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Songs of Innocence Mass Market Paperback – 1601

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Mass Market Paperback, 1601
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime (1601)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843957735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843957730
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 14.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #972,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d0ad204) out of 5 stars 49 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d8143e4) out of 5 stars An stunning achievement Sept. 4 2007
By Craig Clarke - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d8143f0) out of 5 stars The last page saves this book Sept. 9 2007
By clifford - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d813f3c) out of 5 stars Noir At Its Best Jan. 1 2008
By Jerry D. Rhoades - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d816660) out of 5 stars Well Done, Mr. Aleas! Sept. 30 2007
By Peter LoRicco - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d813fcc) out of 5 stars Songs of Darkness July 1 2008
By Daniel J. Connelly - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

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