Book Jacket


rank 5928
word count 23084
date submitted 17.02.2009
date updated 04.04.2009
genres: Thriller, Children's, Young Adult, ...
classification: universal

The Granny Mafia

Gayle Williamson

Grannies. An institution in their own right; the foundation of our families.
Or are they?
Then you haven't met Granny Belle and the Granny Mafia.


Jack Platt loves his Granny very much. She's the best cook, the best listener and the best pocket money giver, but most importantly she always makes Jack feel very special. Yes, his Granny is the BEST Granny in the whole wide world.
But behind the white permed hair and gold spectacles belies a secret so dark it will rock the very core of every grandchild and Grannies will never be seen in the same light. Ever again!

Abandoned at the age of five by his mother, Jack lives with his dad Charlie and staunch Catholic Granny Belle in the east end of London.
Eight years later, life's been pretty normal for the teenager, forever watching the comings and goings of his Grandmother's colourful friends and the odd stranger, whose problems are always miraculously resolved. But why is that?

Then one evening curiosity gets too much as he over hears Granny Belle utter, " -make it quick...and clean!"
But are these fateful words connected to the recent spate of murders or merely a coincidence?

Together with his best friend Phoebe they find out if or how the murders are linked to the Granny Mafia. And so the adventure begins...

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Women What Write wrote 1595 days ago

a good start but reads like a draft, could be so much better, and funnier.

Elaina wrote 1904 days ago

Very funny and well written. The action is a bit breathless, but overall worth placing on my shelf!

All the best
Gathering of Rain

KinDallas wrote 1905 days ago

My goodness, I have laughed this hard in a while. When the granny said "I'm the cleaner" I had flashbacks to "Pulp Fiction" with The Wolf.

There are some typos and the action does get a touch too frenetic. Do a thorough reread (and consult your grammar bible!) and this will be darn near perfection. Thank you for the delightful read. You're going on my bookshelf.

Bren Verrill wrote 1909 days ago

Oh, well done. Shades of Catherine Tate and those grannies in Monty Python. You've caught me here on a subject I feel quite strongly about: the wisdom of the old. Yes, I'm not yet fifty, but I can't help feeling there's something we've lost in the West by idolising the young. Maybe this book will redress the balance. The dialogue works very well,. although there are one or two typos you might want to take care of:

Both at the end of Chapter 1:

"Better it me than" should read "better me than".

"Eves-dropping" should be eavesdropping.

Apart from that a lovely concept, well written. Bookshelved.

pialia wrote 1909 days ago


This is quite funny overall. I think my favorite part was the announcement that Rex was no more, which conjured up the image of the old lady running him down. Jack's incredulous discovery of Granny's money stash and just avoiding being discovered has me firmly hooked to read on. The story does need a thorough proofread for misspelled/misused words, but you're off to a really great start.


Pat Brehony wrote 1910 days ago

Hi Gayle,
I will track your progress with interest.
Good luck.

berni stevens wrote 1912 days ago

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get here to read your book, but it was my loss. This is great. I just love the grannies. I kept thinking of the Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets . . . dotty old ladies who actually aren't so dotty! Very funny.

The thought of my granny meeting me from school . . . *shudders* . . . very frightening.
So much worse for an adolescent boy too!

Just one thing I spotted in Chapter 3, it should be 'Jack strode toward the school gates . . .' not strided.

Best of luck.


Pat Brehony wrote 1912 days ago

Hi Gayle,
I have now read the entire script. It holds the attention very well and has a great finish. We all must have similar grans (or would like to)! Good pace and excellent action and dialogue.
Check spelling of Turret's syndrome in chapter 9. I think the correct version is Tourette's. I also found a stray apostrophe on a plural...I could not find it again when I searched!
Good luck as you head for publication.

Pat Brehony wrote 1920 days ago

Hi Gayle,
I love the delicious possibilities you have stitched into your book. Why did I not discover it before?
Looking forward to reading further.
Good luck. Pat.

