Richard Aleas' first novel, Little Girl Lost, was published by Five Star in hardcover and then became one of the first books released by Hard Case Crime. I was one of the earliest readers of the book and knew it was a good one before it was even published. Little did I realize that Aleas, who's really Charles Ardai, would go on to beat me out for the Edgar for best short story only a few short years later. But I digress. I'm here to talk about Songs of Innocence, the second book to feature John Blake, the p.i. whose experiences in Little Girl Lost were so shattering that he gave up investigating and went back to school. Maybe he thought he'd be safe there. Boy, was he wrong.
A student named Dorrie Burke commits suicide. She was Blake's close friend, and she was working her way though school giving full body massages. Neither Blake nor Burke's mother believes she killed herself, but when the mother tries to hire Blake to investigate the death, he sends her to an agency, not telling her that he's already looking into things on his own.
That's enough about the plot. This book is very well written, as you'd expect from an Edgar winner, and the prose will carry you right along. I'd suggest you not read it when you're in a dark mood, though, because however dark you think your mood is, this book is darker. How dark is it? If you want to know the answer to that one, you'll have to read read the book. After you read the last sentence you might want to go back and read the first one again, that is, if you've forgotten what the first one was.
Do I recommend that you read Songs of Innocence? Absolutely. Great stuff. Check it out.