Hades by Candice Fox

22245474I read this book, Hades, by Candice Fox, a while ago now and, frankly, forgot to review it (My. Bad). Not because I didn’t like it – on the contrary, I thought it was an absolute cracker of a read and found it hard to tear myself away from. No, the reason I delayed was because I wanted to think about what to say but I thought so hard, I really thought I’d written a review and was quite shocked to discover I hadn’t. I am making up for that now.

Hades is such an accomplished novel – well written, tightly plotted with fascinating characters that are fifty shades of grey and then some. It’s hard to credit it’s a debut novel, but it is. For fans of the TV series (and books) Dexter, there are parallels to be drawn, but the story of tough, beautiful and mysterious cop, Eden Archer and her wise-cracking, over-protective dangerous cop brother, Eric, and how Eden’s new partner Frank Bennett tries to understand the dynamic between the two and the dark secrets they’re clearly keeping, offers many surprises and depths.

A great deal of that depth comes from the back story of Eden and Eric and their father, who gives his name to the title of the book, Hades. As underworld as his name suggests, Hades is a bad man with a bad past. But, he also believes in a criminal code of conduct and the honour that accompanies it and it’s this belief that sets the course (along with a major trauma) for Eden and Eric’s life in the future. Again, I know much of this also happened to Dexter, but I loved reading about a similar (but not the same) set of circumstances, set in Sydney and with all the tension and gotcha moments for which a crime-lover could ask.

The murders that set this tale in motion and introduce us to the main characters are grisly, as are the other killings that pepper the book as liberally as the blood that often flows. It’s not for the faint of heart. But Fox has a way with words, she can describe a mood, a street, a sound a smell in such a way that puts you, the reader, there in the moment. Sometimes, in a very uncomfortable way that has you screaming to be released.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t wait for the sequel.

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Book Review: Luther: The Calling, Neil Cross


I have never read a Neil Cross book before, but I have seen the brilliant television series, Luther, written by Cross and played by Idris Elba. It was fitting then that I read this book first as it’s the prequel to the TV series and was written with Idris’ characterisation of Luther firmly in Cross’ mind.

This story tells of the events that lead up to Luther’s suspension, break down and the dissolution of his relationship with his wife. Related in sparse, powerful prose, we watch Luther unravel as, caught up in a crime-spree terrorising London, which begins when a couple are brutally slain in their homes, he becomes obsessive about catching the sadistic killer.

Unable to sleep, tell his wife how he feels about her or even ask his boss, Teller, for a holiday, Luther determines to catch the man who calls himself Peter Black before he can offend again.

Each step Luther takes, each decision he makes, the intensity of his mood and reactions, are captured there on the page, as is the viciousness of the crimes. While they’re not laboriously detailed, the murders and kidnappings are graphically described. The human deaths and injuries are hard enough to deal with, but there’s one against a dog that I simply could not read. My eyes skipped the page, I physically reacted to what I knew was happening and had a visceral response.

Cross is adept at exploring, in pared back language, the mind of not only killers but the brutes who roam our streets and demonstrating what it’s like to lack a conscience or, worse, to be convinced that what you’re doing isn’t wrong. Giving us insight into these people’s heads means we are given insight into what motivates them, glean an understanding of what constitutes evil – either through action or because they don’t know how to do or be anything else. It’s a difficult journey Cross takes us on, but one worth embarking upon. We vacillate between being appalled and more appalled, much like Luther. By the end of the book, you feel as if you’ve participated in an emotional and psychological marathon. It’s exhausting but in that strange way that even dark books can be, so worthwhile.

Though I knew the ending (fans of the TV series will, as the season one begins where this book leaves off), it didn’t spoil the tale. On the contrary it enriched the reading experience as there’s something gratifying and enormously interesting about discovering how a writer reaches a certain point, how she or she arcs the story, plots it out and develops the characters in order to reach that specific place – the intersection between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Cross is a master. Luther a masterpiece. A brilliant book but not for the feint-hearted.

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