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Gallowstree Lane by Kate London
We think we know our friends. We think we know our family. We think we know our children.
Until one of them carries a knife… Until one of them bleeds out on a London street.’
Gallowstree Lane is the latest book from Kate London and is her third in this series featuring members of the Metropolitan police force, Sarah Collins and Lizzie Griffiths.
Just published with Corvus Books, it is described as ‘an explosive police procedural about the epidemic of gang violence in London’.
Kate London is a former murder detective, having worked with the Major Investigation Team of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command, which I feel gives this novel an edge.
Although Gallowstree Lane is the third book in this series, at no point did I feel I was missing out on anything, as, for me, all back stories were sufficiently dealt with. This is a book about the gangland warfare in London and how young people and drug users are influenced by these thugs who roam the streets, picking out vulnerable folk for their own gratification.
Ryan Kennedy and his friend Spencer Cardoso are two young teenage boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Two boys who see their only way out of the ghetto being to infiltrate themselves with a drug gang. Ryan’s father ran in the same circles and it is his father’s old friend, Shakiel, that takes Ryan under his wing, showing him the ways. Ryan introduces his friend Spence to his new world and together they set out on a path that would be short lived. A job goes wrong and Spencer is stabbed. Ryan watches his friend bleed out on the path of Gallowstree Lane and, after ensuring help is there for his friend, he runs.
Meanwhile, Detective Kieran Shaw is heading up a major two-year operation that will blow open one of the gangs that are slowly destroying these streets, the Eardsley Buds. When Shaw is made aware of the death of this young man, he immediately clamps down on how the case is handled. He is on the verge of a major coup and has no intention of letting the stabbing of a juvenile become the obstacle that will collapse his case.
Lizzie Griffiths and Sarah Collins, two members of the force, are both also involved in this case but coming at it from very different angles.
As all three collide over how Spencer’s case is handled, there is one very vulnerable and exposed fifteen-year old, who is a vital witness, roaming free and unprotected. Ryan Kennedy is angry. Ryan Kennedy is fragile. Ryan Kennedy is a loose cannon.
Gallowstree Lane is like an exposé, a behind-the-scenes look at gangland warfare. While the book focuses on the London streets, I think it’s fair to say that incidents in this book are replicated in many towns and cities across the globe. Gangs are nothing new, traditionally associated with violence, yet oft times, providing a family for the disenfranchised. Ryan is a defenseless young man, coming from an under-privileged background. He is surrounded by adults who are all claiming to know what’s best for him, what is the right thing to do. Ryan is confused and alone and he seeks vengeance for the death of his best friend.
As the conflict continues between the various sections of the force, personalities clash and voices are raised. Is it better to sacrifice a small cog in a big wheel to achieve the bigger goal?
Kate London writes from her own experiences on the force and this brings a real authenticity to the story. I felt for Ryan. I hoped for a better future for him. I began to understand Kieran Shaw and to get into the minds of Lizzie Griffiths and Sarah Collins. These people all felt quite real to me which is an absolute credit to the author.
Gallowstree Lane is a complex tale and it is one that you definitely need to keep your wits about you when reading. There are different gangs with equally despicable characters and it is important to the story to keep track of who’s who. There is quite an amount of police procedural work described within the pages, giving a very fascinating insight into the incredible work and cross coordination of departments that takes place when a case is active.
Gallowstree Lane is a very convincing and gritty account of life on the streets. It’s quite a compelling and gripping read and one I am very happy to recommend.
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.