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
'Cole is brilliant at portraying the good among the bad, and vice versa, so until the very end we never quite know who to trust. This is the very stuff that makes her so compelling' (Daily Mirror
'Right from the start [Cole] has enjoyed unqualified approval for her distinctive and powerfully written fiction' (The Times
Intensely readable (Guardian
'Martina Cole explores the shady criminal underworld, a setting she is fast making her own' ( Sunday Express )
'Utterly compelling' ( Mirror )
'The story will grip you from the first pages' ( Best )
'Gritty novel from an author who knows intimately the world she writes about' ( Express )
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