Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reviewing: "Songs Of Innocence: A John Blake Mystery"

Songs Of Innocence: A John Blake Mystery
By Richard Aleas
Hard Case Crime
July 2007
ISBN #978-0-8439-5773
256 Pages

A noir tale full of misdirection, violence and guilt begins with the death of Dorothy Louise Burke. Her very angry mother wants John Blake to find out who killed her daughter. Detective work isn't what he does anymore and he isn't what she expected to find at the small memorial service. When her pleas for help are rebuffed her hostility grows.

"'What's wrong with you?" She didn't wait for an answer, which was just as well because I didn't have one to give her.'" (Page 19, Chapter 1)

John Blake doesn't have many answers. It has been three years since the events depicted in the novel "Little Girl Lost" and he escaped/drifted into the writing program at Columbia. Paired with Dorothy (whom everyone else but Mom called Dorrie) for an assignment, the kindred souls full of pain and guilt bonded. A romance began and a pact was made only to be broken. With her death, an angry and driven John Blake begins both a public and a private hunt for answers.

What follows is a dark rich tale full of violence, vengeance and urban justice where nothing and no one is what they appear. In one reading, events of the first book were a long prelude that put John Blake right here at this time to not only deal with the present but to answer for the past. Justice can take a long time and it has been years. In another reading, John is just a domino, one of many in a long complex trail that forms a never ending line, tickled by the fickle finger of God.

However you interpret the book, there is no question that this is a powerfully good read as well as a disturbing one. Relentless in its pacing as it build steadily towards a conclusion that is both a surprise and inevitable this is a read that hooks the reader from the opening line,

"I was a private investigator once. But then we've all been things we aren't anymore." (Page 15, Chapter 1)

This sums up the entire novel in a sense where everything is two sides of the same coin. This novel is well worth your investment as is the first novel "Little Girl Lost."

Obviously, the novels should be read in order.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

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