Customer Reviews


31 Reviews
5 star:
 (21)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An stunning achievement
Three years after private investigator John Blake solved the murder of his one-time ex-girlfriend-turned-stripper, he has retired from the business -- it simply took too much out of him. But when his close friend Dorrie Burke is found dead in her bathtub with a copy of Final Exit, and the police automatically rule it a suicide, Blake knows it must be murder. Because they...
Published on September 4, 2007 by Craig Clarke

versus
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The last page saves this book
I read Aleas' two books back to back. I really enjoyed Little Girl Lost, his first, and then was more than mildly disappointed by 'Songs of Innocence.' First of all, the whole story is awkwardly conceived. To fully understand what I am talking about you will have to have read both of the books. If you have, you cant help but notice that Aleas pretty much lifts the plot...
Published on September 9, 2007 by clifford


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An stunning achievement, September 4, 2007
Three years after private investigator John Blake solved the murder of his one-time ex-girlfriend-turned-stripper, he has retired from the business -- it simply took too much out of him. But when his close friend Dorrie Burke is found dead in her bathtub with a copy of Final Exit, and the police automatically rule it a suicide, Blake knows it must be murder. Because they had told each other that, if either felt that low, he or she would call the other and they would work through it together.

But when Dorrie's mother tries to hire him to find her daughter's killer, he refuses because he doesn't do that any more. Well, at least not for pay, as we soon find out when Blake throws himself into the New York underworld with the dedication and dumb courage of a man with nothing left to lose.

Reportedly, it took author Richard Aleas (an anagrammatic pseudonym of recent Edgar Allan Poe Award-winner, Charles Ardai) two months to write the first John Blake mystery, Little Girl Lost, and three years to complete its sequel, Songs of Innocence. (Incidentally, both are named after individual works by the main character's namesake, poet William Blake.)

Aleas's first novel was also one of the first released by then-upstart publisher Hard Case Crime (co-founded by Ardai). It didn't win the awards garnered by some of its fellows (though it was nominated for several), but it has stood the test of time better than most, and is now remembered as one of the best because, in addition to terrifically recapturing the detective novels of the past, it also embraces the present.

And it has something that others were missing -- a heart. Despite its flaws, Little Girl Lost was a fantastic read, and its deeply emotional center is what I believe has made it still the favorite of many of the publisher's multitude of dedicated followers. I really enjoyed it, too. It was a solid first novel (with a real grabber of an opening chapter), but it remained very much a debut work, with all the influences and framework still evident. But, even if you thought it was the best book you had ever read (and many did), you would have no basis for thinking that Songs of Innocence would be exponentially better.

But with this book, Aleas has really come into his own. Songs of Innocence has deeper characterizations, a more complex plot, an even more involving storyline, a darker tone, and a much greater feeling of originality, especially in the multi-layered way Aleas sets up the story. Top all this off with a completely unexpected shocker of an ending that will emotionally devastate those readers who allow themselves to get swept up by this wholly remarkable story, and the difference between the two books is huge -- it's like comparing the work of a first-year architecture student to that of Frank Lloyd Wright. It's a stunning achievement, and Aleas will be hard pressed to follow it up with an even better work -- but I'd love to watch him try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noir At Its Best, January 1, 2008
By 
Wow. Just wow. This is one of the best books I've read in the past year. it's about as dark as noir gets, beautifully written, with a gut-wrenching ending. This is the kind of book I start pressing on strangers in the street until they call the cops.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The last page saves this book, September 9, 2007
I read Aleas' two books back to back. I really enjoyed Little Girl Lost, his first, and then was more than mildly disappointed by 'Songs of Innocence.' First of all, the whole story is awkwardly conceived. To fully understand what I am talking about you will have to have read both of the books. If you have, you cant help but notice that Aleas pretty much lifts the plot from his first story and re-uses it here. John Blake's love is found dead by himself and he tries to find out who killed her. Not only has this sap now had two of his women knocked off, but its left up to him to uncover what happened because no one else will give a damn. Coincidentally, both of his girl friends also led shady lives as adult entertainment practitioners. This fact brings Blake into contact with a host of dirty underworld figures.