PATRICK BARRETT wrote 1928 days ago

Many well observed moments in this tale. Smooth and well written. On my shelf. Patrick Barrett (Shakespeares Cuthbert)

talespinner wrote 1931 days ago

Hi Gayle
I love the idea of the Granny Mafia. The title creates such a great image straight away.
I agree with the comments about fleshing it out. Maybe take a bit more time over the set up. Also there was sometimes a bit of obvious telling e.g. the bishop - if he was so famous wouldn't he know who he was because she would have been going on about him? The odd sensation in his pocket - his mobile, why would this be odd?
The character of Gran is super but I wondered about Jack. Although you set him up as someone to care about (because of his mum leaving) I didn't get a real feel for him at first. I'm not sure why. Maybe I need to have a tiny element of danger to touch him very early on, so that I want to keep him safe?
Good luck with this. Shelved

RachelMay wrote 1933 days ago

Great fun! I love this. There have only been a few young adult books that have just been an absolute pleasure to read. This was one of them. I feel that what would make this better, would be if you expanded it a bit more and turned it into a novel rather than a novella. The characters are interesting enough as well as the story. Proudly placing this on my shelf.

Wishing you the best.
Rachel May

bluestocking wrote 1934 days ago

Oo! Very freaky and fun. I enjoyed this hugely, esp. since my own maternal grandmother was an utterly terrifying specimen. I zoomed through Ch. 4, and then skipped ahead and read 10 and 11.

The writing is quick and sharp throughout, with no mushy or boring bits. The characters are distinctly, deftly drawn. The humor is wonderful and Granny Belle is so pleasantly, powderedly creepy, in kind of an 'Arsenic and Old Lace' kind of way. I think the story is terrific.

My only problem with it is the length--if it's really a novella just over 23,000 words long, I think you need to flesh out the story about mama and go all the way--at least 50,000 or 60,000 words. I don't doubt that you could do this on your head, because you are a very fluent raconteur. Mind you I am no expert on publishing--I know a few publishing professionals and pick up everything I can online and in the press. From what I understand, though, that is the minimum length for a novel. And this really should be a novel, I think. (And a movie!!) In any case--shelved unhesitatingly. All the best, Maria.

Charity Shindle wrote 1934 days ago

Entertaining, fast, and hilarious. You are fantastic at drawing in the reader with your characters. On my shelf.
See you in print,

AnnabelleP wrote 1944 days ago

Hi Gayle,
I thought I had read this and commented - so I think I must've read your pitch and the first chapters and then not commented, bizarre! Anyway, it's been shelved ;-) This is a great idea, I love your pitch and your cover. More importantly, this is well written with wonderful characters. There's a sense of mystery about the story, an exciting expectation of what is to come. I think it will appeal to your target audience, without a doubt. The title itself is enough to make me want to read it ;-) I feel it should be doing better in the charts and wonder why it isn't :-(
Best of luck with it, I'm sure it will be published.
(Would love your thoughts on Adelaide if you can ;-))

mskea wrote 1946 days ago

Hi Gayle,
Lots to appeal to me here - the boy who has had a rough ride with his mum, the gran who is more than just a gran, the Rotters (if this was adult I'd say the name was a bit ott, but as its YA...)The laxative for Lee and his brother - just the right humour for the age group - who of us hasn't dreamt of giving someone Exlax. And removing the loo rolls - brilliant touch.
The opening was surprisingly lyrical - 'distorted memories lingered, a nagging reminder of days gone by..' I loved this phrase, but was a little disappointed that there wasn't more of this quality of description.
I did have a few issues though that might be worth a thought. - 'basked in a yellow glow, crying' - I'm sorry but I didn't know what you meant here, hence it was distracting. / 'Wait up.' - Sounds very American to me, though as I don't know London teenagers maybe it is in keeping. / There is one definite inconsistency - 'Jack can't remember the day his mother walked out' + 'Jack sat... dredging up memories of that fateful day.' - Can't both be true.
And one final point - having Lee put his hand in dog poo was a problem for me on two counts - 1. Muck would have been fine, but Phoebe and Jack killing themselves laughing over dog poo seriously diminished my sympathy for them - excrement is dangerous as well as unpleasant. 2. As this is the first time we have met Lee, he hasn't yet been established as a bad guy, so P+J's reaction, especially when it is really Jack who is in the wrong in the first place does seem over the top.
Once we see that Lee and co. are trouble you can up the ante - eg the laxative, but we have to lose sympathy for them first.
But these are minor issues and easily tweaked, otherwise this is an entertaining read,
Going for a spin on my shelf,
(I haven't commented on Grannie Belle's accent, because I am not qualified to do so, but it did sound a little awkward to me.)

Heidi Mannan wrote 1947 days ago

Hi Gayle,

This is one of the best ideas I've come across on this site. I love the humor and pacing. I'd definitely buy a copy of this! Hopefully some day I'll have the chance. It's going onto my shelf right now. Best of luck!

