tell-all The incredible story of Linda Calvey - the 'Black Widow' gangsters' moll who makes an honest living out of crime
Linda Calvey has turned her own experiences in the underworld into the basis for her new career
She is the self-professed gangsters' moll who married a mobster and then wound up in prison for life for the murder of her hard-man lover.
But Linda Calvey has turned her own experiences in the underworld into the basis for her new career - and as she launches her debut novel she insists that is thrilled to be finally making an honest living out of crime.
Calvey, who has been nicknamed the 'Black Widow', once led an armed robbery gang and was the only woman to be imprisoned for gangland murder - but she says she now lives a quiet life as a doting granny.
In an interview on the Crime World podcast, Calvey tells all about her extraordinary life amongst some of London's most high-profile gangsters and reveals how she refused marriage proposals from a host of well-known criminals.
And she says that she is now putting her own experiences to good use by creating fictional characters for her new novel The Locksmith about a woman who makes her way up the ranks of organised crime.
"Nowadays I just look back and think 'was that a real person?' All my characters are loosely based on people that I have met or know. Even the horrible ones, the people I have met through time, and each person in my book is based on an actual person. Maybe 20 per cent is that person and the other 80 per cent is fiction around them, so it's a bit of a mix," she says.
"Unfortunately in a lot of ways I have the life experience to go back on. I was a gangsters' moll and I'm not any more. I'm now a legitimate author and I live a quiet life with my family. I see my son and daughter and my grandchildren regularly and my brothers and my sisters.
"And all my family have stayed very close to me and at times I wonder why. I'm sure over the years they felt like pulling their hair out but they have all stayed really close to me and they all love me and I love them dearly. And now they are very proud to say that Linda has done a book."
Now in her seventies, Linda Calvey has certainly had a life less ordinary. Convicted of murder, jailed with Myra Hindley and Rose West she is no ordinary pensioner.
She was just a young child when she remembers being first tempted by the lure of money. "I saw a lady sitting with a fur coat in a Rolls Royce. I looked at her and I thought 'one day I'm gonna have a fur coat and a car like that.' Ironically, it wasn't until I met my last husband that I got the 'roller' and he collected me from prison, but I had plenty of furs before that."
Linda's first husband, armed robber Mickey Calvey, was the love of her life. He was shot dead by police during a botched raid, leaving her a young widow with two small kids.
She says that was the catalyst to turn her into a criminal as she knew she would have to provide for her children the way her husband once had.
It was during underworld fundraisers to support her after his death that she met her second partner. Ronnie Cook was a friend of Ronnie and Reggie Kray and an associate of Freddie Foreman. He was charming but he was also a violent psychopath who took what he wanted and that included women.
"People were telling me to be careful but he was persistent. He made it clear that I was his girlfriend. He showered me with gifts. He put a diamond ring on my finger and said that it meant I belonged to him," she says.
In her previous book Meet the Black Widow about her life in crime she describes Cook as being a psychopath who was often violent to her. After 18 months together he was jailed but expected her to wait for him as he served a 16-year jail term for a Brinks robbery.
Linda says she turned to armed robbery herself to make ends meet and found out she was pretty good at it. She ran a gang of criminals and partook in more than 20 major robberies but she wound up getting her first prison sentence while her boyfriend was also behind bars. The seven years she was given was the longest sentence in Holloway at the time.
In her interview Linda says she did the time without complaint as she had 'done the crime'. After her release, Cook began enjoying parole days and during one of those he was shot dead in the kitchen of her home.
She claims the hitman, Daniel Reese, killed Cook to save her son from harm and later married the killer in prison as they both served life sentences for the murder. Although she insists she didn't know he was going to kill Cook and had nothing to do with the murder, she spent a total of 18 years in prisons in the UK for the crime.
In jail she became child killer Myra Hindley's hairdresser but tells Crime World how she hated her fellow lag. Behind bars she received marriage proposals from jailed Ronnie Kray and the notorious Charles Manson. She married and divorced her co-accused Daniel Reece, a convicted sex attacker, and just before her release caught the eye of one last man -the only one not involved in criminality.
Millionaire businessman George Caesar drove a Rolls Royce and fell for Linda the first time he saw her while she was on day release in 2008. When she got out of jail the pair married and, she says, had a loving relationship until he died in 2015 - leaving her a widow once again.
She recounts her incredible life story on this week's Crime World with Nicola Tallant.
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