Damaged Goods by June Hampson
|Damaged Goods by June Hampson|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: The return of Daisy Lane and Roy Kemp in the underworld of sixties London. This time Daisy is on the receiving end of a deadly obsession - can she escape, can she survive? One may not necessarily imply the other.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: February 2008|
Daisy Lane hasn't chosen the easiest of lives. Her beloved Eddie was murdered, and part of her revenge for that involved not only taking on his killer, the gangster Roy Kemp - but doing it on the Krays' manor. Somehow, she got away with it and life is settling down.
Back home in Gosport, she's living in the house that Eddie's money bought, with her toddler son, named Eddie for his father, and her friends: Vera (one time hooker, currently massage-parlour-come-mid-range brothel owner), Suze (ex-hooker, childminder, married, and looking forward to running a bookshop).
She's also deeply involved - love isn't a word she really understands - or if she does, it's reserved for the late lamented Eddie. She's deeply involved with Roy Kemp.
Right now, however, at the opening of Damaged Goods, she's deeply in something else. And it doesn't smell too sweet. Kidnapped. In some darkened room, and chained to the wall. Regularly beaten, raped and doped up on Ketamine, Daisy has no idea where she is, only the faintest idea how long she's been there and no idea how - or indeed if - she's going to get out.
Daisy Lane. The feisty, look-after-yourself, look-after-your-own, hard bitten anti-heroine of Broken Bodies is being destroyed. Eroded. Damaged.
Meanwhile, those that know she's missing have their own reasons for not going to the police... not least the possibility that it could just be the Krays involved.
Daisy knows better... she knows her attacker all too well: the boxer Valentine Waite. Waite is - not to put too narrow a definition on it - mad. Sick. Prostitutes are dying, and he is behind it... suspected at the end of Broken Bodies, it's clear within the prologue of Damaged Goods... but why - and how does the abduction and keeping of Daisy fit into his damaged view of the world? Is she his next victim, or does he have something else in mind?
Either way - can her friends find her, or can she escape without their help, before Waite intentionally or otherwise ends her life?
Damaged Goods is the third instalment of Daisy's story, following Trust Nobody and Broken Bodies. The glamour that shone through the darkness of Broken Bodies is nowhere to be seen in this episode. We're still in the sixties, but times are changing more quickly now. Some of the big names are already inside. The Krays are beginning to lose control - in more ways than one. Racketeering and gaming are already beginning to give way to drugs as the means to the end. This time, Hampson has the confidence not to gild the lily. And as she herself points out the lily is 'the death flower'.
This time, the criminal underworld is just that. It is seedy and dirty and whilst there are still name-dropping cash-rich crooks wandering around the edges of the arts & film world - and their counterparts doing the opposite - on the whole, it is ordinary folk who get caught up the violence and the squalor.
If the only ways out of poverty are fighting and crime, she tells us, there's only one option left for a boxer that didn't make it.
As with previous instalments, Hampson tells the tale in the vernacular. She doesn't spare the f- or c-words. Sex happens - and her descriptions are technical rather than erotic. But there are fewer unnecessary indulgences this time around. There's none of the need to show off a literary heritage that's out of place... but some of the references are still forced.
Modern readers can see Stockholm Syndrome being played out, without it being named - for the victim to identify it in themselves in such short order is unlikely, and if they did, it would be because the concept had made such an impression on them when first hearing of it, that they would then have remembered the name.
The fixing of dates is still overdone. London 1966 - we can't possibly let it pass without mentioning the World Cup can we? Actually, we could have done.
On the other hand, the musical backdrop irritated me much less this time around. The author is learning how to slip the songs in less obtrusively. Not all of them are fully identified, and her mood-selection of music works much better.
Great literature it isn't, but if you're up for a nostalgic look at crime from the days when street-justice wasn't frowned upon it's a cracking-paced read. Not a whodunit, or even a whydunit, but a will-they-get-away-with-it? The bad guys are all that they seem and worse - except those that aren't - and the good guys... well some of them turned out to be the real surprises.
Some of the best twists in the story are those that don't happen.
It's a book not to be analysed too deeply. One to read in a sitting or two, as pure escapism.
And we'll forgive you for fondly remembering the bags of broken biscuits, the prefabs, flannelette sheets and false eyelashes. The world wasn't better or safer then... it wasn't really that much different at all.
Thanks to the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
You might also like Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger.
You can read more book reviews or buy Damaged Goods by June Hampson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Damaged Goods by June Hampson at Amazon.com.
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