If you get a chance to look at Turning Red, I'd be grateful. :)

Jack Ramsay wrote 1948 days ago

Oh! And I meant to say - what a cracking cover :-)

Jack Ramsay wrote 1948 days ago

HI Gayle,

This is a delight! Out of the ordinary, for sure, and well written. I read the first three chapters and made some notes as I went, so here are my thoughts and observations.

Good work on creating the cuddly granny, and giving just a hint of foreshadowing of what she's capable of (via her dialogue regarding the woman who dumped Jack) and why. Good use of subtlety. Same again later in the chapter - 'Bloody men... he'll get his. I'm sure of that.' And in ch2 ('...bloody menace to society...') And then you increase the intensity, taking it from mere words to physicality (when Gran clobbers the Rotters). Very nicely done. You've got us (well, me at any rate) on board, liking Gran, and now perfectly willing to accept that she's the 'good guy' here. That's tricky to do, but you've pulled it off with aplomb.

The atmosphere - you've created that very well, almost due entirely to the way you've choreographed your very well-drawn characters within the setting. There's a feel here (to my mind, at least) of a modern-day Vera Drake, but for the YA market. (you've even got a character called Vera adjusting her wrinkly - dare I say 'Nora Batty style' stockings?) Superbly done :-)

It's clear that you understand the obligations of a writer, because at the end of each scene you prompt your readers to keep reading, and you do that by planting another question (very, very subtly) in their minds (i.e. murder? a man? Hm...what's going on there, then?) - 'neighbour hood' should be all one word, by the way. Then, right at the end of the chapter, the tension has risen higher when Jack's (great name, by the way) listening at the living room door. Granny Mafia? I've got to read on! Well done :)

As Elizabeth said, there's a bit of room for improvement regarding punct, spelling and consistency (of dialogue, viewpoint - mixing narration with character thoughts, etc. I don't mind the head-hopping, but I'd prefer character thoughts to be more easily identifiable as such - just like you did in scene 4 of ch 3).

'...She's got a lot to answer for that woman.' Need a comma before 'that woman.'

Use an EM dash (three hyphens) for interruptions in dialogue.

'...another of Gran's outburst.' outbursts?

'Alwright...' in ch3. Alright?

'...slow done...' Down?

Though there are more examples, it's tiny stuff and it's easily fixed. I'm happy to shelve this because it's engaging, different, thoughtfully put together and just plain *fun* to read. Best of luck with it - if I saw it on the shelf at Waterstones or Borders, I'd buy a copy for sure.

--Jack Ramsay (Brogan's Crossing)

Stephen G Thompson wrote 1948 days ago

This is a wonderful breath of fresh air Gayle!

As one who has a 'staunch Catholic' Granny, I really recognised Granny Belle's colourfyl character. This is a nicely paced, well written and pleasant read Gayle and I fear I can make no suggestions for improvements (sorry!)


God Bless -

Lord Dunno wrote 1950 days ago

What a great idea! I love the humour in this. Great title, good plot and lots of fun! Thanks for cheerin' me up this morning.

Karen Carr wrote 1951 days ago

Hey Gayle
The Granny Mafia came up on my swap list. YES - is all I can say. I love it - your writing has a special humor in it that is so fun to read - and you keep us movin'

some notes:

Jack Sprat - this name reminded me of the nursery rhyme 'jack sprat can eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean'

love this line "the lone lamp illuminated scribbles in the premature darkness'

like the conversation between gran and jack. it's real and I can see gran has a bit of spunk in her.

POV here is of the grandma, you should stick with one pov per chapter and you start with jacks "her mind forming harden images of her daughter..."

I'd like to see more description of the granny and jack, maybe add some detail of their clothes, their hair, facial expressions, what are they doing with their hands, do they have a nervous tick, do they always smile a certain way, things like that - i think it will help us get to know the characters better.

Charlie's POV here 'noticing his son's ddistant expression" now i'm going to say that I guess some people write in the omni (gosh I cant spell the rest) present? point of view, which you have done here - sometimes it works, but just be aware that it can get confusing sometimes and create a bit of distance from your reader.

Here I think i got a little confused - did grandma go back in the kitchen or jack and charlie come back into the living room to talk. See, first you have charlie "huddled over the kitchen sink" doing dishes and then you have him asking "why what happened" to his grandmother - add some kind of reference that says how he got there.

