My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - snippets on and off for 4 days
Publisher - Arrow Books
Pages - 434
Blurb from Goodreads
Based in Stepney, this book is set on a rough and ready Council Estate, in the heart of London's East End. A story that starts in 1975 ends in 2005, it tells the trials and tribulations of the Hutton family. Maureen - the gutsy mum, separated from her alcoholic husband, she scrimps and saves for years to bring up her children and instil life's good values in them. She tries her utmost, but with only moderate success. Tommy, the eldest son, does ten years for murder. On his release he promises to go straight. The trouble is that the underworld beckons and he struggles to keep his promise. Susan, the daughter, unpopular and spiteful as a child, she finally makes her family proud when she gets pregnant and moves in with her boyfriend. But what has she forgotten to tell him? James, the youngest son. Does mummy's blue-eyed boy stay on the straight and narrow? Or does he get stuck into a life of crime, just like his elder brother? Ethel - gran and mother-in-law. A wise old owl, granny could sense disaster looming all along. What a tragedy that no one would listen to her. And finally, Maria, the girl next door and the love of James's life. Will they? Won't they? Who knows - because Maria holds the biggest secret of them all. Or does she?
We open in 2006, Maureen Hutton has just had a terminal diagnosis from her consultant and is contemplating her life, this is her story! We then head to 1975 and meet her family, her sons from their youth and then spanning over a few decades to present day. She has a colourful family with crazy antics and learning to make their money on the streets of Stepney through illegal means. Her eldest sons finds himself in trouble with the law and a path is laid out for him from there on in. Her young son is her pride and joy, the first of the family to get recognized grades and she doesn't want him being involved in crime. As the brothers reunite, life on Stepney grabs hold and the brothers find themselves not as close as they once were and a secret threatens to tear them apart.
I love Kimberley Chambers books, they are gritty, harsh, laced with crime, violence and murder. The Betrayer looks at family life, loyalty, betrayal, secrets and how relationships can be formed and torn apart by love and deceit. She brings to life some of the best and ugliest characters, Tommy Junior made my skin crawl in some parts of the book & Maureen's elder mother in law, Ethel and Maureen herself are characters you won't forget.
There are some scenes in the book that some readers may find hard to read, some graphic sexual content, abuse and racism within the story. I think it adds to the believability of the story as life in poverty and surrounded by drugs, danger and crime is often filled with a darker side of humanity. She spins a fabulous tale with larger than life characters, The Betrayer will leave you wanting more and I have contacted the author and expressed the hopes a sequel will written. 4/5 for me this time, if you like a good gritty crime story this is a great place to start.