Gallowstree Lane by Kate London Corvus February 7th 2019
When a teenage boy steps out of the shadows of Gallowstree Lane and asks a passer-by for help, it’s already too late. His life is bleeding out on the London street.
The murder threatens to derail Operation Perseus, a cover police investigation into the Eardsley Bluds, an organised criminal network. Detective Kieran Shaw can’t and won’t allow that to happen. But fifteen-year-old Ryan has other ideas. He’s witnessed the death of his best friend, and now he wants someone to pay…
As loyalties collide, a chain of events is triggered that threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane.
Imagine a spider spinning its web, the strands are numerous, until finally they all fit neatly together, ready to catch its prey. This is exactly how I viewed Kate London’s Gallowstree Lane. It didn’t matter that it happened to be book three of a series, as it stood up so well as a standalone, even if there were a few bits that I perhaps, needed to catch up on.
The subject matter couldn’t have been more timely or relevant, as night after night we hear of another stabbing, of another, often young person in our cities. What does it mean for all those involved, wether they be the victim, the friends, the family, the gangs that run the streets or the detectives who have to solve the crime. London put me right in the middle of the action, from the chilling and horrifying first scene of young Spencer bleeding out on the street as his friend Ryan looked helplessly on to the frustration and danger encountered by the investigating detectives.
For me, it wasn’t so much about the investigation but the gang culture, their use of vulnerable young teens desperate for money, but most of all admiration and attention. Her characterisation of Ryan was superb, a young lad with no strong family behind him, no-one to put him right. His vulnerability and confusion screamed at me from the pages, my frustration with the police and authorities screamed even louder, as I read. It was almost like watching a car crash in slow motion.
The ruthless pursuit of territory, of superiority by the rival gangs the Bluds and the Soldiers was not pleasant to read, yet London’s real experience as a detective gave it an all too horrifying reality.
London was equally brilliant at her portrayal of the investigation and I was pleased that it wasn’t cold or unfeeling.
I loved Lizzie’s vulnerability as a single Mum, desperately trying to be a good mum to her toddler as well as a good police officer. I admired her tenacity and determination to put everything on the line to prove a point, that she could do it all no matter what. She was testament to how much harder it was to be woman in a mans world, which is not to say that is what I thought London was trying to achieve but my own personal thoughts.
Sarah was equally tenacious and determined, with a stubborn streak that saw her get results.
Lizzie and Sarah may have been polar opposites but they cared, they wanted to protect Ryan and they prevented the novel from being cold and hard, they gave it the emotion it needed. Now don’t get me wrong, I know men have feelings but London only gave me glimpses as Kieran fought to save all his hardwork of the past two years, they gave the novel balance with their harder, more pragmatic approach.
London handled her characters beautifully, her complex plot with ease, laying down layer upon layer of background, delicious intrigue and the London streets that held so much menace and danger.
If you want an honest, realistic portrait of the prevalent gang culture on the modern streets of our cities then i suggest you grab yourself a copy of this superb novel.
I would like to thank Corvus for a copy of Gallowstree Lane to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Kate London graduated from Cambridge University and moved to Paris where she trained in theatre. In 2006 Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on SC&O1 – the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She resigned from the MPS in August 2014. Her debut novel Post Mortem was published by Corvus in 2015.