By K. Robert Einarson

In the Edgar and Shamus nominated "Little Girl Lost", we were introduced to PI John Blake. In the three years since the terrible events of that book, John Blake has given up on being a PI and joined Columbia University as an Administrative Assistant. He was slowing rebuilding his life when he discovers a woman he was involved with has died from an apparent suicide. But the secrets he knows about her convinces him it has to be murder. So he begins his own investigation and in the process finds himself deep in the dark world of New York's sex trade and getting the attention of some very dangerous men.

Richard Aleas (AKA Charles Ardai, co-founder of Hard Case Crime) has a style very reticent of the pulps that his company republishes but has a fresh contemporary feel. He crafts very believable and detailed characters that enhance the story and his dialog is both realistic and feels authentic to the characters.

Aleas also shows his fondness for the work of William Blake with the names of both of his books coming from titles of Blake poems and excerpts from Blake's poetry at the beginning of each part.

A skilled writer crafts a story like a puzzle. As we see each piece, we know it fits into the puzzle and we add it to the developing picture but we can't see enough to know what it is. But once we get that critical piece, then the picture becomes clear. And all of the pieces we thought were just the background are in reality the details that defined the picture. Aleas did that with this book.

The storytelling is tight and the plot moves quickly with a slow boil tension that builds right up to the shocking conclusion.

I strongly recommend this book at any reader or writer who loves this genre. It is an outstanding work that shows his prior award nominations were richly deserved. I feel confident we will see another nomination for Aleas soon.

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