The Runaway by Martina Cole

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‘You nosy mare, mind your own business or I’ll punch you in the bleedin’ boat race.’

Yes, this is how Martina Cole’s characters actually talk. I quite enjoyed the effing and blinding cockney though.

Set in the East End and Soho, London, The Runaway tells the story of young Cathy and childhood best friend/first love Eamonn as they attempt to escape abuse and poverty. Cathy is institutionalised and Eamonn escapes to New York.

It’s gripping- a thriller set in world of gangsters and girls on the game. We meet drug dealers, the Mafia, the filth, and madams. Warning though: it is hardcore- bad things happen in the murky underworld of 60s London. Certainly not one for the faint of heart.

Granted, a lot of Cole’s books are very similar (I’ve just read 5 in quick succession) but it’s not just 2D Eastenders characters in novel format. Her gangsters or bad mothers are more complex and nuanced. It makes you reassess standards of good and bad, whilst entertaining you as much as any Soho club.

Read: When you’re feeling hardcore.

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