Queen of Clubs (Queen of Thieves, 2)

Written by Beezy Marsh
Review by Fiona Alison

Queen of Clubs, set in 1957, follows Queen of Thieves (2021) some ten years on. Alice Diamond, the erstwhile Queen of Thieves, has gone to ground, and not been seen for a decade. Meanwhile Nell Kane, who outplayed Alice in the previous book, has risen to the top of her game. A singer and dancer in her own right, she is now the proud owner of Rubies, and known as the Queen of Clubs. Sidekick Jimmy (the Razor) Feeney is by her side, doting on their daughter, Ruby.

Zoe comes from a Limehouse slum, but was taught to speak ‘proper English’ by a teacher when her useless mother sent her off during the Blitz. Her raggedy look doesn’t sync at all with what comes out of her mouth. Her beauty draws the attention of Maud, who ‘dresses her up nice’ and sends her on a mission: get work as a dancer at Rubies, catch Jimmy’s eye, and rattle Nell Kane’s comfortable security.

The characters are a diverting lot here, and their antics enough to keep anyone entertained; however, so frequent are the reversals of fortune that I had a hard time sustaining my interest. Marsh understandably sets a highly feminist tone, which seems to draw a cast of less-than-stellar men into the picture, and the back-stabbing and one-upmanship become tiresome. Many of the thieving scenes feel like a rehash of the last book, and are repetitive even within this one. Besides, just how many ways are there to stuff furs down your knickers! The major theme is a plot-spoiler, so shall remain unmentioned, but I had looked forward to a book which wasn’t quite the adventure I had expected.