Soul Murder by Daniel Blake

Published by Harper

Daniel Blake is a man of mystery, both in his life and in his fiction. His work in the past for Control Risks, dealing with kidnap negotiation amongst other things, is presumably what lead to the fact that when he speaks about his first novel online his eyes are obscured by a black bar.

It was rumoured he might be at last year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and I was on the lookout for this mystery author, but it transpired that he wasn’t in attendance (or was he?).

If it’s possible for Daniel to step out from his hiding place, it would be a good thing. This debut crime novel, weighing in at over 550 pages of tightly woven plotting, is reason enough that he should step forward, even if briefly before ducking back into the shadows, to take a bow.

I loved this book.

It is full of rounded, and in most cases, likeable characters – most of which I’d like to read again in future books if this is to be first of series.

The duo of Pittsburgh Detectives, Franco Patrese and Mark Beradino were written in a way that after just a few chapters I felt that I’d known them for a lot longer, a sign of good characterisation and mannerisms being captured very early on.

Pittsburgh provides a great setting and, if I can say so without it sounding too cliché, a great character in itself. Was nice to have Pittsburgh as backdrop to something other than the living dead for a change.

The plot is very involved and gripping, from the initial murders and potential killers through to a range of interesting subplots and other themes, so many in fact that I feared that the author would struggle to tie everything up satisfactorily by the end of the novel. But, he does so, even adding a few extra twists towards the end which I had little clue were coming.

The subjects tackled are all carefully trodden, from a woman who may have been responsible for the death of three of her babies to medical negligence, religious abuse and Muslim terrorist plots – and the story could easily have taken any one of its strong story strands through to the end of a good book.

Instead, Blake chooses to take them all, grasp them tightly and run with all of them through to the end of a very satisfying and gripping crime thriller debut.

A great read.

Keith

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