A Gangster’s Grip by Heather Burnside – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Rita has been living in Greece, where she has been running a restaurant with her husband Yansis. She has just returned to her hometown of Manchester for a visit. On arrival at her parents’ home she finds a surly stranger ensconced on the settee, smoking marijuana. Moments later Rita discovers that her younger sister Jenny is pregnant by this man. His name is Leroy.
Rita is immediately suspicious of Leroy. Concerned for her sister’s welfare she makes enquiries about him in the local area. These enquiries only exacerbate her concerns. Soon Rita is thrust into a world of stolen goods, drugs and the omnipresent threat of gang violence. Here the divisions between victim and perpetrator are often blurred.
A Gangster’s Grip is the sequel to Slur and Part 2 in a proposed Manchester-based crime trilogy. This instalment sees the return not only of the vibrant and vivacious Rita, but also her dependable friend, the now matured protagonist of Slur, Julie. The book boasts an array of colourful and contrasting characters, including sinister Leroy and conscientious Yansis, as well as the gang-affiliated miscreant Carl and his heroin-addicted wife Debby.
Author Heather Burnside adeptly utilises pathos in this atmospheric, fast-moving, plot-driven and eminently readable crime novel, which is set in the early 90s, in what was a dark chapter in Manchester’s illustrious history.