Birth of a mobster

2007-12-19 00:00

Faces, set in the heart of London and exposing the harsh realities of mob justice and the narcissistic tendencies of the main character, is surprisingly utterly addictive.

Dealing with tough subject matter, the 538-page book is nevertheless an easy read, which demands very little of the reader.

We are introduced to 14-year-old Danny Boy Cadogan, from a poor Irish family, as his father runs up a gambling debt he cannot pay. Big Dan Cadogan consequently goes on the run from the mobsters who want to collect their funds and also from his poverty-stricken family. As the eldest child, Danny Boy takes it upon himself to settle the score — both in terms of the thugs who come knocking on his mother’s door to recover the debt and with his rogue of a father for deserting the family.

A perverse aspect of the novel is that Danny Boy is a devout Catholic, but he soon learns that power and money are his gods in the Earthly realm and the means to the top of the mob world. He ruthlessly sets out to show that he has arrived and means business, and will stop at nothing to get what he desires.

As the callous Danny Boy climbs the mob ladder, his behaviour becomes more and more reprehensible, eroding the love and respect his family and close friends have for him. His ruthless treatment of those he targets for his cruel punishment is pretty graphic, so be aware that a squirm or two may be in store. Cole’s style is enjoyable, but she has a tendency to over-explain why her characters feel the way they do, which can be a touch tedious. But if you don’t mind putting your brain into a comfortable neutral position, you should find this a brilliant book for the holidays.

Faces is sure to join Martina Cole’s numerous other novels on the bestseller lists.

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