Now you might think because of all these notes, I didn't like it -- but i did - alot. I think you have a great idea here, great plot, mystery and some interesting and diverse characters and I'm going to back you because of this. I'd suggest going through this with a fine tooth comb.


PS, Take all my suggestions with a grain of salt, they are afterall just my opinion.


TJ Rands wrote 1956 days ago

hi gayle,

if/when this hits the airport shelves, everyone will pick it up because the title is GREAT.

the pitch, the writing and the story, deliver as well.-CERT WINNER FOR ME.


John Minichillo wrote 1957 days ago


I love your cover and went into this thinking about the old Monty Python skit about the Grannie Gangs. I've read the first three chaps. and still sort of have the same feeling. You take care to introduce the characters as the plot slowly unfolds. I'm curious about the choice of the name Jack Sprat, because of the nursery rhyme, and I'm afraid every time I come across the name that rhyme starts in my head. Maybe you don't mind doing this to me, you don't seem at all opposed to silliness.

As far as the writing, you rely a lot on dialogue. Which is both well done and in some places could use trimming. Generally, it's better if plot points don't come out through dialogue, but that didn't bother me so much here. The idea is that it can feel 'forced' and also that a reader may miss something important.

You do the dialect really well, something as an American writer I tend to stay away from because it has a bad history over here. I do think it would be wise to cut down on the chit-chat of the dialogue a little. Dialogue should be somewhat condensed and not an exact replica of real cut out the generalized conversational ticks and formalities.

abonilla wrote 1958 days ago

I've just finished chapter 1. I love the premise for this story. Who knows what your innocent grandma could be up to? You've got talent for sure and the story flowed well. I agree with wannabe that perhaps you should end the chapter somewhere else. If you leave off somewhere during the 'granny meeting' it will encourage the reader to flip the page. I did feel like you set the tone, however, with the murder and the crying woman. It tied their meeting in with the timbre of the story. All in all, it's a great read! I'll shelf this as soon as I free up some space and I can't wait to read on. Good luck with this!


Joanna Stephen-Ward wrote 1959 days ago

A bit of overwriting. Cut your adverbs EG somewhat. Prune adjectives - rusty old knife. Cut either rusty or old, preferably old. Crestfallen is one word. You don't need capitals in Jack, dinner's ready. Or in any other dialogue. Shouted, yelled or exclaimation marks are sufficient. Comas are used before and after those addressed in dialogue.

This needs a lot of editing. For me, it didn't live up to my expectations. It could be an absolutely fantastic and sinister story. I would make it more creepy, so that the reader knows something is very wrong, but Jack doesn't.

Best of luck with this though. It's a very original idea.

Joanna Stephen-Ward wrote 1960 days ago

Hello Gayle,

Wonderful pitch and eye catching cover.. This sounds like avery original idea. On my watch list. I'll be back to read more.


Katrina Twitchett wrote 1960 days ago

Hi Gayle,

Love the premise for this book. Grannies - what a delightful array of life wrinkles to explore.

Chapter one -
her heavily powered face - ?powdered?
the day they're paths would eventually cross - their

I love the pace and style of this, cup of tea, slice of cake and some dead bodies - ooooh delicious! Just the sort of thing to make me want to curl up and read. Unfortunately no time for that today, so just the first three chapters I'm afraid. Still, enough to make me pop this fun book on my shelf and wish you all the best.

Don't Forget Your Lucky Pants

tiggertoo wrote 1964 days ago

The following are my notes after reading the first 3 chapters:
* Great synopsis. “Make it quick and clean!” - clever implication.

* “the size of a broom cupboard” made me smile

* “Bleeding men.” You might want to use a different word. Bleeding conjures up an image of literally bleeding men - this will be a problem particularly for any non-Brit. Consider “ flippin’ ” - which reminds me: would Granny sound her “gs”?

* I like chapter endings that hook or tease the reader (and I hate ones where people go to bed). How about ending yours with the comment about the Granny Mafia. “Stab you with their hat pins” seems a good line to close with.

* Ah, “dog poo” - you know your audience!

* Nice end to chapter 2 - that’s what I like.

* The clock “jubilantly” flashes. A word of advice that I’ve got from this site is to be careful not to overdo the adjectives (or adverbs for that matter). I haven’t thought I till this point, but it’s something for you to wary of. Find a better noun or verb because adjectives and adverbs can distract the reader (sometimes with irrelevancies). Here I also wonder whether “jubilantly” is OK for the target age. My nine year old would happily read it, but I doubt she’d really understand.

