Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Born Bad by Marnie Riches

born-bad

I discovered Marnie Riches last year when I read Book 3 in her Georgina McKenzie series. I was really impressed with it and you can read my review here (my review of girl who walked in shadows). I immediately downloaded books 1 and 2, and have since bought book 4. Please  whatever you do, don't tell Marnie but I just haven't managed to read them yet.....and I really have no excuses. 
It's not a good week for me with all these confessions of unread books. I am in danger of having to change my name from Bibliomaniac to Bibliophobe.

But the good news is that Born Bad is a new standalone crime thriller from Riches so I was extremely pleased when I was offered an ARC in return for an honest review. And for the first time this week, I wouldn't be out of step with a series but starting at the beginning at the adventure alongside all the other fans of her books! I was also excited to read more of Riches work as even though it is a year ago, I remember The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows and her great characterisation of McKenzie.

So, what is Born Bad all about?

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.
But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…
Welcome to Manchester. Welcome to the back streets and criminal world of Manchester. Prepare yourself for a high speed ride through the underworld of Manchester. Prepare yourself from a gritty, no nonsense, no holding back novel that is littered with expletives, crooked businesses and violent gangs.

Yes. Riches is back. Her new novel is born and it is bad!

It starts by introducing us to Sheila with her Porsche, her Louboutins, her pristine house and the nails she's chipped carrying in the gun she's just brought for her husband. That's right - a gun. She struggles to hide this special 'present' she wants to surprise Paddy with "but at least the determined Mancunian rain wasn't falling on her freshly blow-dried hair." Quite!

I was glad to be back in the hands of Riches. Her ability to set up a scene, a location and a character quickly but convincingly is great. I like the slight touch of humour or sarcasm when appropriate to help the shape the reader's response to the people that she introduces and I really like Riches tone of voice and down to earth style of writing.

Sheila and Paddy's relationship is troubled and within a few pages we have witnessed our first act of violence. This establishes what kind of story we are reading and what we might expect from the characters from the outset.

"'Nice gun,' he said. Then he hit her over the head hard with the barrel."
Yes. She doesn't mince her words this Riches.

It might take a bit of getting used to but the overall effect is that this is a fast paced, punchy (literally and metaphorically!) crime thriller with a well controlled plot. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but you are in safe hands and Riches is able to juggle the different voices and points of view. The chapters are short so this makes it easier to keep on top of who, what and when and they are all headed with that particular character's name which also very clearly keeps the reader on track. Riches is able to manage the voices and threads with confidence and this is a very fluent, seamless read. These characters may wheel and deal, move and shake, shout and scream within the dark and low shadows of the criminal world but the reader never sinks and always stays afloat, carried along with the excitement, tension, anticipation and dramatic storytelling.

Although the language is often a little crude, it is never gratuitous and reads as many modern films sound. But in and amongst the pacy, rapid dialogue there are often passages which reflect Riches ability to conjure very evocative scenes through clever images and astute observations. I particularly liked the description of the people outside the hospital and the "stinking flesh of smokers who are trying on their corpses for size." I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in a plot driven, tense and brutal novel and forget that actually even though is popular fiction, a crime story as opposed to literary fiction, the author still has an impressive control of language. Riches has an ability to place you firmly in a world outside your comfort zone and amongst characters who were you to sit next to in real life would utterly terrify you. The very fact that she can reflects her skill as a writer and her appeal as an established crime writer. 

It's a good read. Intriguing, shocking, uncomfortable, blunt, scary, gritty and realistic. I look forward to the next book and I look forward to staying on top of this series! 

If you enjoy Howard Linskey's David Blake series then you will enjoy this. If you like Angela Clarke, you will like this. If you liked Georgina McKenzie then you are in for a treat. 

Born Bad is published by Avon on the 9th March 2017.
Marnie Riches 
Marnie Riches
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children's author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women's fiction.

Marnie Riches is the author of The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - the first installment of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins.

In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn't?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers.
 
For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk) 

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