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The Mitchells & O Hara’s Trilogy

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The Mitchells & O Hara’s Trilogy by Kimberley Chambers

 

This is a trilogy of stories which follows the feud of two families and their mutual hatred for each other over a number of years and how that feud gets passed on from one generation to the next. The story is overflowing with sometimes over the top stereotypes and there aren’t many characters in this story who are particularly likeable in any way. In fact the whole story itself is a stereotype, and so as such, for me personally, on paper it should be rubbish… but to begin with it wasn’t, it was oddly compelling, at times very funny and others quite shocking.  Some of the characters are so absurd you can’t help but be drawn in to discover what they are going to do next, but as the books progressed the quality of the writing deteriorated to such an extent that what was once compelling became just irritating and in some parts ridiculous.

 

On one side you have the Mitchells an underworld gangland family ruled by Harry Mitchell and his three sons Ronnie, Paulie and Eddie, Harry has morals, slightly skewed morals as he thinks nothing of killing someone in cold blood but at the same time he looks after those around him.  Paulie is a yes man he does as he is told but he's not the brightest spark and he follows orders, Ronnie is a complete moron and a loose canon. Eddie despite being the youngest of the three appears to be the one who Harry favours as being the smart one.  Then on the other is the O’Hara family a family of English Travellers who arrive on the scene, led by their patriarch Butch O Hara. The bad blood centres around an incident between Butch’s middle son Jimmy O’Hara and Harry’s son Eddie Mitchell.

 

Book 1 – The Feud

The Feud starts in the summer of 1970 and The O Hara family have arrived in London and are muscling in on the Mitchells who run protection rackets and other less than legal businesses and during an altercation in the pub where the Mitchells are sending the O’Hara’s a warning to back off, Eddie Mitchell gets his face slashed by Jimmy O’Hara.  After this, Butch and Harry come to an agreement that the O’Hara’s will leave the area to stop any further escalation of the violence but a year down the line Butch’s sons return and start to cause trouble once more on Mitchell turf, this culminates in Harry shooting and wounding Butch in the foot for breaking the deal that they made.  Despite the fact he has been wounded Butch orders his family not to retaliate to avoid a bloodbath.  They agree but tensions, resentment and anger simmer under the surface.

 

The story then shifts to Eddie, Harry’s youngest son who at 30 takes up with Jessica a naive 17 year old. He falls in love with her and to keep her he purposely gets her pregnant and then marries her and she has his twins (a boy and a girl) and their story becomes entwined with the undercurrent of the feud between the two families and also the other less than legal aspects of the Mitchell family. As the years pass there are several meetings between Jimmy O Hara and Eddie Mitchell and Jimmy always seems keen to goad Eddie.  Harry Mitchell is violently murdered and despite the O’Hara’s firm denials of involvement and cast iron alibi’s Eddie remains convinced they are involved somehow.  Eddie and Jessica’s twins grow up and we move into the early 80’s and the feud is reignited once more when the girl – Frankie Mitchell falls in love with Jimmy O Hara’s son Jed and he gets her pregnant which has jaw dropping shocking consequences for the Mitchell family.

 

As I previously said none of the characters are particularly likeable, Eddie Mitchell is a violent thug plain and simple, he professes that he adores his wife Jessica which you can see to some extent he does, but he also manipulates and tries to control her and he does have a very dark side when he has been drinking, and she is a complete drip who you want to shake but then you do have remember that this is set in the 1970s when attitudes to what was acceptable in family life were very different, but I will say the feel of it the attitudes and the whole gangland theme it feels as though the story is set much further back in the 60’s rather than the 70’s.  Jessica’s parents are just absurd, her mother - Joyce is a shallow, materialistic, brainless woman who is trapped in a loveless marriage with Stanley a less than dynamic man, and through her resentment for being persuaded to marry a man she didn’t love by her own parents she totally dominates him and is quite cruel to him. She is also immediately taken in by Eddie and she is blinded by his charm, charisma and wealth and encourages the relationship with Jessica practically throwing her young daughter at him. Stanley is about the most likable person in the story, he can see Eddie for what he is and tries to warn Jessica but he is a weak man and years of being stamped on by his wife have taken its toll. The twins Frankie and Joey are completely self-centred brats, although you do have an element of sympathy for Joey who is gay and who spends his life in fear of his macho father Eddie finding this out.

 

The story appears to be completely over the top, but when you compare it to real life stories of underworld London and gangland killings you think maybe it’s not so outlandish after all.  It is complex as there are moments of humour which do make you laugh out loud but equally there are also moments where your jaw is literally hanging open and it riveted me enough to pull an all nighter to find out what happened.

 

Book 2: The Traitor

The Traitor starts off where the first book ended and from the start it has a totally different feel to it, it is written in a different way.  The first book felt solid and although you moved from character to character significant parts were dedicated to that particular character, this is different, it flits about offering only a paragraph to each character what they are all doing at a particular time, it doesn’t flow and it feels disjointed and you are on edge all the while not totally able to get into it as the character being talked about keeps changing and moving on to someone else and what they are doing and whilst that makes it quite hard to read I think that was the authors intention, you see, at the end of the first book the Mitchell family which was a solid force and dependable throughout becomes broken and disjointed after Eddie Mitchell does something horrifyingly bad, and all its members scatter and they are left confused and on edge as they have no idea what their future holds or what is going to happen next. I was hoping the third book would go back to how the first book was written as I wasn’t as enraptured by this book as I was the first, that one completely blew me away, but this one felt a little forced at times and the big incident felt a bit contrived and towards the end I found myself skimming pages rather than reading them just to finish it.

 

Book 3: The Victim

The Victim starts where The Traitor ended and once again it had that same disjointed feel to it, and I was now at the point where certain characters were annoying me as they are so caricatured and stereotypical and when I was reading parts about them I found myself skipping and skimming to move on to the bits I did want to read about which were essential to the main story.  I don’t know whether it is me or not but the strong writing, and the depth and the humour of the first book had totally gone now and I found it to be quite flat and uninspiring and quite frankly a chore to read for the most part. It was only my stubbornness at never giving up on a book that kept me going. About ¾ of the way through the book there is another time jump and then the story just ended, there was no conclusion it just stopped as there was this final massive showdown between Eddie Mitchell (now in his late 50’s/early 60’s) and his family and Jimmy and Jed O’ Hara and then the story just finished with no real conclusion to the multitude of questions that showdown had produced and believe me there were many so that was a massive let down and I was really disappointed how it all turned out considering  how much potential that this story had to be totally sensational after how good the first book was.

 

So, in conclusion would I recommend it, well probably not as the disappointment increased with each installment and in the end you are left with questions as to how the story did finally conclude but equally you don't really care and considering how good the first book was I think that was a real shame.

Edited by Apple

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