Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Gary Hayne’s stellar novel The Blameless Dead. Part WWII fiction, part psychological crime thriller this multi-viewpoint mosaic is the best of both worlds. If you like dark and twisty and playing puzzle master as you read, this baby is sure to please.
Title: Death Before Coffee
Author: Desmond P. Ryan
Publisher: Copper Press Publishing
Publication Date: February 8, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Human Trafficking, Crime
My Rating: 4/ 5
In the dying days of World War Two, Pavel Romasko and his Red Army colleagues pick their way through the carnage and detritus of a dying Berlin. Stumbling upon the smoking remains of a Nazi bunker, they find something inside that eclipses the horror of even the worst excesses in the city above them…
As the war ends, retribution begins. But some revenge cannot be taken at once. Some revenge takes years.
And so it is, as post-war Europe tries desperately to drag itself back onto its feet, and soldiers attempt a return to normality, that retribution continues to ferment in the Gulags of the Soviet Union and beneath the surface of apparently ordinary lives.
Which is how, seventy years later, FBI agent Carla Romero and New York lawyer Gabriel Hall are enlisted to investigate a series of blood-chilling crimes that seem to have their roots in the distant past — even though the suffering they cause is all too present. And for one of them, the disappearance of young women is a particularly personal matter.
The Blameless Dead is an epic, compelling, edge-of-the-seat drama that sweeps the reader from twentieth century Europe to modern-day New York, taking in some of the most important events of modern history and exposing them in honest and unflinching terms. Part murder-mystery, part historical novel and shot through with adrenaline-pumping action, this novel superbly demonstrates that, while the hostilities may cease and the peace be signed, the horror that is war is never really over.
I first took part in the cover reveal for this baby back in November because I was absolutely in love with the blurb, so you can imagine my delight when I was able to get my hands on the galley. And let me tell you this, the reality of the narrative far exceeded my expectations! I mean, some twisty WWII fiction packaged together with a seriously messed up modern serial killer in a riveting investigative procedural – ooft! Amazing.
Keep in mind though, this is not the type of book that can be readily enjoyed by the detached or casual reader. Rather, the variety of viewpoints and span of settings and times, demands a master puzzler to keep track of the crucial yet disparate goings-on. And given that none of the characters are inclined to share information with one another, it falls on the reader to pull the threads together and make sense of how each piece fits together. If you’re paying attention the ending can be sussed out to great satisfaction. But don’t get too cocky about those sleuthing skills, because there are some twists and turns that simply can be predicted.
Packed with a cast of uniquely individual characters, I was surprised to find myself attaching to more than one, including our eventual bad-guy. I found myself trapped in the cycle of grief with Gabriel as he mourns the loss of his niece, raging with Kazapov as he seeks justice for the atrocities committed against his family, and feeling excited and empowered as Carla engages fully with her investigation. Each of them are loaded with secrets from the past, a toast of idiosyncrasies, and an unpredictable nature.
Now throw in a foreign hitman with a few sadistic tendencies and a criminal network rooted in society’s underbelly, and there’s simply no guessing which character is going to be the next to die. At one point I felt like Mr. Martin took over and was dealing out deaths just to keep you from getting too attached. But seriously though, while some of the events certainly seemed cruel and senseless, they all adhered to a certain criminal logic and were not without purpose.
This book isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be difficult and uncomfortable, and it deals with both the atrocities of war and the lasting effects that being involved in such events can have on the human psyche. Torture and psychotic tendencies aside though, The Blameless Dead is exceptionally well written and undeniably gripping.
Would I recommend this book? Without a question! Although if you’re like me I might suggest breaking out the notepad and paper, as Haynes will certainly put your attention to detail to the test. Gritty, brutal and undeniably powerful The Blameless Dead will hook you from the first page.
About The Author
Bestselling Thriller/Crime novelist published by HarperCollins/Endeavour Quill. Gary Haynes studied law at university before becoming a commercial litigator. He is interested in history, philosophy and international relations. When he’s not writing or reading, he enjoys watching European films, travelling, hillwalking and spending time with his family. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization.
You can contact Gary via his website and social media sites.
Many thanks to Hannah Groves at Endeavour Media for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.