They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but Brian McDonald’s Gangs of London sure doesn’t look like much from it’s barebones Amazon UK page. This article in the Guardian shows why, once again, “they” might be onto something. Tell me this snippet about a female shoplifting gang in London doesn’t tickle your fancy:
Presided over by a formidable “queen”, the Forty Elephants were responsible for the largest shoplifting operation ever seen in Britain between the 1870s and 1950s. The gang was first mentioned in newspapers in 1873, but police records suggest it had existed since the late 1700s.
Born in 1896 in Southwark, Annie Diamond became queen of the gang when she was 20. She ruled with military precision, dividing the gang into cells to ransack a single shop or raid a series of shops across the city simultaneously. To the police, she was “the cleverest of thieves” and called Diamond Annie, because she had a “punch to beware of”, said McDonald, thanks to fists studded with diamond rings.