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The Crack Magazine

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Book of the Month: Shrines of Gaeity by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has firmly established herself as one of the most popular novelists in the UK and with little wonder. She nabbed the Costa Book of the Year with her debut novel ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’, and her crime thrillers (featuring former detective Jackson Brodie) are among the most entertaining around. Her latest is a stand-alone novel, set in and around Soho. It’s 1926 and the UK has begun to shed the dead weight of the Great War – exemplified by the glamorous clubs that have sprung up in the capital, many of which are controlled by ruthless matriarch Nellie Coker. The action begins with Nellie being released from a stint in jail (she, like many of the characters presented here, operate on the very fringes of the law). She’s greeted at the gates by her children, who are of varying degrees of competency. It soon transpires that Nellie’s empire is under threat and she must act. Atkinson is a master at revealing character and she’s roped in a fine roster here including coppers (straight-as-die coppers, bent coppers, and everything else in-between coppers), runaways, showgirls, gangsters, salt of the earth types, pick-pockets, foreign dignitaries, sex workers, Bright Young Things, back street abortionists, and plenty more besides. Atkinson also knows how to keep a plot moving, and how to spring a well-judged rug-pull, and I wolfed down her latest with no little relish. RM

Published by Doubleday

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