I read Candice Fox’s second book, Eden, before reading her well-received debut novel Hades. Everyone I’ve met who’d read Hades RAVES about it. As I’ve mentioned before I’m loath to read Australian crime fiction / mysteries / thrillers so continued to avoid it until the opportunity to preview Eden presented itself.
In my review I said I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Eden – particularly the characters – and I was intrigued. ‘Some’ backstory was shared but I wanted to know more. Interestingly Eden (the book) was all about Hades (the father). So I wondered if Hades (the book) was all about Eden (the daughter) – which it was.
And now that I’ve devoured Hades in one bathtub sitting I’m all caught up on the family’s history.
Heinrich Archer (Hades) – was / is the crime-world’s go-to man if they want something to disappear. He has an unpleasant reputation and no one dares cross him.
So even he’s surprised when he takes in two young children and raises them as his own. The by-product of a kidnapping / ransom gone bad, the kidnappers beat the children and left them for dead. With Hades. And he’s not particularly happy. But before he knows it they’ve recovered, given themselves new names and are fitting into his world.
Eden and Eric are inseparable. But more than that, they’re ‘damaged’. Even Hades – with his violent history – finds himself a little horrified by the children’s lack of conscience. But he does what he can – and like Dexter’s father (in the TV show and books by Jeff Lindsey), he gives them a code of sorts.
Years later and both Eden and Eric are police detectives. Eden’s just been paired up with a new partner, Frank Bennett, after the death of her former partner. Frank notes Eden’s hot but pretty quickly realises she’s *ahem* different – cold, calculating and full of secrets.
Soon the pair (and their team) find themselves embroiled in the hunt for a serial killer who’s harvesting body parts. And their nemesis isn’t your typical psychopath… rather he’s smart and seemingly only motivated by the money he receives from black market organ donation. (As an aside, as someone who’s father received a donor heart I could easily ponder what one would be prepared to do (or have someone else do) to keep their loved one alive.)
One of the killer’s victims escapes and romance blossoms for twice-married and cynical Frank. Meanwhile we learn Eden and Eric are hunting down the men responsible for the botched kidnapping which led to the death of their parents many years earlier.
Again the strength of this book is very much in its characters. I loved this insight into Eden and Eric – as children and now as adults. If there’s any weakness in Fox’s work it’s in the ‘crimes’ themselves. In Eden the case involving the disappearing women felt a bit underdone. Far more interesting was the case involving the missing person from Hades’ past. And here, I didn’t feel the killer was particularly well-developed. I had no insight into them or their motivations and their final targets (I can’t say too much!) really didn’t make any sense.
However, I’m also conscious that Hades is Candice Fox’s debut novel and I’m sure she’ll continue fine-tuning her craft when it comes to developing complex crime fiction and – like Eden – the unfolding story of the characters (Eden, Eric and Frank) was what really had me eagerly turning page after page.
Hades by Candice Fox will be published by Kensington Books in late January 2015. It is already available in Australia.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.