"It had been madness then. It was still madness now."
Born Bad will be released this Thursday (9th March 2017). It is written by Marnie Riches and published by Avon.
I was intrigued by the sound of this Manchester gangland book, I like a bit of gangster fiction. But, while there is a good story in there somewhere, it's hard to make it out from the rather untidy story telling. That sounds a bit odd, but it's the best way I can think of to describe it, Born Bad has so many story-lines and characters, but they're all a bit sloppily executed.
The battle is on...
When gang leader Paddy O'Brien is stabbed in his bother's famous nightclub, Manchester's criminal underworld is shaken to its 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 Bodlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.
But war comes easy to 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...
I picked this book up and put it down several times as it didn't really grip me until about the last 20%, but I'm glad I did read it as I actually liked the twist ending (which I did guess, but it was still good).
Born Bad is told from several characters' points of view, which is a technique I like, and it was interesting to see the different sides of the story.
I also liked some of the characters, mainly the smaller players, such as Gloria, who I thought was a good mix of devout, sanctimonious and mysterious.
However, while there were good characters I also felt that some of them were classic gangster stereotypes, especially the main character of Paddy who I think could have really been explored more. I also couldn't bring myself to feel for Lev at all, even though he's clearly supposed to be the crook with a heart, I found his sections quite boring, he just didn't connect.
Another major issue I had with the book was the dialogue. I felt like half of it needed to be cut out. There was a lot of characters talking to themselves, which I never find very believable, and also some of the words used just didn't sound realistic.
"How's my gorgeous hunk?"
Does anyone say hunk anymore? Really?
I really don't like being nasty about a book as I know from experience the hard work that goes into writing a novel, and there were elements of Born Bad that I enjoyed, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was a bit more streamlined. I feel like someone should have taken it in hand, cut out all the unnecessary dialogue and prose, tidied up the storytelling and given the pace a kick up the backside.
It's meant to be a pacy gangland drama but I found the time scale a bit stilted. There was a lot of running around and panicking, but the general pace of the story was a little slow.
I'm sure you can tell this is a very mixed review. I struggled with Born Bad but it was frustrating mainly because I think there was a good story to be told, and I liked reading about the dark side of Manchester's gang life, but I was distracted by clunky dialogue and tired by cliche characters.
My Rating: 2.5/5 (rounded up to 3 for NetGalley and Goodreads)
I received a digital copy of Born Bad via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.