Kray, Roberta 1959–
Kray, Roberta 1959–
Born 1959, in Southport, England; married Reginald Kray (a gangster and convicted murderer), 1997 (died, 2000). Education: Graduated from college.
Novelist. Worked in publishing and media research in London, England, for fifteen years.
Reg Kray: A Man Apart (biography), Sidgwick & Jackson (London, England), 2002.
The Debt: A Novel of the London Underworld, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2006.
The Pact, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2007.
Roberta Kray is the author of Reg Kray: A Man Apart, a biography of her husband, notorious British gangster Reginald Kray, as well as The Debt: A Novel of the London Underworld and The Pact, a pair of well-received crime thrillers.
Born in Southport, England, in 1959, Roberta earned a degree in English literature and worked in publishing and media research for fifteen years before she met Reg, a man some twenty-five years her senior. In 1996, Roberta agreed to publicize a video about Ron Kray, Reg's twin brother, and she ventured to Maidstone Prison where Reg was serving a thirty-year sentence for murder. ‘It was, then, more of a business than a social meeting,’ Roberta told Anna Pukas in an interview on the Krays Web site. ‘Reg asked me to visit again two or three weeks later. We began writing and talking regularly on the phone. I visited about once a month when the commitments of running my own business permitted. Gradually we slid beyond friendship. We became softer with one another, held hands, talked about many things.’ The pair eventually fell in love, and they were married in the prison chapel in 1997. After he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000, Reg was released from prison; he died shortly after. ‘We were good for each other,’ Roberta remarked to London Times interviewer Lisa Grainger. ‘He would always tell me how much happiness I'd brought him, and write little notes telling me. And he gave me so much more confidence. Yes, of course it was tough, but I wouldn't swap that time for anything. I owe him a lot.’ Roberta published Reg Kray in 2002.
Roberta turned to fiction in 2006 with the publication of The Debt, ‘an uncompromising, grit-filled crime novel,’ observed Booklist contributor David Pitt. The work concerns Johnny Frank, a convicted murderer who is freed from prison after serving an eighteen-year term and plans to exact revenge on Jim Buckley, an informant who betrayed him. Under the guise of recovering a stash of hidden diamonds, Frank manages to find lodging in the Buckley household, where Jim lives with his ex-convict son, Marc, and Marc's wife, Simone. When Marc is kidnapped, Simone must team with Frank to ensure her husband's safety. ‘The alternating points of view between Simone and Johnny add to the suspense,’ noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, and a Publishers Weekly critic stated, ‘Razor-sharp writing and excellent pacing elevate this effort beyond the standard vengeance thriller."
In The Pact, a woman makes a fateful deal with a menacing crime figure. When Eve Weston learns that her younger brother has been beaten in prison, she hires inmate Martin Cavelli to protect him in exchange for guarding some packages for the convict. After her apartment is ransacked and a man is murdered, Eve realizes she is in grave danger. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly remarked that Kray ‘delivers well-drawn minor characters and a resilient, appealing heroine,’ and a Kirkus Reviews critic stated that the author ‘skillfully weaves a large cast and many plot lines into a big, brisk, busy tale of crime."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of The Debt: A Novel of the London Underworld, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of The Debt, p. 163; January 15, 2007, review of The Pact, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, February 6, 2006, review of The Debt, p. 46; January 22, 2007, review of The Pact, p. 166.
Times (London, England), April 9, 2006, Lisa Grainger, ‘Roberta Kray."
Krays Web site,http://www.thekrays.co.uk/lovereg.htm (October 11, 2007), Anna Pukas, ‘Life, Love and Reg Kray."
Shotsmag Web site,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (November 1, 2007), Mike Stotter, review of The Debt.
Spinetingler Web site, (March 16, 2007) Theodore Feit, review of The Pact, p. 166.