"Lola" (Crown), by Melissa Scrivner Love
Melissa Scrivner Love's "Lola," her first novel, utilizes her television background and familiarity with law enforcement to craft a tough, gritty and graphic crime thriller.
Lola, who had a rough childhood, now lives with her boyfriend, Garcia, leader of a South Central Los Angeles gang called the Crenshaw Six. Every moment of every day feels both exhilarating and deadly to her. An opportunity for the gang to move up the social ladder of respectability and fear occurs when a Mexican drug cartel wants help recovering a lot of money and drugs. The leader of the group threatens to kill Lola if the contraband isn't retrieved.
In this world of gangs, street crime and vulnerability, Lola is not merely Garcia's woman or eye candy. She's the leader of the Crenshaw Six, and she's more ruthless than anyone can possibly imagine. She uses her brother as an example of the length she will go to show that a woman can be just as tough as a man, and create an even bigger empire.
The environment and neighborhood that Love creates on the page feels vivid and real. As a character who is strong, vibrant — and a true villain in every sense — Lola is the star of this tale. Although there are too many characters to juggle in the story, the focus on Lola and the people she surrounds herself with makes this one of the best written crime dramas to be published in quite some time.