Too much happenstance occurs here. Blake does not often detect, but events just happen to fall into his lap. The entire plot is crudely pieced together. The saving graces here are (A) the writing, and (B) the ending. Aleas is a gifted enough writer to stick around for as long as he wants. His stories are rich in mood and atmosphere. The ending is of the 'Dog Eat Dog' variety, unexpected and shockingly satisfying.

I hope that Aleas continues to try his hand at fictional writing. I look forwards to following his development as an author. However I would say that you would be better off staying away from this book. This is no where near as fun to read as 'Little Girl Lost' and the only reason I am bumping it up to three stars is the very good end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done, Mr. Aleas!, September 30, 2007
I'm fairly new to the Hard Case Crime series and was less than enamored with recent books like "The Vengeful Virgin" and "The Wounded And The Slain" HOWEVER, "Songs Of Innocence" completely blew me away! Without divulging too much information, I have to say that by the end of the book, I felt as though the floor had been ripped out from under me. I was heartbroken, physically shaken, and thoroughly satisfied at having embarked on John Blake's fictional journey. Through all of its twists and turns, stick with "Songs Of Innocence" till the end. You'll be glad you did...even if by that time you're not sure weather you want to cry or write Richard Aleas demanding a sequel! Well done, Mr. Aleas, well done, indeed!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs of Darkness, July 1, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Songs of Innocence is perhaps the most striking "mystery" novel I've ever read. It's obvious from the open paragraphs that Aleas (Adai) has developed his style: darker, more introspective. From there, the novel begins its accelerating descent into darkness, as much tragedy as mystery, flirting a bit with absurdity as the story progresses, but moving through that, gathering momentum for the finale, a finale which has haunted me for the several days since I read it. Wow.

I'm a big fan of Michael Connelly, but after reading Songs of Innocence, Connelly is going to seem light & fluffy in comparison. I wish I had another Aleas to read. Instead, I'm moving on to sample some of the other authors in the Hard Crimes series.

I view a "4-star" rating as an excellent book, "5-star" as worthy of teaching in a class on the genre. There's some serious "grade inflation" in Amazon reviews, an inflation I try to resist. But by any such standard, this one gets 5.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern crime noir, July 6, 2007
By 
Elderkin (Rockville, MD) - See all my reviews
This latest offering from Hard Case Crime is one of the best in the series so far. Unlike many of the Hard Case Crime stories, "Songs of Innocence" is a modern story, not a reprint or lost edition of a story from the 50's or 60's. The current day setting is a welcome change. Rather than chain smoking, scotch and broads you get cell phones, lap tops and Korean massage parlors. That aside, the story is as good as any in the series. The action is fast paced and violent, with the underground sex scene thrown in for good measure. The body count keeps rising right to the very end and I think the ending will astound most every reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Songs of Innocence, December 2, 2013
This review is from: Songs of Innocence (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
Songs of Innocence is the second novel by Richard Aleas, the pen name of Charles Ardai, who is the founder and editor of Hard Case Crime. Ardai has also worked as a writer and producer for the tv show Haven. This book is paired with his earlier work, Little Girl Lost, although it is not necessary to read the first one before diving into this one. They are both great books and I highly recommend both for your reading enjoyment.

What is unique and different about these books in the crime fiction universe is that the protagonist of both books (meaning the main character) is not some tough, cynical, hard-boiled detective who wins nearly every fight, sweet talks every woman he meets, and has a clever quip ready for any occasion. Instead, Ardai chose to center his work around a soft-boiled center. The lead character, John Blake, is a Peter Parker type for those of you familiar with Spiderman. In other words, Blake is the superhero or super-detective's mild-manner alter ego. Blake is someone who looks young for his age. At 21, he looked 16 and, at 24, he looked 18. He appears to be an innocent hayseed from Nebraska or Iowa and isn't tough. It appears that using Blake as the hero of the story was a very conscious choice on the part of Ardai and Blake gives these stories a strong emotional center and moral focus.

