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Authors: Martina Cole

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Dangerous Lady

BOOK: Dangerous Lady
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Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole. Back Cover Notes.

No one thinks a seventeen-year-old girl can take on the hard men of London’s gangland, but it’s a mistake to underestimate Maura Ryan: ” she’s tough, clever and beautiful - and she’s determined that nothing will stand in her way. Together, she and her brother Michael are unbeatable: the Queen and King of organised crime. But notoriety has its price. The police are determined to put away Maura once and for all - and not everyone in the family thinks that’s such a bad idea. When it comes to the crunch, Maura has to face the pain of lost love in her past - and the dangerous lady discovers her heart is not made entirely of stone.

Praise for Martina Cole’s bestsellers: ‘Right from the start [Cole] has enjoyed unqualified approval for her distinctive and powerfully written fiction’ The Times

‘The slags and scum of Cole’s fictional underworld are becoming the stuff of legend… It’s vicious, nasty and utterly compelling’ Mirror Cover photograph by Richard Haughton headline

Fiction/General Over the last ten years, Martina Cole has written nine outstandingly successful bestsellers. Her most recent novel, Faceless, shot straight to No. 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list and total sales of Martina’s novels now ixceed three million copies. Dangerous Lady became a hu gely popular TV drama series, as did The Jump, and s everal of her other novels are in production for TV. This t enth anniversary edition of her first novel is being published to celebrate Martina Cole’s bestselling career and to c oincide with the publication of her latest novel, Maura’s G ame, which is the sequel to Dangerous Lady. Martina C ole has a son and daughter and she lives in Essex. Praise for Martina Cole’s bestsellers: ‘Right from the start Cole has enjoyed unqualified a pproval for her distinctive and powerfully written fiction’ The Times.

‘Intensely readable’ . Guardian ‘Gritty novel from an author who knows intimately the wo rld she writes about’ Daily Express The slags and scum of Cole’s fictional underworld are

becoming the stuff of legend … It’s vicious, nasty and

utterly compelling’ Mirror You won’t be able to put this one down’ Company Set to be another winner’ Woman’s Weekly Martina Cole again explores the shady criminal underworld, a setting she is fast making her own’

Sunday Express Powerful, evocative and crackling with lowlife humour’

Maeve Haran Also by Martina Cole

 

The Ladykiller Goodnight Lady

The Jump

The Runaway

Two Women

Broken

Faceless

Maura’s Game

Dangerous Lady 10th Anniversary Edition Martina Cole

headline

Copyright (c) 1992 Martina Cole The right of Martina Cole to be identified as the Author of

the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published in 1992 by HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING This paperback edition published in 2002 by HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING

10987654321

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which ‘f, it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. All characters in this publication are fictitious

and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,

is purely coincidental. ISBN 0 7472 3932 0 Typeset in Galliard by Letterpart Limited, Reigate, Surrey Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham pic, Chatham, Kent HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING

A division of Hodder Headline V 338 Euston Road

LONDON NW13BH www.headline.co.uk www.hodderheadline.com To my parents Foreword When my editor Clare Foss asked me to write this foreword for the tenth anniversary edition of Dangerous Lady, I never realised how much my life had changed over the last decade, until I sat down and thought about it. I now have a beautiful grandson Lewis and, in true ‘Martina Cole’ fashion, I gave birth to my daughter Freddie, who was born an aunt. They are like brother and sister and they have brought more happiness into my life than anything or anyone else, other than my son Christopher.

My first piece of luck, in my writing career, was finding Darley Anderson, my agent. He has been a constant throughout the last ten years and he has not only masterminded my career, but me as well - when I needed it! He is such a good friend and also godfather to my little daughter Freddie Mary. I want to thank him now for everything he has done for me, and for the friendship he and his partner Adele have shown me over the years. It has been a privilege to know them both and I thank God every day for that phone call I made one sunny. Thursday evening. It was a life-changing moment, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Martin Booth, who was at the BBC, gave me my first break in the writing field and, along with Darley, he gave me the confidence I so desperately needed to turn a hobby into a career. Thank you once again.

Sue Fletcher, my first editor, also inspired me to write and to believe in myself as a bona ride author. I am proud to say that she was instrumental in my life and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for all the care and advice she has given me over the years.

I have been lucky enough to see Dangerous Lady and The Jump made into TV drama series, and there are others in the pipeline. What a wonderful day it was, watching my characters come to life through Lavinia Warner of Warner Sisters. Lavinia has been a true friend over the years and is the woman who introduced me to PJ’s in Covent Garden!

It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, of course. I was very ill for a while and I got divorced. But what kept me going was knowing how lucky I was to be doing something I loved and to be getting paid for it! For so many years before Dangerous Lady was first published, I wrote for nothing. Night after night, I would sit in my little council flat, putting my thoughts on paper, writing what I liked to read. Luckily, others felt the same and wanted to read it too!

I have tried to make each book different, even though the criminal theme runs through them all. Owing to the content of Two Women, I am now the Patron of Chelmsford Women’s Aid. It is an honour I was pleased to accept, and a cause that I fervently believe in. Women come to me at signings who are from local refuges and they tell me how much they enjoy my books and I feel so sad for them and their plight. The sorry thing is that we need these refuges at all in the twenty-first century, but we do and they need as many donations as possible.

I have also become involved in prison workshops, teaching creative writing to inmates. There is a lot of talent around and I have been lucky, once more, to be part of finding it and, hopefully, developing it.

