Mad Frank’s Diary by Frankie Fraser with James Morton.
- A Chronicle of the Life of Britain's most notorious villain
I have to say this was not the easiest book to review. Why was that? Well, it is not so much written, as comes across as if someone gave the subject a tape-recorder, one Frankie Fraser in this case, and said: Tell us all your memoirs, all your adventures and knowledge about the crime scene, and most especially the London crime scene, and we’ll knock it up into a decent book, and because we all know that the general public are fascinated by gangsters and crime and murder mysteries in all their guises, we’ll sell loads and all make a pot of money out of it.
If that’s true, and Frankie has indeed made some decent cash out of it, well, good on him, because for most of his life, as I am sure he would be the first to admit, he has got by, and got his family through, with income that has more often than not been made outside the law.
And the book is not strictly a diary either as you might expect, just a whole load of random events, some of which Frankie was personally involved in, and some not, and they are simply listed in dated chronological order, days and months, but the year is ignored, so it could be 1939 or 1999, so there’s no real order of the events as they happened.
That said, it’s quite a fascinating book, and indeed Mr Fraser comes across as an very interesting man. His grandmother, if we are to believe, was a full blood native Canadian Indian, and when you come to glance at his picture you can certainly see the resemblance in that.
I have to confess that I wasn’t sure if Frankie Fraser was still alive or had passed over to the great prison in the sky, but sure enough, according to my internet research he is still with us, aged 90, at the time of writing, and living in sheltered accommodation in Peckham, London.
And guess what? You might be surprised to learn that in 2013 aged 89, he was issued with an ASBO, an Anti Social Behavioural Order, by the police after a dispute with another resident, or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that at all.
One of the things that came through from the book was his ongoing dispute with the Carter family or Carter gang, and I just want to say that whoever they are, they are absolutely no relation of yours truly!
Frankie Fraser served no less than forty-two years of his long life in borstal and prisons, and that is far too long for anyone, and we can all but hope that he enjoys a long, happy, and contented retirement. In later life he has become something of a cause celebre, with famous friends, and books aplenty, and tours and shows and even being invited to address University debating societies and the like. He seems to have enjoyed all that immensely, and why not?
If you have any interest in crime in general, and the London crime scene in particular, I am sure you will find enough stuff in this to keep you hooked. It’s a book you can dip into as often or as infrequently as you wish, as there is no continuity in it at all because of the way it is set up, so in effect they are numerous short stories, so if you like shorts then you will like this.
And it’s written, much as I guess it was dictated, in Cockney, and maybe that brings more immediacy and authenticity to it. For the uninitiated, there will be a few puzzling sentences in there, that’s for sure. But in the end I enjoyed the book, it was easy to read, and I enjoyed trying hard to understand the man and his life, though I am not sure that I ever managed to do exactly that.
Here's one of the last interviews with the now late Frankie Fraser, who died at the age of 90.