Review: Dangerous by Jessie Keane

Wednesday 11 February 2015
Title: Dangerous
Author: Jessie Keane
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 12th February 2015
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781447254263
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Coronation year: 1953. Fifteen-year-old Clara Dolan's world is turned upside down following the shock death of her mother. Battling to keep what remains of her family together, Clara vows to keep her younger siblings, Bernadette and Harry, safe whatever the cost.

With the arrival of the swinging sixties, Clara finds herself swept up in London's dark underworld where the glamour of Soho's dazzling nightclubs sit in stark contrast to the terrifying gangland violence that threatens the new life she has worked so hard to build.

Sinking further into an existence defined by murder and betrayal, Clara soon realises that success often comes at a very high price . .

How does Jessie Keane do it? When I discovered that Dangerous was a standalone I was a little apprehensive, the Annie Carter series is brilliant but perhaps complete and the same could be said for the Ruby Darke series, yet I would like to see that continued one day. That said, I wasn't that far into Dangerous when I became fully engrossed in the story and all apprehension vanished.

The opening to Dangerous reminded me a little of Kay Brellend's sagas set on Campbell Road, a notorious London slum with whole families packed into one room, sharing a stinking toilet with the residents having to almost sleep with one eye open to protect themselves. It is on a road like that where we meet fifteen-year-old Clara Dolan, who finds her world turned upside down when her mother dies because of complications during childbirth. Not wanting to be split up from her siblings, Clara must flee the house, desperately turning to somebody she hopes can help but who in turn brings about her introduction to London's underworld. We see Clara turn from a vulnerable young girl, into a woman as she is forced to make some difficult decisions in her attempts to keep her family together.

As much as I liked Clara, and rooted for her, she wasn't without her faults, but I did feel she acted in the best interests of her siblings; quiet, sensible Bernie and out of control Henry. She builds her life and future off the back of men, by using them for her own personal gain. As a genre famed for its strong, independent women, without the help (or idiocy) of men, Clara would never have made it out of the slums. As we know a little about where the story is headed from the Prologue (before going back in time), the shocks and twists don't really come into play until we reach that moment later on in the book. That said, the twists in this book are some of the best yet and there's one in Dangerous that I just didn't expect, it was brilliant but I feel I should have seen it coming.

As always we are introduced to a lot of characters, far too many to mention here and I wouldn't want to for fear of spoilers with describing who everybody is but in a book like this most people are out for what they can get, nearly all of the characters are untrustworthy, a little unsavoury and those moments where the bad guys get their comeuppance are some of the most enjoyable. As always our main character, in this case Clara, has people out for revenge because of her actions. One of the villains is, as always, ridiculously attractive, a bit of an enigma, rich and there's an instant attraction between Marcus Redmayne and Clara whereas the less attractive, poorer villain develops somewhat of an obsession with Clara, causing untold grief for all concerned. There's so much I want to say about the characters, but can't for fear of spoilers.

What I love most about these books, whether from Jessie or her contemporaries is being transported back in time to London in the 50s and 60s. Growing up I was fascinated with the likes of the Kray twins, and read and watched anything I could about that era and we are now spoilt for choice for books set around this time; Jessie, Kimberley Chambers and Jacqui Rose to name a few who are at the top of their game. Jessie in particular paints a truly realistic picture of that era, to the point where it really is like being there for yourself. She is somebody that knows what she's talking about, and isn't afraid to tell it like it is, which makes for an exciting read but at the same time a pretty bleak, yet completely believable one.

The last hundred pages in particular of this book were brilliant, I just couldn't and wouldn't stop reading until I finished the book and then I instantly regretted it because I always rush through Jessie's books, and then have a torturous wait for the next one. As I said at the start, I have no idea how Jessie does it. Writing books in the same genre, yet still managing to make each one fresh, original and different but at the same time retaining all those features that make this genre the massive success that it is. I can almost guarantee Jessie's fans will love this book, and have no hesitation in recommending it as a must buy. Not ending on a cliffhanger, I feel this book will remain as a standalone which is a shame as certain things felt a bit rushed, whereas in the past they would have been continued in a future book, so who knows what Jessie will bring us next? I cannot wait to find out.


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