Songs of Innocence Review
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Three years after a case left one woman dead and another one fighting for her life, former detective John Blake still lives with the guilt. After walking away from his job as a detective, he took an administrative job at Columbia University and started taking a few classes—in an attempt to figure out what to do next. He thought he’d investigated his last case—but now he’s got another mystery to solve.

John met Dorrie Burke in a creative writing class—and they instantly became friends. Both were living with painful secrets, but they found they could trust each other.

But now Dorrie’s dead. The police have ruled it a suicide, but John knows they’re wrong. Someone in Dorrie’s life—her other, secret, life—obviously wanted her dead. And he’s determined to find the person who’s responsible for his friend’s death. The search takes him to some of the darkest, most dangerous parts of New York City—and, before long, John finds himself in a race to find Dorrie’s killer before the police (or, worse, a blood-thirsty thug named Miklos) find him.

Songs of Innocence may take place in present-day New York, but—cell phones and computers aside—it still feels like classic noir. Aleas does an excellent job of giving it the dark, dismal atmosphere found in old pulp novels. He tells a gritty story with solid characters—like the beautiful young woman who leads a double life and the flawed protagonist with a dark past. In fact, there’s something so classic about it that, when you read it, you can’t help but picture the story unfolding in crisp black-and-white, with Blake walking down dark, foggy streets (maybe even wearing a hat and a long trench coat).

The story may not move at a fast pace, but it’s thick with suspense, which constantly builds with each new discovery that John makes—and with each new dead-end that he reaches. Just when you think you have it figured out, the story takes another turn. Blake is a fascinating character, obsessed with his own guilt and trying to do the right thing for once. And the story is captivating—though, in true noir fashion, heavy and grim and a little bit seedy—right up to the chilling shocker of a conclusion.

Songs of Innocence is a crime novel with an end that you won’t soon forget. Fans of classic detective novels will want to check out this modern twist on classic pulp fiction.

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