The Trap by Kimberley Chambers, is the first book in a hard-hitting series about murder, treachery and the kings of East London underworld, the Butlers. The Butlers play dirty and are a family highly feared within their own community. No one it seems can bring them down, until things start to unravel when one bloody night leads to a path of desperate vengeance.
Vinnie and Roy Butler are the apple of their mum’s eye. Queenie knows they can play dirty but when it comes to family, the lads look after business and make her proud. Nothing gets in the way of family ties, but Vinnie, the eldest son, is the ultimate creation of damaged goods, and one way or another, everyone who crosses his path will ultimately pay some kind of price.
The Trap is Kimberley Chambers eighth novel. An author who has been described as easily as good as Martina Cole by the News of the World, and this is undoubtedly a gritty, entertaining and fast paced tale, one that will have you turn page after page well into the early hours of the morning.
Kimberly Chambers has done many jobs in her life, not least of which was, a disc jockey, a cabbie, and a street trader. Having read The Trap, none of these jobs surprise me. Even though prior to her writing journey, Chambers may well have wondered how these career paths would lead her to ultimately writing gritty and authentic fiction, her narrative fills the page with such life and energy, that very little about her tone and characters jars the reader. Those years of listening and observing have not gone to waste, they sing through her story, making the endeavor of eavesdropping, if you don’t happen to be a cabbie, a disc jockey or a street trader, one for all writers to take on board.
In many ways The Trap reminded me of a brilliant soap opera, and with 500+ pages, you get a lot of story for your buck, and one could easily see this as a televised drama series.
Having grown up in less than lucrative beginnings myself, and despite Dublin being very different to the East End of London, I found many parallels to people I remembered from childhood. The characters simply lift off the page in this novel. The strong family ties, often delivered with a hard hand, the warped sense of justice, the black humour, the blatant contradictions, love interwoven with hate, fear side by side with innocence and ignorance, naivety, greed, all unraveling deliciously with Queenie Butler, as the matriarch, her sister Vivien the icing on the cake, and evil son Vinnie, your worth nightmare.
The novel opens in the mid-sixties, working its way to the summer of 1976, laced with music, fashion and cultural references, which give a good background for the story unfolding.
There were some elements of the novel that I would have issue with, parts of the dialogue were excessively lengthy, and far too many, ‘he said, she said, he lied’ etc. I was particularly perturbed by the killing off a character I was quite fond of in less than four lines, and other elements I would have questioned, but overall, it’s a mighty entertaining read, the negatives almost brushed aside by the sum of the parts, Chambers delivering in turn page style, and that’s folks is good enough for me.