Unsure what to think of this book. If it was a Mandasue Heller novel it'd probably be five star going by some of her work, but for Martina (despite recent years), you expect a lot more. When I read The Faithless I noticed three things, the short chapters, the lack of dialogue and the fact that Martina starts at least one sentence per page with 'That' e.g. 'That he knew his days were numbered', 'That she could be taken for a mug was shocking' etc. It's almost as annoying as authors using 'he/she said' rather than something more descriptive. However I did enjoy The Faithless and thought it had a good story.
The same with this book. The story was there it just wasn't very detailed. Previous Martina books have been full of detail, full of history of the characters, but this one wasn't. The short chapters, rather like James Patterson, usually end up leaving the book with a lot of white space which makes the book look bigger than it is. Even with the smallish font in the hardback this was still a shorter book than most Martina novels. Maybe she just can't be bothered to write the rich histories anymore, her books are going to sell whether they are 500 or 5000 pages long, it's just disappointing when you think about books like The Runaway, The Ladykiller, the Maura novels. Books full of history, dialogue, lots of stories in one. The Life just felt really rushed.
It was only towards the end that the story picked up and the actual ending didn't live up to the build up in my opinion. I enjoyed the book and would reccommend it to Martina fans, but people new to her work should definitely start from the beginning. The problem with her earlier work is that it's just too good and will probably never be beaten by Martina or anyone else writing similar books, the only person to have come close is one Kimberley Chambers, an absolutely fantastic author who you would be insane not to read if you enjoy these sort of books. Overall the book had an interesting mix of characters, all very believable but unlike her earlier work you never got the full picture of what they actually did, for a family that supposedly run London whilst also having every other gangland family in the UK scared of them I would have liked a bit more history of descriptions of what they did. That said there were some horrific scenes in this book but it was all quite tame compared with her earlier work.