BROKEN BODIES - June Hampson

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Broken Bodies
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Book Synopsis

From the book:
Daisy Lane returns to her home town of Gosport after a spell abroad.  She's been getting over the bad times, having lost both her husband Kenny and her lover Eddie to violent deaths.  Eddie was viciously murdered by London gangster Roy Kemp.  But in the months away from home Daisy has been busy - she's given birth to a baby boy, Eddie's son, and she's been plotting her revenge on Roy Kemp.  Now she's ready to carry out her plans.  But is it possible for a vulnerable woman to take on a man like Roy Kemp and not be badly hurt?
Book Review

BROKEN BODIES is a follow-up to the author's first book TRUST NOBODY so many of the characters and their back story come from that first novel.   Perhaps this is part of the reason why BROKEN BODIES was a bit of a slog to read, as many characters appear rapidly in quick succession in the early part of the book, talking the patois of the English gangster, talking about each other - dead or alive, it wasn't always easy to distinguish - as if the reader was acutely aware of who everyone was and what had happened in the past.  There was a little backfill as the story progressed but that initial opening had this reader floundering from the start and I never really recovered a sense of involvement in the book from there.
Eventually, as the story progresses it becomes obvious that the book is set in the sixties - heavy handed references to the Beatles; big hair; mini-skirts and other icons from the era place you firmly in the correct timeline for the story.  The remainder of the characters tend a little towards the stereotypical -  the Kray Twins were just a loveable pair of rascals; brothel workers have hearts of gold; and brothel proprietors are caring and concerned - except for the odd bad apple of course.
Of course the story that is being told is gritty and rough as - gangsters behaving badly to each other can't be told in highly refined English - but the patois was hard to follow on occasions.  There is also a very high level of explicit, and frequently sexual, violence which becomes desperately repetitive and therefore starts to lack any impact.   If you're the sort of reader that is fussed about high levels of mayhem and bad language you might have to avoid BROKEN BODIES.
In the end, looking carefully at the author's bio she is obviously writing about a world that is very real to her and the book is in all likelihood a very realistic portrayal of that world.  Unfortunately the atmosphere's pretty thick on occasions, the direness just too unremitting and the characters just a bit too much to let a story of any sort show through.

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