Lynda La Plante wrote the three Widows series for TV: great characters, blistering dialogue, terrific pace. She followed that up with Prime Suspect, which matched the same high quality over seven series. Both of them featured women as the protagonists, and that added a wonderful new perspective to the crime stories. So when I found this book – many, many years after publication, I must admit – I was expecting more tough female characters dealing with the ultra-macho world of the Mafia. It doesn’t quite work out that way.
The first 400 pages deal mainly with a man’s rise to the top ranks of the organization. When he dies, his wife and daughters-in-law are left facing all kinds of trouble from the mobsters and I thought, ‘Now we’re going to get the women fighting back!’ Not quite. What they mainly do is shout at each other. And argue about what to do. And then they shout at each other and argue some more. And some more after that. This goes on for roughly five hundred pages, with the odd murder thrown in from time to time to make you think there’s more to come than arguing and shouting.
I slogged through it all because I was curious to see how it ended, only to discover that when it does, it does so with the faint suggestion that now things are going to get really exciting. I see it has lots of fans on Amazon and Goodreads, but to me this reads as though L La P pounded out the pages to meet a deadline. And then moved on to something more interesting.