Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Three years after the events of Little Girl Lost, John Blake has quit the detective game and gone back to school. When his friend Dorrie turns up dead in her bathtub, John puts his detective hat back on and goes looking for why Dorrie ended up dead. The trail takes up through New York's seedy underbelly of "massage" parlors and up against the Hungarian mob. Can Blake piece together what happened before he ends up dead too?
Ho. Lee. Crap. Songs of Innocence is the most powerful of the Hard Case Crime series I've read so far. Blake's desperation is a tangible thing. The mystery of what happened to Dorrie gets worse and worse, as does John's situation. I didn't see the end coming until it hit me like a freight train. The characters are well done. Not only Blake, but the supporting cast as well. It would have been easy to make the other masseuses into stereotype sluts but Aleas didn't skimp.
Like I've said before, I was prepared to dismiss Richard Aleas (aka Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case) as a pretender but the man has made a believer out of me. You can definitely tell that the Hard Case Crime series is a labor of love for him.
If you're itching for a good crime story, Songs of Innocence fits the bill. You might want to pick up Little Girl Lost first, though, for a little more background on Blake and Susan.
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