Source: Review copy
Publication: 7th February 2019 from Corvus
Please don’t let me die. Please don’t.
When a teenage boy steps out of the shadows of Gallowstree Lane and asks a passer-by for help, it’s already too late. His life is bleeding out on the London street.
The murder threatens to derail Operation Perseus, a cover police investigation into the Eardsley Bluds, an organised criminal network. Detective Kieran Shaw can’t and won’t allow that to happen. But fifteen-year-old Ryan has other ideas. He’s witnessed the death of his best friend, and now he wants someone to pay…
As loyalties collide, a chain of events is triggered that threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane.
I haven’t read the first two books in this series, but that did not in any way impact on my enjoyment of Gallowstree Lane, the third in the Collins and Griffiths series.
It is clear right from the beginning that Kate London knows what she is talking about. This is a book that rings clear with the sounds of authenticity, as you might expect from an ex Met police officer.
Knife crime is one of those heart-breaking crimes that is not only devastating in its destructive ability, but also a symptom of society’s ills and a symptom that shows no signs of ever having a cure.
Knife crime goes hand in hand with drug culture and street gangs; it is hard to know how to combat it and heaven knows, my heart goes out to those who are tasked with the job of policing the streets amidst this relentless destruction. Kate London depicts this scenario very well, layering the crimes with deftly created characters in what feels like very real situations. On top of this, she adds an additional police dilemma – when there is a bigger picture – a police operation that could help solve a larger problem-is it ever right to prioritise an operation over the devastation caused to a family by a cold blooded murder?
15 year old Spencer Cardoso is stabbed in the street as his friend Ryan watches, paralysed by fear. As Spencer lies dying, Ryan runs away, after first calling an ambulance on the phone of a passing paramedic; a phone that he ditches as he runs.
Spencer and Ryan are both gang members and this stabbing is the result of a turf war. As we follow Ryan, we come to understand why this murder happened, learn about the principal characters and understand the consequences of this action.
DI Sarah Collins is determined to find Ryan’s killer and she enlists the help of D.C. Lizzie Griffiths, who is interested in Ryan because of another assault case she has on her books. The only problem is that Lizzie has been newly seconded to an undercover police operation, code name Perseus, being run by D.I. Kieran Shaw, which has been ongoing for more than two years and is focussed on bringing down gun running in the city.
Lizzie has information that could be useful to Sarah, but the operation could be compromised if she discloses it. What will she do?
London’s writing is tight and her plotting exemplary. She creates just the right mix of character driven personalities and plot driven action to give the reader a strong sense of what it means to belong both to the wider police family and the opposing gang family. Loyalty is the recurring theme here and it is a compelling one.
Kate London gives us sufficient backstory to understand her characters and the result is a gritty and propulsive novel that is both horrifying and all too real, yet sprinkled with humour and laced with compassion.
Verdict: A tight and authentic police procedural where the authenticity tightens a chilling and heart-breaking read.
Kate London graduated from Cambridge University and moved to Paris where she trained in theatre. In 2006 Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on SC&O1 – the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She resigned from the MPS in August 2014. Her debut novel Post Mortem was published by Corvus in 2015.