“Being a thief wasn’t the career I had in mind when I was growing up but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never know the way your life is going to turn out.”Queen of Thieves, by Beezy Marsh
I’m delighted to join the Blog Tour for “Queen of Thieves” by Beezy Marsh. Many thanks to NetGalley, the publishers Orion Dash, and of course the author for organising the tour and gifting me an ebook copy.
In “Queen of Thieves”, by Beezy Marsh, World War II is over, and life is supposed to be getting better. But for the poor of London life is as bad as it was during the war years; everyday essentials like food and clothes are still rationed, luxuries are unheard of, and fathers, husbands and boyfriends have returned changed from the things they have seen.
For slum girl Nell, things are about to get even worse – she’s pregnant, and the father is nowhere to be found. Drowning her sorrows one evening, she meets the glamorous Alice Diamond, self-styled Queen of the Forty Thieves – an all-female gang making the most of their skills for thievery, or hoisting as they prefer to call it, in London’s West End. When Alice offers to take Nell under her wing, she jumps at the chance to get away from her factory job and make a life for herself on her own terms – after all, “…what with the prices of things in the shops these days, it’s hard to say who’s robbing who when you pay for things at the till.”
But before long, things go badly wrong for Nell, and she finds herself caught up in a conflict between Alice and rival gang leader the King of Soho. And Nell has a new target of her own – the Queen of Thieves crown for herself.
Although I’ve seen several series and films set in the immediate post-war period in London, I’ve tended not to read many novels set then – in fact, I’m more likely to read almost anything else; earlier historical, inter-war, contemporary or futuristic! But having read this, it’s certainly a period I’ll look out for more in the future, as it provided a fascinating setting for the struggles the characters were contending with.
Something I particularly liked about this book is that the characters are not black and white; our ‘heroine’ Nell certainly makes some questionable decisions, and her target for revenge, the mighty Alice Diamond, has had her fair share of trauma in the past. Both women are actually very similar; making what they can of their circumstances in the best way they know how. This is very much a book about women and their relationships with one another, and the lengths they’re pushed to in order to keep some sort of control of their lives. I found this a great read about a community I’ve not read about before – it plunged me into the heart of gangland London in the ’40s amidst some really memorable characters. I look forward to more books in this series in the future, as I’m sure these characters have many more stories to tell.
Published: 22nd August 2021
About the author
Beezy Marsh is a top ten Sunday Times bestselling author, who has also held the coveted No.1 slot in Canada for three months. She puts family and relationships at the heart of her writing. She is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Beezy is married with two sons, and lives in Oxfordshire.