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Guide price: £8
Last updated on 7th Dec 2009
Martina Cole is not so much a publishing phenomenon (although she is certainly that) as a something of a force of nature. Though the sales of her tough East End-set novels are the envy of many a writer, and despite her punishing work regime (from the regularity of her publication schedule, it doesn't appear that she ever takes a holiday), the standard of her writing is always consistent: direct and no-nonsense.
She writes about men and women who are prepared to bend the rules in the most uncompromising fashion, and it's clear that this technique strikes a chord in many a reader; we may lead law-abiding lives, but we can't deny that those who step outside the strictures of society hold a grim fascination. She has an unerring ear for dialogue and everyday speech, and it is this (as much of her in-your-face storytelling) that gives her books such an impact.
Since her debut novel Dangerous Lady in 1992, there has been a steady stream of equally forceful books, of which the latest is Hard GirlsThe murdered body of a prostitute is discovered, grotesquely mutilated and sexually assaulted. The condition of the body is a shock even to DCI Annie Carr -- a woman who has no illusions about life.
Kate Burrows once held down the same job as Annie, but is now retired and acting as consultant. Kate is a woman who has plenty of experience when it comes to capturing murderers (the Grantley Ripper was one of those she tracked down), and took on a paedophile ring in the southeast. Kate takes on the task of helping to catch a sadistic killer, and working with Annie Carr, the two women realise that they will have to move into different territory -- territory that will be a challenge even to these two experienced police women.Fans of Martina Cole (and they are legion) know exactly what to expect from her, and she delivers here as unswervingly as ever.
And if you’re the kind of reader who is made uncomfortable by being forced to sympathise (or at least understand) protagonists who are on the wrong side of the law, Hard Girls is a book for you, with its two powerfully realised female copper heroines.
Don't be surprised if (as in the recent TV adaptation of The Take) filmmakers come calling at Ms. Cole’s door over this one: this is a book...