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Kat's Review of The Life by Martina Cole

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My Review 3/5

Martina Cole, a legend in her own right. However, the question of whether she still 2has what it takes" is something that's bandied around a lot recently. As much as I am loathed to admit it, I can see why the negative comments come around. The problem with us readers is that we are a finikity bunch, who expects authors to continually churn out a 5 star read every year without fail. When you actually stop to think about it Martina Cole has been writing since 1992 which is an astonishing 20 years. Martina's last two releases were middle of the road for me. If you compare her current books to her earlier work such as books like The Jump, her newer material is nowhere near as good.

I think that as such a talented author, she is going to once again create an absolute corker of a book and somehow I always end up being a little disappointed. Whether that's because I feel like the bar is set a bit higher for her, or just because the competition is just too good now, I really don't know. This latest release The Life certainly has a good synopsis that's for sure. The Bailey brothers are gangsters determined to make their mark on the world (sounding familiar), yet the two brothers are complete opposites. When their sons join the business, it seems like nothing can stop them. When Lena Bailey gives birth to a girl, she is determined to shield her from The Life. When a tragedy occurs, it changes everybody and their life as they know it.

I started reading this book with high hopes (as usual) and to be honest one thing you cannot fault is Martina's writing style. The lady has some clear cut talent and it's an unmistakable style that draws you in to the characters and their lives. This book was easy reading for me and pretty soon I felt drawn into the Bailey world and was reading chapter after chapter. On the down side, at around the halfway mark it just seemed like too much hard work. The story was okay, but sadly it was just the same old, same old. I knew where Martina was taking the story and characters and felt like this fell into the same category of been there and read it!

The book took me three days to read and to be brutally honest it was probably at least 100 pages too long. I feel a little sad to say but I wonder whether Martina should carry on with this type of book. The competition out there, especially with newer writers emerging all the time, is making Martina's work look poor in comparison. I think at this stage what I would love to see is something completely different from Martina Cole. She truly is an author with a gift for writing, but she just needs to get out of the `tried and tested' formula she keeps using. Maybe steer away from the East End Gangster type of book and try a new direction. I truly believe that with her huge following and legions of fans, that they would welcome something fresh and new from one of the ultimate British female crime writers.

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