The Betrayer - Kimberley Chambers

MAUREEN Hutton s life has never been easy. Married to an alcoholic who then walks out, stuck on a poverty-stricken housing estate in the East End, scrimping and saving to bring up her three children alone. Over four decades she sticks by her family, as he

MAUREEN Hutton's life has never been easy. Married to an alcoholic who then walks out, stuck on a poverty-stricken housing estate in the East End, scrimping and saving to bring up her three children alone.

Over four decades she sticks by her family, as her cocky eldest son is jailed for murder, her brutal daughter becomes a drug-addled single mother, and her mother-in-law grows old disgracefully, stealing at every opportunity.

But then the unforgivable happens. Maureen is told a terrible secret which threatens to rip the family apart and destroy her beloved youngest son.

The Betrayer (�12.99, Preface) is Romford author Kimberley Chambers' third novel. And it's her best.

It deals with similar subjects to her previous two, Billie Jo and Born Evil - tough east London women struggling to bring up their children well against a backdrop of crime, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and vicious men. Again there are plenty of references to Ilford, Romford, Barking and Dagenham and Manor Park.

Chambers has been likened to queen of the east London gangland thriller, Martina Cole, and she is clearly growing into the role. She writes about an area of the capital and its inhabitants she knows well. Her characters are well-drawn and believable and she has come up with a gripping family drama full of suspense and the convincing swearing and violence we have come to expect from her.

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We root for Maureen even though we know, from the very beginning, that she is destined to die of cancer. We fall in love with her good son, James and his girlfriend Maria, pray for rotten Tommy to get his comeuppance and we laugh out loud at the antics of hilarious mum-in-law Ethel.

- LINDSAY JONES

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