Sunday, February 25, 2024

Book Review: The Queens of London, by Heather Webb

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Lilian angled her body away from people rushing through the hallways of the police headquarters. They were all men, some of whom still stared at her as if she were a circus animal even after seven years on the force. Others gave her openly hostile glares or insulted her. Much as she liked being a part of Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police, she didn’t particularly enjoy the persisting derision. She couldn’t avoid it that day; she’d been told to meet with the chief. He’d said there was an important case to which he wanted to assign her. She couldn’t imagine what it was, but she was breathless with excitement at the thought.

She rapped decisively on his office door.

“Come in!” the chief barked.

“You wanted to see me, sir,” she said, stepping inside.

Diamond Annie and Officer Lilian Wyles were each powerful women in London, but Hira wasn’t sure how much she wanted to do with either one of them.

Official synopsis:

Book Review: The Queens of London, by Heather Webb
1925. London. When Alice Diamond, AKA "Diamond Annie," is elected the Queen of the Forty Elephants, she's determined to take the all-girl gang to new heights. She's ambitious, tough as nails, and a brilliant mastermind, with a plan to create a dynasty the likes of which no one has ever seen. Alice demands absolute loyalty from her "family"―it's how she's always kept the cops in line. Too bad she's now the target for one of Britain's first female policewomen.

Officer Lilian Wyles isn't merely one of the first female detectives at Scotland Yard, she's one of the best detectives on the force. Even so, she'll have to win a big score to prove herself, to break free from the "women's work" she's been assigned. When she hears about the large-scale heist in the works to fund Alice's new dynasty, she realizes she has the chance she's been looking for―and the added bonus of putting Diamond Annie out of business permanently.

When Hira runs away from her uncle’s house, she isn’t sure where she’ll go, but she knows if she stays she’ll be sent to a boarding house and school for orphans. Nothing in her coddled life so far has readied her for that. While she hasn’t been able to live with her parents in India, her uncle has taken care of keeping a roof over her head, good food on the table, and competent servants, governess and tutors. Now that her parents have died, her uncle has decided his responsibility is over.

Hira is soon a pawn in a much bigger game. Diamond Annie is grooming her to be a great thief in her organization, and at the same time Officer Wiles wants to catch Diamond Annie and help Hira choose a life that isn’t funded by crime. Between these three strong characters and a charming shopgirl who witnesses some of it and wants a happy ending for herself and everyone else, the perspectives of London in 1925 are quite varied.

The author’s research shines through in this historical fiction and what results is a great and engaging story. The book earned 4 out of 5 stars and would be recommended for those who enjoy stories from the early 1900s, London, and compelling characters with very different motivations.

{click here to purchase via Amazon Affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a book reviewer and blogger, Instagram-er, and TikTok-er from Michigan who goes by SweetlyBSquared.


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