Published 20th November 2014 by Pan Macmillan
Set in London and Essex, The Informant is a story of ruthless criminals, corrupt cops, obsessive love and the villainy that operates on both sides of the law. As a drug-fuelled teenage tearaway, Kaz Phelps took the rap for her little brother Joey over a bungled armed robbery and went to jail. Six years later she’s released on licence. Clean and sober, and driven by a secret passion for her lawyer, Helen, Kaz wants to escape the violence and abuse of her Essex gangster family. Joey is a charming, calculating and cold psychopath. He worships the ground Kaz walks on and he’s desperate to get her back in the family firm. All Kaz wants is a fresh start and to put the past behind her. When Joey murders an undercover cop, DS Nicci Armstrong is determined to put him behind bars. What she doesn’t realize is that her efforts are being sabotaged by one of their own and the Met is being challenged at the highest level. The final test for Kaz comes when her cousin, Sean, gets out of jail. He is a vicious, old-school thug and wants to show Kaz who is boss. Kaz may be tough enough to face down any man, but is she strong enough to turn her back on her family and go straight?
This is the first novel by successful screen writer, Susan Wilkins. Wilkins takes on the criminal underworld in London and makes it her own.
Kaz is released from jail, having served time for a crime committed by her brother. Kaz finds herself back in her criminal family, but this time she has changed. She is free from drugs and has her own vision of the future. She wants to go to college and study art. She no longer wants to be a part of the drugs and criminality, that have existed around her. Encouraged by her solicitor Helen, whom she has a romantic interest, Kaz joins an art group.
Her family is not ready to let her go. Kaz finds the police piling on the pressure, and her psychotic brother Joey pressing her to join him in criminal activity, as well as cousin Sean bringing his own brand of danger. Suddenly things are happening to Kaz, that could land her back behind bars.
What I loved about this book was Kaz. I usually find myself reading this kind of gritty gangster genre completely frustrated by the disempowering stereotypical portrayal of women. Typically women are appendages to men, or become victims, like prostituting themselves during hard times. In Kaz, I felt that a woman from this kind of hidden crime world was given a fully rounded character and a normal kind of aspiration. Kaz was looking to education for her future away from organised crime and I was cheering.
An exciting plot line, a wonderful lead in Kaz and skilful writing. This is a writer to look out for. Recommended.