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18 December 2013

Candice Fox: Hades

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Amazing, chilling, violent and emotionally challenging first novel
WOW, what an amazing first novel. I am emotionally flogged by the pace of the action, the violence, the body count and episodes of pure fear. With that background it is hard to say I enjoyed the ride but it will certainly stand out in my memory as one of the most unusual, outstanding and memorable crime thrillers I have read in the last 12 months.

Hades Archer is the man they call the Lord of the Underworld. He lives in a junkyard  in Sydney that contains twisted sculptures he has created from scrap. He will arrange to dispose of anything, including bodies - for a fee. Even Hades decides draw the line when someone wants him to dispose of two small bodies - who are still alive. Hades actions will affect many for years to come.

Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. Her brother, Eric, is also in the homicide squad and immediately makes it clear that he has real problems with anyone chosen to be Eden's partner. While they are experienced detectives, it is soon clear to Frank that there is something very unusual about Eden and Eric.

While investigating the attempted drowning of a drug addict the homicide squad don't believe his story about a cache of large toolboxes on the floor of the harbour until the divers bring up the boxes and the bodies they contain.  Hilary Mantel wrote a classic book called "Bring up the Bodies". Candice Fox could have easily given the same title to this book.

Frank and Eden are now looking for an unusual serial killer who kills to keep others living. While the body count keeps climbing Frank is faced with two challenges, to find out the dark secrets that power Eden and Eric, and to protect a potential victim of the serial killer.

This book is not for the faint hearted (an example - Hades observed "An adult body needed a long tooth saw"). It paces you through an emotionally charged, violent and bloody environment from the very start to a stunning climax. It is dark, compelling and very original crime fiction written by an author with a bright future. I totally agree with the book description that Hades is the debut of a stunning new talent in crime fiction. It only seems to be listed for release in Australia and New Zealand and definitely deserves a wider audience.

Candice Fox tells us on her website that she has a multi-book contract and she is close to completing her next book "Eden". While I look forward to that book I hope that the publishers will give me time to recover from this one.

My thanks to Random House and The Reading Room for providing an advanced copy of this book.

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