Authors: Lee Martin
Queenie Doyle ruled over south London gangland and her four daughters – Frankie, Mags, Sharon and Roxie - with an iron fist.
When Queenie’s death brings the Doyle empire crashing down, the sisters grow apart - each taking a different path in life. Eldest sister Frankie has a lot of love to give but her dreams have been stifled by being forced into becoming mother to the girls at just 18. Crazy Mags committed the ultimate rebellion against her upbringing - by joining the police force. Baby Roxie is living it up on the Costa Del Sol, but she leaves a string of dead men behind her. Sharon marries Monty, an accountant and settles down to raise a family and to live a perfect life in suburbia - but her world is shattered when Monty dies in mysterious circumstances.
But is it an accident or murder? As the Doyle sisters pull together to find out what really happened to Monty they enter a world of drugs, dirty money and clean guns, risking their own safety to deal out their own brand of justice.
Because, when someone harms the Doyles, they soon realise that these sisters fight as one. After all, blood is thicker than water…
‘The Lipstick Killers - a lively and funny novel where the sisters take the law into their own hands’ -
Lee Martin is definitely not a gangster’s wife…
Other titles by the same author
August Bank Holiday Monday 1989. Party time at the Doyles and everyone was showing their best faces. Roxanne – Roxie for short – Doyle’s sixth birthday. Named after her father Mickey’s favourite Police song, she was. The spoilt baby in the family of four daughters. Frances known as Frankie, the eldest at thirteen. The clever one. University material, everyone said. Then Margaret – who would only answer to Mags.
old. Crazy like a fox. Smart too, but already showing a resentful streak when it came to authority. Next, Sharon. Nine. Sweet, but docile enough to be easily led into bad ways. And finally of course Roxie. The baby – the apple of everyone’s eye, especially their mother.
‘Five bleedin’ women,’ their dad used to say. ‘Five in one house, and just me to get stick day and night. I can’t get away with anything.’ The sisters fought each other like cats and dogs, or more like cats and bitches, but beware of any outsider sticking his or her oar in. Then they become one. A four-headed Hydra looking for a
ruck. The bigger the better. Like when one of the bigger boys at school cut the end of Sharon’s plait one day, then was ambushed on the way home by the girls –
Roxie being let loose on his head with a pair of
whilst Frankie and Mags held him down. He looked like he had alopecia when she finished, and she always swore that it was that day she decided her later choice of career as a hairdresser.
Their dad complained, but he didn’t mean it. They knew as well as him that he was secretly proud of his feisty brood. And the mock-Tudor mansion in Streatham, south London was big enough for him to get lost in if needed. From the playroom in the attic, down five floors to the basement where there was a juke box, wet bar, pool table, and the biggest colour TV currently available linked into a state-of-the-art video recorder and music centre, plus a vast collection of films, records and tapes. Or in the five car garage at the side of the house which held Mickey’s collection of vintage cars and top of the range Harleys.
That boiling hot Monday though, all the action was outside in the back garden that stretched four hundred yards to a bank of trees that hid the South Circular road from view. A wooden floored marquee had been erected for the finest food and drink money could buy. Moet flowing like water. Nouvelle cuisine for the adults, and burgers and fries for the kids. ADJ had set up twin decks to play the hits of the day by Kylie, Jason, Madonna, The Bangles for the kids, but with plenty of golden oldies for the grown-ups when the dancing and boozing really got going after sunset. Sure it was loud, yeah. But fuck it, it wasn’t everyday, and besides the neighbours had been
invited. If they chose not to come, well let them close their windows and doors and watch bloody
. They wouldn’t complain. At least not to the face of the lady of the house, Queenie Doyle. Real name Alice, which she detested. She christened herself Queenie at an early age, and the way she ran the south London scene like a monarch, it fitted perfectly. She scared the shit out of them, as did her daughters. The neighbours called them the Wild Bunch, despite seeing them in their private school uniform every day. They lowered the tone of the area, said the school playground gossip. Must be incomers from Catford or Lewisham or some such. Too much money and not enough manners they said – as long as Queenie or one of her clan couldn’t overhear them.
Queenie didn’t care what those snobby bitches at the school gates said. She had family all over south London. No fucker messed with the Doyles. The house was theirs, bought and paid for. No mortgage. And cash was rolling in from all directions. Too much sometimes. So let’s have some fun, spend some dough. It’s party time, and that was all that mattered – for now.
By three pm the place was buzzing. The private road the Doyles lived in was rammed with cars. Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Aston-M Cadillacs, Porsches, all shiny and new. A million quids’ worth of motors by anyone’s reckoning. The lounge was so full of toys for Roxie that Hamleys’ shelves must have been empty. Wrapping paper and cards littered the floor as she ripped open the parcels delivered by friends and family. Outside the disco was booming and the sisters were practising their dance routines with the few friends from school they’d invited. Not many. The Doyle girls didn’t
pal up easily. They didn’t need to – they had each other.
The front door was open wide to allow easy entry for the guests. They came in all shapes, sizes, colours and sexual inclinations. Say one thing for the Doyles, they played no favourites. Queenie was the boss, and Queenie knew that it took all sorts. And they all had their uses. Whores, pimps, drug dealers, gangsters of every stripe, bookies, even some coppers who were on the payroll. It was a family day and all were welcome to eat, drink and have a laugh at the Doyles’ expense. No trouble. That was the only rule, and a half-dozen or so heavy looking individuals were scattered around the place front and back, to make sure that everyone stuck to that particular rule – sweating in their dark suits to disguise whatever weapon of choice sat beneath.