In Little Girl Lost, Blake was a college dropout who joined an older retired police officer in a small insignificant detective agency. He chased down demons and ghosts of his past in that one. Songs of Innocence begins three years later. After the events of Little Girl Lost, Blake is disillusioned with the detective business and heartbroken. He returns to college and is a teaching assistant in a writing program. He has one close friend in the writing program: Dorrie. Dorrie is tall and so beautiful that every head turns as she walks by. As Ardai describes her, "she entered a classroom as if there was a curtain at one end and a row of photographers popping flashbulbs at the other. It wasn't something she did deliberately, but she did it nonetheless, and the rest of us all turned and watched as she found her way to an empty chair, . . ." "She was beautiful," he explains, "in a way you're accustomed to seeing on movie posters or the pages of a magazine but not in real life." "[Y]ou couldn't stop looking at her," he said.

John and Dorrie are practically inseparable. John also knows Dorrie's secret: that she moonlights from the writing program doing massages and other "tricks" for Johns. It pay her college tuition.

It is Blake who finds Dorrie's body in her bathtub, plastic bag pulled tight over her head and suicide book nearby. By pre-arrangement, he scours her apartment for things that her mother wouldn't be comfortable knowing about, i.e., all the outfits Dorrie used in her work and her computer. He also notices that her calendar and papers have all been shredded. After accessing her computer, he finds that someone erased all her e-mail. Dorrie's mother doesn't believe it was a suicide although how someone got in the locked apartment does not compute. John also realizes that things don't make sense and recalls that he and Dorrie had a pact that, if they ever had suicidal thoughts, they would call the other first and talk it out.

The investigation takes John into the underworld of massage parlors and Asian bathhouses. It pits him against Hungarian gangsters and chased into dark corners where only rats cold be found. John desperately tries to solve the mystery as a statewide manhunt ensues for him and the newspapers all shout headlines accusing him of vicious murder after vicious murder.

It's a quick read and hard to put down. Along the way, the reader sees innocence stripped from people as they feel forced to react to the events that occur. Although this takes place in the modern world of cell phones and computers, it is every bit as compelling as many classic noir tales. The darkness and despair can be felt throughout this book. I can't remember if the sun ever shined.

Read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars None, April 25, 2012
An absolute page turner with an ending you don't see coming! First book I ever took time to review & starting with Nancy Drew at the age of 10 & after 40 years of reading every mystery genre - well this is worth staying up until dawn to finish - wished I'd have started reading earlier in the day.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done, April 2, 2009
I have read quite a number of the Hard Case Crime novels and this particular story ranks among the best of the best. It's one of those books that is worth reading completely just so you can fully experience, and appreciate the phenomenal twist at the end. If you're a fan of the genre then don't hesitate to pick this gem up!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Disturbing, December 26, 2008
A lot has been said about this particular book. People have hashed out the plot as much as possible. So, I will not bore you with another reading of the book jacket. What I will tell you about is the parts of the book that hooked me in.

I really enjoyed the writing style that Aleas used. It is classic hard-boiled grit. Yet, it doesn't seem to be ripping off any particular author. Aleas displays a voice that is his yet true to tradition. For that I must applaud his efforts in this book.

Aleas creates a very sympathetic main character. Here is a guy that could easily be somebody you know. He is a college dropout; he is still reeling from the loss of an ex-girlfriend: and he is trying to deal with the consequences of his actions afterwards. Understandably he finds himself drawn to another woman that must be saved from her demons. We have all known a guy like that, or been a guy like that. So that makes the story much more compelling.

What makes the story so hard to put down is the voyeuristic look in to the main character's mental state. It is similar to watching an impending car crash. You know you should look away but something compels you too watch. Page after page the descent picks up speed until it reaches terminal velocity.

When I first read the story it reminded me of "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman, and the disturbing tone it carried.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Songs of Innocence (Hard Case Crime)
Songs of Innocence (Hard Case Crime) by Richard Aleas (Mass Market Paperback - March 29, 2011)
$6.99 $6.29
Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.