* End of chapter 3, didn’t do it for me. Have a rethink.

So in a nutshell, I was very impressed. I like the premise. You have some great characters and characterisation and the dialogue is pretty natural. This can’t be your first book, because it flows and is structured so well.

Good luck with this. Now on my shelf you go.

The Jin Deception

HWBaker wrote 1965 days ago


I can picture Granny Belle chewing on a cigar in a smoke filled room, presiding over a late night poker game, then waking early the next morning to attend an early morning church service! I enjoyed the way you developed this character, using her to draw me into your story. As is my usual, I read the first three chapters and plan to read more once I have sampled a few more books.

Thank you for an enjoyable read, best of luck.

H. W. Baker

Janet Marie wrote 1967 days ago

Hi Gayle. A fun read. Is there such a term as "God Dad" or is the a polite way of saying something else? Good opening. Shifting POV between granny and protagonist might not be necessary. You build expectation well with the protagonist recieving hints about his granny. Great with givng granny two different sides of her personality. Nice suspense with innocent objects and topics to establish granny's criminal activity. I placed you on my shelf and send my best regards. Janet Marie

KJKron wrote 1967 days ago

There's a bit of a mystery here - how much of a mafia is Granny running or is it something cooked up in their heads? Conincidence? Maybe, but it adds to the possible humor of the situation. This book makes me smile a lot - clever idea - you've nailed the dialect. I'm going to back this.

Karen Bessey Pease wrote 1969 days ago


I've enojyed reading a portion of The Grannie Mafia. What a great idea! :o) I'm looking at my own Mammy in a new light already!

The only comments I would make are simple things that a proof read with fix-- mostly missing commas, and one "they're" which should have been "their." All in all, though, an enjoyable little tale that I think tweens would enjoy. When I've shuffled, I'll back this book for a bit.

All my best here on authonomy!


JanJ wrote 1970 days ago

Well I must be a child because I started reading this and I thought it was terrific. Nice voice from all corners. I didn't mind the changing POV's, as a reader I had no problem following along. Some rules are made to be broken sometimes. You did a wonderful job with Grandma's character, a fiesty woman that I wouldn't want to tangle with. Jake is a dear, I see him swept into some mischief with the little old grannies.
I think this is worth a turn on my book shelf. Good luck with this piece.

mumu wrote 1970 days ago

I love this: smothering his sausages with lashings of ketchup.

And who wouldn’t love the grandma?

The writing is lively and my thought is that kids will love it. I’m shelving it. By the way, my daughter has 14 children, so I think my experience here as a Grandma gives me weight as a critic--don't you.

I alway love to know--how many drafts on the book.


CarolinaAl wrote 1970 days ago

Hi Gayle,

I read your first three chapters.

You've written a thoroughly engaging YA intrigue.

Your characterization of Jack shows him to be innocent and respectful and typical. Granny Belle is anything but typical, and I love her.

Your descriptions are vivid without being intrusive. For example, 'Her hair was in rollers, held in place by a black hair net, cutting deep into her forehead; her mouth had sunken slightly as she'd forgotten to put in her false teeth.'

You use language well.The simile 'cutting through his thoughts like a rusty knife' was effective to me.

I laughed out loud at lines like 'They'd have your guts for garters' and 'Ere slow done, I'm not a bleeding trolley ya know.'

Your dialogue is superb and very entertaining.

Your pacing swept me up and held me in its clutches throughout my read.

Some suggested edits.

'You alright darlin?' Comma after 'alright.' Same thing with 'I'm fine Gran.' (comma after 'fine.') When using a name or title in dialogue, off set it with commas. There are more cases of this problem in your first three chapters.

'I'm fine Gran....honest,' he mumbled. When using ellipsis dots, three are sufficient. Same thing with 'You know, if I ever clap eyes on that bleeding mother of yours.....Well!' Thre are more cases of this type of problem in your first three chapters.

Consider reducing the number of exclamation marks by half. Overuse diminishes their effectiveness.

Turning down the volume on his Ipod and idly kicking stones . . . "Ipod' should be 'iPod.'

Though I had to slow down to make these notes, it didn't interfer with my enjoyment of your very engaging story.

Good luck with this book which I have backed.


PS: MIght I ask you to read and review SAVANNAH PASSION?

Gayle Williamson wrote 1975 days ago