A powerful, darkly comic novel set in the criminal underworld of Manchester from bestselling author Marnie Riches.
The battle is on…
When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.
But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…
Thank you to Helena, from Avon Books for inviting me on the blog tour today! I have an extract from ‘Born Bad’ to share with you, enjoy!
by Marnie Riches
Resignation in Tiffany’s voice. She turned to him, treating him to a dead-eyed stare. ‘All they can do is try to shrink it. Radiothingy. They said it’s grown into his nose and around the optic nerves. He’s going blind. Doc said there’s not a surgeon in England has got the savvy to get it out. He’s shafted …’
Lev looked down at Jay and felt tears leak onto his cheeks. Imagining the tumour within his son, wrapping itself around the boy’s beautiful green eyes, suffocating the healthy tissue, eating into space that his brain should by rights fill, replacing thoughts of Postman Pat and Chuggington and whatever other shit the kid watched on CBeebies with pain. Somehow, he had failed the boy. Somehow, it was his fault. There had to be a way to make it better. His mother had always told him the Lord was merciful.
‘… Unless we can get him to the States.’ Tiffany inhaled her cigarette deeply and blew the smoke over Lev’s closely shorn hair.
A glimmer of hope. ‘You what?’
She nodded slowly. Flicked her fingernails with her thumb. ‘There’s this brain surgeon in Baltimore. The place is called John Hopkins Brain Centre or summat.’
‘Right,’ Lev said, wiping the tears from his cheeks determinedly. ‘He’s going. We’ll take him.’
‘It’s a hundred and fifty grand. Maybe more. Where you gonna find that kind of cash, smart arse? Flogging baggies of coke in town on a Saturday night? Get a grip!’
Lev’s heart, buoyed instantly by the thought of a cure that glittered with promise on the other side of the Atlantic, took a slow trip back down to the soles of his Nike Air-Max trainers. He mentally rifled through the hiding places he had for cash in the Sweeney Hall high-rise he called home. The toilet cistern contained £2,500 and a gun that was worth a few quid, wrapped up in plastic bags. There was another £1,900 at the back of the gas meter in an old Brillo box. £5,000 in a carrier bag, gaffer-taped to the underside of his wardrobe. He couldn’t even make ten grand.
‘We’ll find it,’ he said. ‘I’ll ask Tariq and Jonny for more work. Maybe I can help out as muscle. The Fish Man gets paid a mint.’
Tiffany snorted. ‘You? Muscle? Where, in your pants? That’s the only place you ever had muscle, Le-viti-carse.’
His hours spent at the gym every week were clearly lost on that cheeky, head-wiggling cow. Or maybe she was bitching because she wasn’t getting it any more. Yes, that was it. The jibe stung less when he looked at it that way. But this was no time for hurt sensibilities over the quality of his six-pack.
‘I’ll have it saved, borrowed or stolen inside six months. I promise. The full whack.’ The words came out as a half-whisper, bound for his sleeping son’s ears.
‘Six months? You are joking,’ Tiffany said, picking her cigarette dimp out of the ashtray. She put it back inside her cigarette packet, stood and grabbed the empties from the table. No trace of emotion in her indifferent face. ‘The doctor reckons he’ll be dead in three, even with radiowhatsit. We need a miracle. How about you talk to that shithouse, your mother. She’s pretty fucking friendly with God, isn’t she?’
But the words he’ll be dead in three were ringing in Lev’s ears like bad tinnitus. He looked down at Jay, frowning in his sleep. Golden downy hairs on those honeyed, rubicund cheeks. The only beautiful thing in this godforsaken hole. The only beautiful thing in Lev’s entire beleaguered existence. Lev imagined his son lifeless and stiff, his eyes, staring blankly into the abyss, the childish shine all gone. His small body, interred in the autumn-hardening ground of Agecroft Cemetery, a fancy white coffin the only cold comfort remaining at the end of a life left unlived and mourned bitterly by wailing female relatives who should have looked after the poor little bastard better. Then, he pictured himself by his son’s graveside. Wearing his only suit, normally worn for court appearances, weddings and the odd stag night. Here is the homecoming for the son of Leviticus Bell – a pure soul begat by a sinner, snatched back to heaven by an unforgiving God that expects more from his flock than petty drug-dealing, cheap sex and knife crime.
Lev allowed the darkness to engulf him. Chastised himself for being useless at a time of need. Reminded him- self that he was one of life’s fighters. Remembered that Jay still had a chance while Dr Whateverhisorhernamewas at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore existed. ‘Jesus Christ, Tiff. Our Jay can’t die. I won’t let him. I’m gonna sort this.