After seeing various recommendations from people about Jacqui Rose debut novel Taken I bit the bullet and downloaded it onto my Kindle. I promptly forgot about it and it got swallowed up into my stupidly extensive list of books I have yet to read. However, her name kept popping up and with her exceptional rating on Amazon (4 out of 5 over 100 reviews) I picked it up. I must say that I am very glad I did now. What was I thinking leaving it that long?
One thing that must be hard as a new author is standing out from the crowd. The crime genre is generally littered with the longer standing authors and it must be hard work for the debut novelists out there. Thankfully with the word spreading amongst readers I am glad to see Jacqui Rose come up frequently. She has chosen to write her debut novel based in London and featuring some heavy `hard-men'. With a London Gangster feel to it I wondered if she would be well remembered with authors that are practically legends such as Martina Cole, Mandasue Heller and Kimberley Chambers out there.
I started reading and met the main character of the book Casey Edwards. Casey had turned up in Soho following a hard life which involved giving away her child at 15 and then turning to alcohol, men and drugs to get through her life. She is hoping for a fresh start and the ability to find her child and put things right. After arriving in London she meets Mob boss Alfie Jennings, the cruel and vindictive partner of his Oscar and before long is caught up in their world. She also meets Vaughn who is an ex-gangster and an absolutely brilliant character.
The first half of the book takes us into the murky world of Alfie and Oscar and I would be lying if I said that some parts of the book are not pleasant reading. However, it makes it all the more authentic (and a hell of a lot more exciting to read). The topics covered involve money, drugs, trafficking and sex and that's just to name a few. If this sort of thing doesn't rock your boat in terms of fiction then this may not be the book for you. One thing I want to point out is that there IS swearing and violence in this book. It grates on me occasionally when I read reviews with people complaining about this. Would you expect a London Gangster to point to the door and politely ask his arch rival to vacate the building because he can't bear to speak to him? Err I think not...point made!
The second half of the book was a lot more exciting as Casey finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous situation. Oscar Harding was a vile character and I was crossing my fingers and hoping for the worst for him from start to finish. Towards the end things became even faster paced and the ending was wrapped up with the right amount of excitement and drama. It would be nice to see a couple of the characters again in future books but we will have to wait and see what Jacqui Rose has in store for us next time. As I said before, with the British crime writers out there already it must be hard work to join the dizzy heights of the `Crime Queens' we have out there, however with this debut novel Jacqui Rose is well on her way! I look forward top her new release in March 2013.