely not for you. But fans of Martina Cole will know exactly what to expect--and boy, does she deliver. --Barry Forshaw
The Guardian ran a piece in Inside Track (latest news from the publishing industry) on Martina Cole.
"With her second number 1 of 2002 she joins the small band of so called "mega" authors, in a particularly valuable category who produce at least one new book a year...Cole's success, like Rankin's, follows a steady build-up of a kind that is becoming rare in the book business, which prefers nowadays to produce such results instantly."
'Pacy and dramatic' Woman's Own (Woman's Own
'A violently realistic thriller of East End life, with Essex-born Cole once again proving adept at getting authentic language down on the page' Closer magazine (Closer magazine