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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Songs of Innocence

Richard Aleas

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To purchase Songs of Innocence

Title: Songs of Innocence
Author: Richard Aleas
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 258 pages
Availability: Songs of Innocence - US
Songs of Innocence - UK
Songs of Innocence - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B+ : pitch-black noir

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Observer . 23/7/2007 Adam Begley
The Washington Post A 16/7/2007 Patrick Anderson

  From the Reviews:
  • "Richard Aleasí Songs of Innocence is smart and snappy as good pulp has to be -- and whatís more, itís a thoroughly New York novel." - Adam Begley, The New York Observer

  • "Little Girl Lost deserved the acclaim it received, but Songs of Innocence (the ironic title is borrowed from the poet William Blake, as is the hero's surname) is a huge step forward. Its plot is more focused, its writing more evocative, and its devastating final scenes elevate the novel to an instant classic. The new novel, more than the first one, is pure noir. (...) The painful climax of this novel, as unexpected as it is powerful, will move you in ways that crime fiction rarely can. Noir is not for everyone: not for healthy minds, some might say. But if you admire popular fiction at its darkest, don't miss Songs of Innocence." - Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       For a while young John Blake worked as a New York private investigator, but the case of Little Girl Lost really got to him, and he's now settled down in what should be a harmless, quiet job, an administrative assistant in Columbia University's writing programme. One of the reasons he took the job was because one of the perks is that he can take classes at the university for free, and one of the classes he took was in 'Creative Nonfiction'.
       Blake got close to one of his classmates, Dorrie Burke, but Dorrie turns up dead, an apparent suicide and Blake has to get to the bottom of that. Dorrie's mother thinks it was murder and wants to hire Blake; Blake is sure someone else was responsible too, but he needs to look into it on his own -- and he wants to conceal some of Dorrie's secrets from her mom. Like the fact that she earned her money by offering fairly intimate massages.
       Yes, Blake again finds himself immersed in the seedy world of New York's sex trade, and in particular the flexible offerings of its massage parlours -- and the lengths to which some of the owners of these places will go to make sure customers don't follow 'masseuses' away from the establishment when they set up their own.
       Blake plunges headlong onto the trail, and enough pieces soon fit into place for him to confront the biggest, baddest man in town. It's not a confrontation that goes well or clears enough up; worse, the man Blake accuses leaves a little thank-you gift for the talk for the would-be P.I. at his apartment, leaving Blake on the run from the authorities as well.
       The downward spiral of ever-increasing desperation continues, Blake not worried about the consequences as he single-mindedly follows his obsession, just a half-step ahead of everyone who is after him. He does get some help, but there's only so much anyone can do for him and soon enough he's hitching rides in the back of a hearse .....
       What was sordid and frenzied takes one final turn to the deepest black as he faces the abyss in the resolution. Dorrie was a troubled girl and Blake was privy to much of what weighed on her mind and soul, but even he didn't know everything. He learns it at the end, and it is a mighty, mighty blow -- making for a turn that is dark even for a noir.
       The thrill-elements of Songs of Innocence, and the sex-scene exposé, are solid if unexceptional noir, but Aleas does the human element very well; some of the bad guys may be almost caricatures, but the rest are well-presented, especially Blake and Dorrie. And in willing to go all the way, to see the story through to its very bitter end, the book does more than most crime and thriller fiction dares, making for a nice, hard, gut-wrenching hit at the end.

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Songs of Innocence: Reviews: Richard Aleas (Charles Ardai):
  • Profile in Columbia College Today
Other books by Richard Aleas (Charles Ardai) under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Richard Aleas is actually Charles Ardai.

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© 2008 the complete review

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