It’s Manchester, July 1996, the month after the IRA bomb, and the Evening News is carrying reports of two murders. On the front page is a glamorous Egyptian woman, a socialite and heiress to an oil fortune, whose partially clothed body has been found in a basement. In the back pages there is a fifty-word piece on the murder of a young prostitute found dumped on a roadside.
For Henry Bane, fixer, loanshark and legman for one of Manchester’s established ganglords, it’s the second piece of news that hits hardest. Determined to find out what happened to his childhood sweetheart he searches his bombed city for answers, finding that these two stories belong on the same page, and that Bane’s world belongs to others – those willing to profit from guns, human trafficking and a Manchester in decay.
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Tom Benn, Stockport born and bred, is that rare thing. A startlingly new, ridiculously stylish, home-grown voice. Despite more than a casual nod to a rain-sodden Hulme dialect, Benn's debut is so full of energy and sharp one-liners, it will travel far and wide - Daily Mirror
I've never wanted to listen to the soundtrack to a book so much. Another element that stands out in the madly bloody but sometimes brilliant book is how the characters speak. Accents are notoriously tricky on the page, but Benn captures the south Manchester patter impressively - Independent
Tom Benn is set to be one of the distinctive crime writers of his generation. In Henry Bane he has created a sharp, sarcastic anti-hero with his own warped sense of honour and a narrative voice that is truly distinctive - Shots
A new name in the crime fiction section, is about to give us another hero of the genre - Manchester Evening News
A grisly thriller catches the feel and fear of Manchester on the slide - World Magazine
The book is driven by dialogue which is staccato and as sharp as a stiletto. For a debut novel it is breathtaking that this writer writes such incredible dialogue that drives the plot with the force of a fist connecting with Henry Bane's face. [...]He is Manchester's answer to Irvine Welsh - Crime Squad
The Doll Princess is a very assured and well written debut, fitting neatly into the urban noir category, with an appropriately ambiguous hero/anti-hero in Bane - Eurocrime
The Doll Princess is a crime novel unlike any other; the voices of real people can be heard throughout its pages. - We Love This Book
The Doll Princess carries the unmistakably pungent air...of deftly invoked squalor and menace, and is an impressive genre effort - Chimp Magazine
Tom Benn's debut novel is a long overdue good thing in many senses... and there is much to recommend, not least Benn's sturdy grip on vernacular... What's more , he's a good writter of action - a scene in the top room of a nightclub on Deansgate early in the novel is particularly good - Bookmunch
The Doll Princess is a promising, foul-mouthed debut in which gangsters and good guys fight for supremacy in a Manchester that resembles a war zone - Seven (Supplement to Sunday Telegraph)
immerse yourself in the language and the rhythm of the narrative and you're in for a fast and consuming ride through dark territory - Booksandwriters
a crime novel unlike any other; the voices of real people can be heard throughout its pages - We love this book