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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Queens of London by Heather Webb

Queens of London is fascinating historical fiction that explores the gritty underbelly of post-World War I London through the points of view of Diamond Annie, head of an all-woman gang, and the female police inspector determined to arrest her.


In post-World War I London, female lawlessness in the form of the Forty Elephants gang of women, an offshoot of the Elephant and Castle men's gang, butts up against law enforcement, which only recently includes women officers.

It's 1925, and Diamond Annie is running a ruthless, savvy, gritty, loyal ring of female thieves and cons, and her significant ambition means she's dreaming of bigger and more wide-ranging success.

But one of Britain's first female police officers, Lilian Wyles, is underestimated, dismissed, disrespected--and desperate to prove her excellent mettle as an investigator by taking down Annie's gang.

When the two aspiring women's bids for victory clash, traditional female roles and power structures are shaken to their cores.

I loved the girl power, historical detail, and the intersecting storylines.

This is immensely readable historical fiction. I wish we had spent more time with Lilian in her role as a police officer, as the story skews heavily toward the (great) Forty Elephants gang and its exploits.

If you like for the good guys to be rewarded and for the bad guys to face justice, stay tuned for the last 35 pages or so of this book. The wrap-up of each the storylines was laid out almost distractingly cleanly and without loose ends, with happy endings for favored characters on the right side of the law and punishment falling to lawbreakers.

The Author's Note is fascinating, regarding Webb's research and the origins of fascination with the stories she presents here.

I can't wait for what I hope is the inevitable movie or series version of this book!

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Heather Webb is also the author of Strangers in the Night, The Next Ship Home, and other novels.

You can click here to find more Bossy reviews of books set in and around World War I.



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