Richard Aleas’ Songs Of Innocence is the follow-up to his 2003 Hard Case Crime novel, Little Girl Lost. The book is subtitled, “A John Blake Mystery” and features the return of the former P.I. with a penchant for trouble. The story picks up a year or so after the events of Little Girl Lost, with Blake’s troubled girlfriend found dead in her apartment, the victim of an apparent suicide attempt. But Blake doesn’t buy the official verdict on her death and launches his own investigation. Blake delves into the underbelly of the sex industry, where the girl, Dorrie Burke, worked as an exotic masseuse.
It isn’t long before Blake is in over his head, facing off against the evil and dangerous Hungarian crime lord, Ardo. Blake escapes the encounter with his life, but finds himself set up for murder as a consequence of crossing Ardo. Blake goes on the lam, still trying to solve Dorrie’s murder. But as the police close in and more bodies get attributed to him, he’s running out of time and not getting any closer to solving the puzzle.
Finally, all the pieces pop into place in what is seriously one of the sickest twist endings I’ve ever read. Sick, heartbreaking, and frustrating. You read along for 200 pages wondering just how the hell Blake is ever going to untangle himself from the web he traps himself in and then I sort of felt that Aleas copped out. Not in too terrible of a way. The ending is perfectly acceptable. But after the first major revelation at the end, I expected a lot more.
Still, well worth a read. This is a strong, disturbing crime novel that should not be missed by lovers of the genre.
ColuMn Rating: ★★★½