Frankie Sullivan is one of the most ruthless Geezers in London’s deadly underworld. When the women he employs to traffic diamonds refuse an order he arranges their murder and shifts his nefarious attentions to their daughters.
In a world where money talks and even arrows are crooked, fifteen-year-old Jade Flynn and three other girls are dumped in the St. Nicholas care home for children and forced to participate in Frankie’s illegal ‘special community projects.’ It takes a tragedy to lend them the courage to run.
For 10 years they stay hidden. But now The Geezer has found them and he is royally pissed. Still, he might let them live if they do one last job…
The drama launches like a bullet from a gun and rockets along for all 435 pages. Jade and her fellow musketeers spend most of those pages battling for their lives and I admit I had to put the book down a number of times while I mustered the strength to endure their latest disaster.
There is a real sense of menace from the villains. Frankie is a heartless godfather figure, ruthlessly ambitious, manipulative, his penchant for violence tempered only by clear-eyed cunning. Mitchell cleverly counterpoints him with a raft of mindless thugs, the foot soldiers who wreck havoc in the lives of our heroines.
Life in London’s underworld is so sharply observed and so seemingly authentic you can’t help but wonder about the life of this former primary school teacher (Mitchell). Her plotting is also masterful. There’s an excellent twist towards the end you just won’t see coming and the narrative is always plausible – bar the odd occasion when you wonder why the girls don’t just go to the police and turn themselves in.
It’s hard to empathise with characters when you’re grinding your teeth at their naiveté. The men in Geezer Girls are deadly and decisive, their back up plans have back up plans. The four women at the centre of the story are frustratingly passive. Frankie promises the girls that if they behave and follow orders their mothers will be safe so they fall over themselves to comply (until his promise is proved false). Ten years later he promises them freedom after one last job and again, having apparently learned nothing in the intervening time, they guilelessly follow the dotted lines. No matter how he abuses and deceives them, the four friends cannot conceive of a solution independent of him.
Maybe this is the reality of London’s underworld, maybe it’s because I’m such a fan of strong-willed females like Buffy and Steig Larsson’s Lisbeth, but Geezer Girls feels like a throwback to the 80s, when men kicked ass and women screamed and ran.
If the female characters were stronger the novel would be shorter. Which would be a shame as it’s really very good. So suspend your disbelief, suppress your inner feminist and enjoy a rollicking story.