QUEEN OF THIEVES
I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Queen of Thieves. This is based on women who originate from South East London and I tell anyone who will listen, that is where I come from and I still live near SE London now!
I have an extract for you today, but I am eagerly awaiting the paperback which is being published later this month and will review as soon as I can.
So enjoy this sneaky peak into the underworld of South East London, but with the women in charge!
Gangland was a man's world - but the women knew different London, 1946.
Alice Diamond, the Queen of the Forty Thieves, rules over her gang of hoisters with a bejewelled fist. Nell is a slum girl from Waterloo, hiding a secret pregnancy and facing a desperately uncertain future.
Sensing an opportunity to exploit Nell's vulnerabilities, Alice takes her under her wing and, before long, Nell is experiencing the secret world of hoisting, with all the dangers - and glamorous trappings - that comes with this underworld existence.
Alice has a longstanding feud with Billy Sullivan's all-male gang in Soho, and thinks Nell could be a useful weapon in her vendetta. But Nell has a secret agenda of her own, and is not to be underestimated. And the more she is exploited by both Alice and Billy, the more her hunger for revenge grows. As she embraces the seedy underbelly of London, will she prevail in carving out her own path to power and riches...
...and crown herself the Queen of Thieves?
From Sunday Times bestselling author Beezy Marsh comes a thrilling new crime saga series, perfect for fans of Sam Michaels, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane.
Beezy Marsh is a top ten Sunday Times bestselling author, who has also held the coveted No.1 slot in Canada for three months. She puts family and relationships at the heart of her writing. She is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Beezy is married with two sons, and lives in Oxfordshire.
London, June 1953
The sleek sable wrap feels so sumptuous between my fingers, I simply can’t resist it.
The fur is heavenly and soft; it’s exactly what I’m looking for. The whole street is going to be dolled up to the nines for the Coronation Party and I don’t want to disappoint because I’m royalty too; Queen of my manor, that is.
The minute the shop assistant’s back is turned, I snatch it from the rail and begin to roll it, quickly, into a tight, furry bundle.
I yank open the baggy waistband of my skirt and shove the wrap down the leg of my knickers. They are voluminous, real passion killers, with elastic at each knee, designed with one purpose in mind: going shopping.
Clouting, we call it, and I’m the best in the West End of London, stepping away from that clothes rail as if I haven’t a care in the world.
It hasn’t always been this easy; I’ve had my fair share of close shaves, especially in the early days, when I was learning my craft. Even now, the thrill of stealing mingles with a fear of being tumbled by the shop staff, which makes my hands clammy.
Being a thief wasn’t the career I had in mind when I was growing up but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know the way your life is going to turn out.
By the time I left school, I’d never even pinched so much as a sherbet lemon from the pick ’n’ mix at Woolworths.
All that changed after we won the war.
Victory tasted sweet but as I soon found out, it couldn’t stop the hunger pangs. Beating Hitler was one thing, but Britain was broke.
Rationing got worse and before you knew it, most folks were taking a bit of crooked, just to make life more bearable. It was all well and good for politicians to tell us not to grumble but they never went short, did they?
Wherever you looked there were bomb craters and piles of rubble. Weeds and wildflowers sprung up among the ruins, and excited kids claimed bombsites as their playgrounds, no matter how many times their mums told them not to. Life went on but there was little or no money to rebuild.
In London, battered by war but bursting with people hungry for some fun and what little luxuries they could afford, the black-marketeers and their bosses saw a golden opportunity.
After all, gangland was a man’s world.
That’s what they thought.
But us women, well, we knew different.
This is our story.