Zenka by Alison Brodie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vell, vat vas a lot ov vun! Or, in non-Zenka style, that was a lot of fun!
Zenka is a Hungarian pole dancer and she works at a club owned by Cockney gangster Jack Murray. Now, it turns out that Jack has a son he’s desperate to get to know, to be a father to, and Zenka is going to help him with this rather unconventional mission.
She’s going to befriend Nicholas, Jacks long lost son, possibly seduce him in the process, and get him toughened up to be the son of a gangster. A man to fear.
What follows is a story that had me absolutely creased up laughing many, many times. To describe the setting, characters and plot, I would say it was reminiscent of something along the lines of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Zenka is a kind hearted, sassy woman and she does her best to get father and son reunited, but it’s not going to be easy. And, oh blimey, she has some pretty crazy ideas!
Nicholas can’t believe his luck when Zenka enters into his life, a life that has changed dramatically since he came home and discovered his flat had been vandalised.
Alison Brodie has written a super funny and touching story about the perils of crime, a families past, and how not to dispose of a corpse or two. I’m finding it tricky to give this book a one genre slot, it is predominantly a crime thriller, but it has romance and gritty British humour in the mix too.
I loved every character in this book, they are all so very different from each other. Zenka’s voice is mainly heard in letter format every few chapters or so, her Hungarian accent being written phonetically so the reader can really hear her attempt at speaking English. This took a bit of getting used to, but after a few chapters, it vorked incredibly vell.
Jack is a typical Cockney gangster who’s use of rhyming slang and ‘wide-boy’ attitude made him likeable but I was initially wary of him. He’s a hard man, but as the story progresses, his softer side emerges as his history is revealed and I really warmed to him.
The best thing about this book for me, was the relationship between Nicholas and his flat mate Jason. These two had me in stitches with their hilarious bickering and witty one-liners. When things start to get REALLY complicated, and these two find themselves in the middle of something they shouldn’t be, the authors choice of dialogue and the character reaction was superb. At one point I literally had tears rolling down my cheeks because the whole scenario was so hysterical! It just tickled me pink!
This read ticked many a box for me, it had a few violent and aggressive scenes, balanced out by a clever storyline with a few plot twists along the way, a little touch of romance, and a lot of laugh out loud moments. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I’d like to read more by Ms Brodie.
My only complaint is I’m not a big fan of the cover art. The author has told me she’s going to be changing it soon, which I’m glad for because I’m not keen on seeing a characters clear photo/picture on a book cover. I want to visualise how they look in my own way and not have a face already given to me from the start. Characters, for me, kind of materialise as I’m reading about them. Chapter by chapter a characters features start to form in my minds eye, and usually by about half way, I’ve established what they look like. But apart from that minor moan, I thought Zenka was a hoot!
I’d like to thank Alison Brodie for sending me an electronic copy of this to read in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure.
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