BEHIND EVERY STRONG WOMAN, IS AN EPIC STORY…
Diamond by Jessie Keane is OUT NOW with Hodder and is described as the perfect novel ‘for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers, and lovers of ‘Peaky Blinders’…epic historical crime fiction at its most compelling.‘
Today I am joining the blog tour with Midas PR and I have an extract for you all which I do hope you enjoy.
[ About the Book ]
It’s the early 20th century, and a desperate young girl changes her name and flees the confines of her brutal, dominating gangland family in London.
Now calling herself ‘Diamond Dupree’, she goes to Paris to become an artist’s model but the world there is brutal and cutthroat and she soon falls on hard times. When she manages to escape at the end of the First World War, she leaves behind a mystery – and a dead man.
Back home in London, she reluctantly re-joins the Soho family ‘firm’ she’d once been glad to leave behind. Having grown tougher during her time in Paris, she soon becomes a force to be reckoned with; a feared and respected gangland queen. But then she meets Richard Beaumont, the youngest son of a wealthy aristocratic family, and the prospect of a different life unfolds.
But how long can Diamond avoid the long arm of the law? And will her crimes finally catch up with her?
[ Extract ]
Diamond Butcher sat in her cell and listened to the sounds going on all around her. Somewhere in the big stark echoing chill of Holloway Prison, a woman was wailing. Another was shouting and banging on the bars of her cell. Diamond made no sound. She watched a finger of daylight send a column of gold onto the cell wall and thought this can’t be happening.
But it was.
It was six o’clock in the morning, and the hangman was waiting for her because she had been convicted of murder.
Diamond’s trembling hands went to her neck. Her skin was white, her hair black, her eyes violet-blue. Black Irish they called her colouring, and it had massive appeal. Along with an eighteen-inch waist and breasts and hips that were precisely twenty inches bigger, her looks had netted her both fortune and disaster. She wondered if it would hurt, when the life left her body.
She looked down at the drab, scratchy prison garb she wore. Usually for her it was silks, laces, long pale furs and exquisite jewels. Diamonds, mostly, because she was a product of her own invention and she had learned exactly how to market her wares. It was usually diamonds, set in gold or silver, twinkling in warm candlelight while she sipped vintage champagne.
Then the cell door opened. Her hands fell to her lap.
It was the female warder, grim-faced as usual. It was always the same one. She was bringing Diamond’s breakfast.
‘Not long now,’ she said, setting it down beside her.
Not long until she hanged.
Well – it was better than the guillotine, wasn’t it?
‘You’re lucky,’ said the warder. ‘You got Tom Pierrepoint, he’s an expert at his trade. Snap your neck in a second, you won’t suffer. Not like some of ‘em, leaving you dangling there only half-dead.’
A sliver of panic was suddenly lodged in Diamond’s gut, making it clench. She looked at the dish of porridge as the warder withdrew. She knew she wouldn’t eat it. She couldn’t.
She was going to die.
This couldn’t be happening, not to her.
The present was terrifying, and the past was gone. No good thinking back, not now.
Still, she couldn’t help it – her mind once again escaped to times gone by, back to where it all began. To the days long before her rise as Diamond Dupree, the toast of Paris and the beloved of the English aristocracy, to the time when she had been Diamond Butcher, the oldest and only girl in a family of London thieves.
Diamond by Jessie Keane is out now, published by Hodder in hardback
[ Bio ]
Jessie Keane is a multi-million copy Sunday Times bestselling author. She was born in Winchester in the back of a traditional gypsy barrel topped caravan parked in her parents’ back garden. Grand, her maternal grandmother, was Romany but had settled down and lived with her parents almost like a regular ‘gorgi’ or house-dweller, although she refused to give up her van and only came indoors to use the facilities! Grand insisted Jessie be born in the van like a proper Romany, and not in the house, a fact that explains Jessie’s love of moving. She’s been in her current house for two years and already has ‘itchy’ feet. Jessie grew up living the country life, playing in the dirt with her father’s chickens, often tethered by a rope to the back of Grand’s van so she didn’t wander off too far. She was a shy child and writing was her solace and a welcome escape from her seven older brothers. She says, ‘I still love it – I practically run to the office every morning, and if I’m not writing, I very soon get irritable’. Grand had ‘The Sight’ and read the tarot (she taught Jessie how to read the cards too) and predicted Jessie would be a writer: ‘She’s got a strong writer’s fork,’ said Grand, examining the palms of her hands. ‘Two, in fact. She’s not only going to write, she’s going to be famous for it.’
Tales of feuds and bare-knuckle boxing – the roar of the crowds around the makeshift ring, the betting, the pulled punches and thrown contests – came down the family and stayed with Jessie. They inspired her novel, Fearless, an epic tale about the Flynn clan, whose menfolk are bare-knuckle fighting Romany gypsies but whose womenfolk aspire to be so much more. Jessie is very proud of her gypsy heritage – she says ‘Gypsies are strong, resilient, tough as old boots. It’s an honour to be one of them.’ Jessie had an idyllic early life, but everything began to unravel when she hit her teenage years. The family business struggled amid arguments, court cases and recriminations. Her father, who was the powerhouse of the company and the family, was then diagnosed with lung cancer. The worry caused Jessie to fail her 11+ exam and she ended up in a sink secondary school where school where she was bullied mercilessly. She left school with just one O level in English. Jessie’s father died and the family firm collapsed. Her home was seized by the banks, and she ended up living on a rough council estate with bricks coming through the windows and constant ‘posh’ taunts thrown at her in the street. Longing for a better life, Jessie fled to London. She crashed on a friend’s sofa and got a job washing dishes in a Soho restaurant. In her free time, she wandered around the capital, unable to believe that she was there. London seemed magical, another world.
In break times Jessie wandered the Soho bars and clubs in Greek Street, Old Compton Street, Dean Street, Frith Street and St Anne’s Court, and started to make friends with the people who worked there. The atmosphere in the clubs was glamorous, smoky, racy and very exciting for a quietly raised innocent from the sticks. The girls who worked the clubs seemed to have a chic worldliness that she coveted. However, Jessie became increasingly aware of the dark and dangerous underbelly of the city. Her friends were mixing with pimps, deadbeats and flashy hustlers who took her to dinner and made her extravagant (always empty) promises of fame. One of those men became her first boyfriend, a car thief who quickly got himself arrested and then sent her begging letters from prison. And then one day her best friend Joanna turned up in tears with a black eye. She knew she was walking too close to the edge. Home beckoned
and marriage to a musician. They divorced within the year and she was married again at 19.
By her mid-forties, Jessie was divorced for a second time, living in a local authority flat with an eclectic array of jobs to her name. From slicing bacon in a deli, to sweeping up in a hairdresser’s, to coiling wire in an electrical factory for 8 hours a day; she still harboured dreams of becoming an author. She changed her name, dyed her hair and started to write. Jessie began by writing ‘chick-lit’ with little success and then one day, while idly flicking TV channels, she found herself watching ‘The Krays’ movie. She started to think about what it would be like to be woman in that world and her early experiences in Soho came to mind. At the same time, she read her Tarot cards drawing ‘Double Death’; a sign that something monumental was going to happen.
Jessie wrote Dirty Game, her first novel, in just three months. She submitted it to six agents and within weeks, she had an agent and a three-book, six-figure deal. Jessie Keane, the writer, was born.
Now a Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of 16 books with sales that exceed 1.5 million copies, Jessie continues to write compelling, strong female characters who thrive despite their circumstances – just like she has.
Jessie lives in Hampshire with her partner who used to be her next-door neighbour before they fell in love.
Twitter – @realjessiekeane