“One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.
Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.
A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”
When I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it. Not only is the author, Mark Hill, a brilliant book blogger (well, once upon a time before he wrote a cracking novel!) but oh my gosh, THAT blurb! That blurb feels like it was written for me. There was also a fabulous .gif doing the rounds, which caught my eye too (I do love a .gif). I felt this book was destined for my TBR.
DI Ray Drake’s past is coming back to haunt him. People he knew as a child are being horrifically killed along with their partners and children. It can’t be something to do with Ray though, can it? Whilst investigating the murder of ex-associate, Kenny, it comes to light that he was in the process of writing his memoirs, an exposé of his time at the ill fated Longacre children’s home. DI Drake is only supervising the case though, newly promoted DS Flick Crowley is in charge and Ray is determined that his secret will never see the light of day. And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes…
From the opening chapters you feel that there is something….amiss about DI Ray Drake. There is no reason to dislike this man but you can feel he has deeply buried secrets and boy, you want to know what they are! He gets under your skin. Then he starts to behave inappropriately for a DI and your brain goes into overdrive; ‘what is going on with this fella?’ you find yourself asking. He is a brilliantly written character and I take my hat off to Mark Hill. I became quite obsessed with trying to work out what was going on with Ray, what his thing was and maybe even a little obsessed with Ray, himself!
DS Flick Crowley didn’t have the same draw as DI Drake did for me. I liked her, and I can see her being a favourite of many other readers, but I think I was so totally smitten with DI Drake that Flick wasn’t really on my radar. I hope there is a second book as she may be one of those characters that, for me, needs time to grow and develop. There were two other characters in The Two O’Clock Boy who won my heart; Elliot and Connor. Connor is a complete enigma, the cool kid at the home who beats up the bullies but stands up and says I was wrong, when the moment requires. And the bully turned family man, Elliot. How I absolutely loved Elliot.
The plot is very clever. This book felt fresh to me; something different that I haven’t encountered before. There’s not a lot else I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers but just let me say that it’s quite an intricate storyline. I’m afraid I managed to work out who the killer was but it’s a habit of mine now to look for the killer (I really need to stop doing this and just enjoy the book!). It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book and to be honest, there are much bigger twists than the reveal of the killer for the reader to concentrate on.
Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would. In fact, this is a book that all crime fiction fans should read as it’s quite different to other detective novels. Not only do you have a cracking whodunit story but you also have a cast of brilliantly written characters that make reading this book a joy. I was so captivated with what Ray’s secret could be and oh my, it’s a corker! And to think this a debut – I can’t wait to see what else Mark Hill has in store for us.
Four and a half stars out of five.
I chose to read and review an ARC of The Two O’Clock Boy.
The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 22nd September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Sphere Books |
Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.