Book Review: Kimberley Chambers – The Traitor (Mitchells v O’Haras book 2)

Set in the late 1980s through to 1993, ‘The Traitor’ continues the thrilling saga which began with ‘The Feud’. And not only does it manage to keep it’s predecessor’s charm and drama, it ramps it up to another level. This will contain spoilers of both book one and two. For a detailed review of ‘The Feud’, please click here:

Following the tragic events at the end of book 1, Eddie Mitchell is languishing in jail, while Frankie is languishing in a trailer park with Jed and his horrible family. Joey is stuck in the family home, which Eddie has given to Joyce as an apology for murdering her daughter. Which, barring a minor meltdown, of which Stanley’s pigeons took the brunt, she seems to be taking rather well. Indeed, the rest of the Mitchells are disastrous enough, but, for budding gangsters, Gary and Ricky are surprisingly likeable characters. They always liked Jessica, who must have actually only been around three years older than them.

Still the main story is about Frankie Mitchell, and her descent into disaster. I feel sorry for her the entire time; although, if she hadn’t gone out of her way to see Jed O’Hara, none of the ensuing carnage would have ever happened. Still, quite predictably, Jed, whom it was revealed had murdered Harry Mitchell during book one, turns out to be just as evil as we were warned. Going so far as to name your son after the mother’s granddad whom you brutally had killed, though? Somehow, that’s not the most evil thing that happens in this book…

Although the drama is slow building, we see Frankie slowly realise the extent of how awful her boyfriend has been, and takes Mitchell-style steps to both break free and take revenge. Alongside new character Kerry (Sammy’s girlfriend), they become a reluctant power duo… however, quite predictably again, it all goes wrong. And it’s both horrific to see, but brilliant to read. Can’t Frankie ever catch a break?

Neither can Eddie, who does, by the end of the book, become an antihero of sorts. Although he butchered Jessica, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, by the end you are wondering if this was the same man. By 1993, he gets out of prison, thanks to a scarcely believable sentence given to him by a surprisingly lenient jury. I’m sure there’s some sort of precedence for it, but I’ll let this little plot point slide in the interests that it makes the rest of the book a bloody good read.

He sets out trying to make amends for what he’s done. Impossible, but Joyce comes round to it, especially when he finally accepts Joey and Dominic. The scene where he visits them in their house and talks to them had me breathless. So powerfully written. I’m still convinced I support all of the characters based on how they feel about Joey, who now is the proud owner of a Chihuahua called Madonna. It was the 90s, after all. Although reduced from being a main supporting character to being recurring amongst the havoc, I will still strongly defend him. And I’m very happy that he’s in a very good place, although compared to his sister it’s been a cakewalk.

Another reason that Eddie has become more favourable is his new girlfriend, saucy PI Gina. Being one of the best characters to come out of ‘The Feud’ (out of many), I was surprised but also thrilled that she was coming back to play a big role here. The O’Haras are just as evil as before, but Alice is the worst of them all for me. Pure horror.

I must admit, the first 150 pages were tough for me to read. Jed’s disgusting behaviour towards Frankie was difficult, but I knew that the plot would continue and it would be worth it. The story really kicks in halfway through, when Eddie gets out of prison. I do feel bad for the situation he’s been left in by the end, though. In fairness to both him and Jimmy, the Feud is only restarting because their kids decided to pull a Romeo and Juliet, but also go beserk and cause devastation all around them. Life is cyclical, eh?

The writing is just as enthralling to read as it was in ‘The Feud’. Although the writing always gets dark, the lighter moments are also still there and just as welcome as before. No detail is ever missed out by the author as every character’s thoughts spill out onto the page. A poignant one comes when Stanley is entranced by someone from pigeon club, called Pat the Pigeon (amazing name). Although we may laugh at Joyce’s entertaining and erratic behaviour, and all the jokes about him being a miserable old git in his shed, we see an emotional side open up, where we see what it’s really like to live with her. I always appreciate a lot going on in a book, and Kimberley Chambers has again struck the perfect balance. Although at times it can feel like a soap opera, the plot moves so fast that everything gets swept up together, and at times you have to put the book down and take a deep breath.

I’m sad there’s only one book left in this trilogy, but I’m going to take a short break from the series and read a different novel, in order to prolong my time in Eddie Mitchell’s world. Again, this is a must-read, and Kimberley Chambers is speedily racing up my list of favourite authors.

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