Martina Cole’s newest novel centres around horrific and numerous murders of prostitutes. The ‘hard girls’ are being mutilated and raped, the killer seeming to have an immense hatred for how the girls live their lives and what they stand for. No clues are left behind, the scenes of the murders being thoroughly cleaned and the smell of clinical cleanliness is left hanging in the air. It’s the job of Kate Burrows and Annie Carr to find the dirt and catch this killer.
Kate Burrows is a character Martina Cole fans would know from the past. She is supposed to be retired but still consults at the Grantley Police Station. Kate cannot stay away. She lives the job, breathes the job, has a reputation in the job. Kate’s working the case with Annie Carr, both women are on the hunt for Grantley’s latest killer. Their relationship becomes strained as Kate pulls rank at work and also at home. They do work well together though and build a friendship….a friendship that is tested from time to time.
Patrick Kelly is Kate’s ‘boyfriend’ and a well known name amongst the crime scene of Grantley having dealt on the wrong side of the law for years, someone to be feared if you don’t play by his rules. He has been involved in pretty much everything but has decided to keep it clean….well cleaner than before anyway. Kate and Patrick’s relationship starts to crumble when one of the prostitutes is found murdered in a block of apartments Patrick owns. We follow Kate and Patrick’s relationship troubles throughout the book hoping they’ll hang on but do they? This is a test neither wanted to eventuate but perhaps knew in the back of their minds would eventually come their way.
Hard Girls is Martina Cole’s latest but I can’t say it’s her greatest. I love how there are strong women figures in Kate, Annie, the ‘hard girls’, various ladies involved in the crime scene, et cetera. However, it doesn’t have the same tone or hard hitting factor of Martina’s previous novels. Whilst reading Hard Girls I kept thinking it had a different edge to it and came to a conclusion that it could have been written by a handful of other authors writing in the same genre. Not that that’s a bad thing but it just didn’t feel like the Martina of old.
One thing that was present, and has been present in Martina’s books of late, is repetitiveness. Certain lines and situations are repeated throughout the novel, not always in the same words but the same gist. This can become tiresome for the reader and waters down the story a bit. There is only so many times you want to read the same thing and unfortunately it makes the reading quite monotonous.
I did enjoy reading Hard Girls but not as much as some of Martina’s previous work. It wasn’t a bad story and did keep me guessing for about three-quarters of the book but didn’t have the same appeal as say The Jump, one of my personal favourites, or Dangerous Lady, earlier novels of Martina’s. I hadn’t read a Martina Cole book for a while and it was great to be reacquainted with an old friend. I think if you’re new to Martina’s work you will enjoy Hard Girls more so than if you have followed her work right from the beginning.
All in all for me it was a quick read, a comfort read from an author of which I regularly read and will continue to read but it did lack a little oomph.
Thank you very much to Lousia from Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of Hard Girls!
To read the blurb for Hard Girls click here