The Girl with the Treasure Chest by Veronica Fearon
Veronica Fearon’s first novel is a gritty tale of life in gangland London, with hot sex, violent confrontations, and the throb of realism.
Dani is a player. With a background in youth work, a hardcore posse, and an attitude as big as Mount Everest, she is unstoppable. She spends her time negotiating gangland disputes and facilitating deals in London’s vicious underground. Publicly she is cool and always in control, but those closest to her know she has a fiery temper. When Susanna, Dani’s on-again off-again ex, reappears, Dani is thrown into a tailspin. Unable to control her fears, her wild behavior puts everybody in danger and threatens to destroy everything she has worked for.
This is a gritty tale of love, loyalty, and survival in the Projects and the gangs that inhabit them. The tone, the settings, even the voices, make this a novel very much of London.
The characters are very real, and their behavior and interactions are instantly recognizable. Even the internal monologues are something we can all identify with. Despite having never personally experienced the gangs and ghettos this story inhabits, we can all remember back to our teenage days when the boys ‘on the make’ strutted among us, posing and pushing to establish themselves.
The interaction between Dani and her soldiers creates an interesting dynamic. To have a Boi leading such a gang creates an extra layer of tension – not only does Dani have to constantly ‘top’ her environment, she has to do it without the physical power to personally enforce her wishes. Her management and manipulation of the gang members she is trying to control is masterful and shows a deep understanding of the psychology of young men.
As a delightful counterpoint to all the darkness we have Dani’s obvious affection for Charlie and Mr. Goldenberg, her elderly tailor. We see the softer side of her soldiers when they are off duty with their women. And most of all we see how Dani’s obsessive and blind adoration of Susanna defeats all her self-control, all her native intelligence, and brings out a fierce, almost animalistic, need to own and protect.
This novel is a long way from the happy WASP romances of many other LesFic authors, whose characters would not survive two minutes in this environment. It is a harsh and aggressive world, but one interspersed with moments of humor and lightness. The Girl with the Treasure Chest is well written and well executed, and I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.