Despite the heat Queenie felt cold and wore a mink wrap around her shoulders. She put down her
glass and excused herself and went upstairs to her and Mickey’s bedroom, and went into the en-suite. She dropped the stole onto the floor and stripped off her dress and bra. The lumps were still there under the skin of her ample breasts. She was the only one who knew. She hadn’t let Mickey touch her for months, maybe a year. More lumps than she remembered, and they were tender to her touch, sending pain down to her crotch. She knew she should go to the doctor, but she had no time for them. The pain made her vomit into the toilet and she cried as she knelt on the floor. ‘Oh, girls,’ she said to herself. ‘I’m so sorry.’
A ringing phone in the middle of the night always brings life-changing news. News of a death, or a birth. And so it was when Margaret Doyle was woken from a restless sleep at three in the morning. She didn’t yet know it, but she woke to a day that would change her life and that of her family forever. She fumbled for the receiver in the dark, and the empty wine glass on her bedside table bounced onto the carpet. ‘Shit,’ she mumbled, then spoke into the phone. ‘What?’
‘Mags, it’s me,’ said the voice on the other end of the line.
‘I know who it is,’ said Margaret, her voice full of sleep. ‘What do you want at this time of night?’
‘It’s Monty,’ said the familiar female voice. ‘He’s dead.’
Margaret tried to pull herself awake through the fog of alcohol and the sleeping pill she’d taken at midnight. ‘Do what?’
‘Monty. Our brother-in-law. Sharon’s husband – he’s dead.’
Margaret sat up, switched on the bedside lamp, winced at the light, then said, ‘wait a minute Frankie. Just wait.’ There was a bottle of Evian water next to the lamp, and she put the receiver under her chin and grabbed it, unscrewed the top and took a long drink. ‘That’s better,’ she said. ‘Now what are you talking about?’
‘Listen,’ said Frances Foster, nee Doyle. ‘Monty’s dead. Have you got that?’
‘This is no joke?’
‘For fuck’s sake Mags. I’m not in the habit of making jokes at this time of night,’ snapped her sister.
Or any other time, thought Margaret, but said nothing. She checked the bedside clock. 3.14 a.m. ‘He was coming home from some do or other in Southampton,’ Frankie went on, ‘it was pissing down with rain and the car came off the road near Petersfield. It hit a tree. He was killed outright they reckon.’
‘Who reckons?’ said Mags, immediately switching to business mode. In her job, she was used to matters of life and death.
‘The doctors here, and the cops.’
‘Where’s here?’ asked Margaret.
‘Guildford Hospital. I’m outside in the rain having a fag. I can’t stand it in there.’
‘Was he pissed?’
‘Trust you to ask that. Always the copper.’
‘Well, was he?’
‘I don’t know. He could’ve been. Out late like that. I can’t think about that now,’ said Frankie, her voice choked with emotion.
‘OK. Don’t get upset. Where’s Sharon now?’
‘Still inside. She’s in bits. The kids are at home, being looked after by a neighbour. I’ll have to go back soon, but I thought I should let you know.’
‘When did it happen?’ asked Margaret, now fully awake and searching her bedside table for her cigarettes and lighter.
‘About midnight. A bloke in a truck he’d just
saw it all. He called the police and ambulance.’
‘And you just phoned me now? You took your time.’
‘Christ Mags. What’s the matter with you? They had to get in touch with Sharon, then she called me. We had to sort out the kids and get here, identify the body, all that old bollocks. This is the first chance I’ve had.’
‘Sorry. What about Roxie?’
‘I haven’t told anyone else. I’ll get in touch with her tomorrow.’
Margaret lit a Silk Cut and breathed out smoke. ‘You’re not going to wake
‘She’s in bloody Spain, you’re in London. She’s
out on the razz, knowing her and what can she do tonight anyway? Next thing you’ll be asking why Sharon didn’t call you first.’
‘It’s always about you isn’t it? You bitch when I call you, and you’d have bitched more if I hadn’t. Same old Mags.’
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ said Margaret. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t mean to snap at you. I am really shocked at what’s happened to Monty. It’s just that I haven’t been sleeping.’
‘You never did. Not even as a baby, mum said.’
Mags didn’t want to think about the memories her
sister’s words dredged up. ‘Do you want me to come down?’
‘If you want.’ Frankie’s voice was flat.
‘Don’t be so enthusiastic will you. She is
‘And when did you last see her? Or the kids?’ said Frankie, pointedly.
‘I dunno. Christmas I suppose. Let’s not start all that.’ Mags felt the familiar animosity rising towards her sister and worked at keeping it in check. ‘I’ll get dressed, and come down. I’ll go to… Where you going to be?’
‘At Sharon’s. Do you remember the address?’
‘Cut it out, will you. Now’s not the time. I’ll be down in a few hours.’
‘You all right to drive?’ said Frances, her tone
‘Well, take it easy, sis. We don’t want another accident tonight, do we?’
‘I’ll be okay. I’ll see you soon,’ and with that Margaret put down the phone, her heart full of sympathy for Sharon and her two fatherless children.