I have made so many new friends as well, not least Lynda Page, Lesley Pearse and Gilda O’Neill. I have wonderful publishers, especially Clare Foss and Martin Neild, who have helped me enormously and I appreciate them very much. (Also Amanda Ridout has always been so good to me.) I also want to say a thank you to Louise Page, my publicist, who has been a friend and a shoulder to lean on over the last few years. We have travelled the length and breadth of the country together and have had some laughs along the way.

But my main luck has been with my readers. I have met thousands of you over the years (especially on Romford Market!) and anyone who is with me always remarks on what lovely people you are. In bookshops, staff are amazed at the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone involved. I still write my books for me and, in doing so, I hope I am writing for the people who bother to pick them up, take them home and read them. So, the biggest thank you over the last ten years, is to all the people reading this book and, I hope, enjoying it. I have just finished writing the sequel to Dangerous Lady, it is called Maura’s Game and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I would also like to thank all the people who have helped me with research over the years. You know who you are. Through you I have been able to put realism into the stories. So a big thanks once more, especially to Graham P. who has been such a star and a good friend since we were kids.

My only regret is that my parents died when I was in my early twenties and therefore never saw my books published. My mother would have loved it. Her daughter Martina, an unmarried mother at eighteen, now a published writer. She worried about me so desperately (although I never realised just how much until my own son grew up) and she would have enjoyed my success even more than I have. But I know that wherever they are, they can see me and their new granddaughter and great-grandson. They watch over us and, at the end of the day, that has to be enough.

There is an old saying - you get the life you deserve. Well, I think that’s half true - you get the life you work for. Then when all the worries are out of the way and the kids are grown up, then, and only then, do you get the life you deserve. And, let’s face it, we all deserve the best we can get.

I wish you all peace and happiness.

Good luck and take care. Martina Cole August 2002 Book One LONDON, NOTTING HILL If possible honestly, if not, ‘

somehow,

make money - Horace, 65-8 BE Am I my brother’s keeper? - Genesis, iv, 9

Chapter One

1950

‘You took your bloody time!’

Dr Martin O’Reilly stared down into the child’s face and sighed.

‘I had to see another patient. Now where’s your ma?’

‘In bed, of course.’

The little boy went back to sit on the stairs with his seven brothers. They ranged in age from three to fourteen. The doctor lit a cigar. He stood in the hallway puffing on it for a few seconds to make sure it was fully alight. The smell of the Ryans en masse was enough to turn the strongest of stomachs, though the slum stench was in his blood now, he reckoned. It permeated his clothes and skin. He started to pick his way up the stairs, careful not to tread on any little fingers. The children shuffled left and right on their bottoms to let him pass. He was also careful not to touch the wall. The smell he could combat with his cigar, but the roaches - he would never get used to them. How the buggers ran up the walls he would never know. They defied gravity.

On the landing he pushed open the first bedroom door, and there in front of him was Sarah Ryan. She was lying on a large double bed, her belly huge and swollen. He smiled at her, his heart breaking. Sarah Ryan was thirty-four years old. Her faded blonde hair was scraped back from her face into a bun, her skin was pale and dry. If her eyes had not been so bright and alert, she could have been mistaken for a corpse. He could remember coming to this house fifteen years earlier to deliver her first child. A fine-looking woman she had been then. Now her body was fat and scarred from constant childbearing, and her face wrinkled prematurely from habitual frowning.

‘It’s well on then?’ His voice was gentle.

Sarah tried to hitch herself up in the bed. The old newspapers that had been placed underneath her crackled at the movement. ‘Yeah. It’s good of you to come, Martin. I told the little sods to get their dad, but as usual he ain’t nowhere to be seen.’

She gripped her belly as another pain shot through her. ‘Oh, it’s dying to be born this one.’ She smiled faindy. Then her eyes stretched wide as she saw the doctor take a syringe out of his bag.

‘You ain’t sticking that thing in me! We had all this out the last time. I ain’t having any bloody injections. This is me thirteenth child and I never had one with any of them. Not even the stillborns. I ain’t starting now.’

‘Come on, Sarah. This will ease you.’

She put up her hand to stem his protests. ‘I’m sorry but them things hurt like hell, whereas giving birth … it’s nothing. Nothing …’

Martin put the needle on the small bedside table and, sighing heavily, pulled back the blankets covering her legs. His expert hands felt around her sides and then he slipped two fingers inside her vagina. When he had finished he pulled the blankets back over her.

‘I think this one’s breech.’

Sarah shrugged.

‘First one if it is. I ain’t done so bad. Ben was saying the

other day that soon they would drop out as I walked down to the shops!’

She laughed and the doctor laughed with her.

‘That would do me out of a job. Now you relax for a minute, I won’t be long. I want one of the boys to run an errand for me.’ He left the room, shutting the door quietly behind him.

‘She had it then?’ This from eight-year-old Leslie who had let him in earlier.

‘No, she hasn’t had it yet. Be patient, you young bugger.’

The doctor turned to the eldest boy, Michael. At nearly fifteen he was already over six feet tall and towered over the little Irish doctor in front of him.

‘Michael, go and get old Mother Jenkins. I’m going to need help with this one.’

The boy stared down at the doctor for a few seconds. The muwer’s gonna be all right, ain’t she?’ His voice was deep and concerned.

BOOK: Dangerous Lady
12.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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