A little change of pace, here's a review of a book you should definitely, definitely purchase immediately.
Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin is an extremely good read. It is also extremely hard to categorize. It defies categorization. This is one of its many strengths. It is a detective novel. It is a mystery. It skirts the edges of gothic horror. Some of it is written (brilliantly) in verse. It is dark. It has depth. It gives a nod to Noir. It is so well-wrought and complex that it is almost like two novels in one.
Did I mention that it is dark? So dark that parts of it are hard to stomach, but it is well worth the trip into hell. The prose is beautifully written. Godwin certainly knows what he is doing. The story is tight, with enough twists and angst to satisfy the most critical ‘crime novel’ fan. It is a book that will stick with you. The beauty of the words resonate long after you have read the last page. And the darkness will tug at you, reminding you that the world is full of lots of different kinds of people. And some of them are intensely frightening.
Our protagonist is Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle. He is of the old school…the kind of cliché we love so much he’s not a cliché, but an archetype. He drinks too much (whiskey of course). He is incapable of feeling joy. He is, in fact, haunted by a string of murders that almost drove him insane (the ‘almost’ is questionable). The Woodlands Killer nearly drove him mad, but he hung on, only to find himself up to his eyeballs, years later, in copycat killings that are so much like the old cases that it would make any hardboiled detective dive into the bottle.
Castle is aided by his partner DI Jacki Stone, a tough woman who is faced with the toughest case of her career. Meanwhile her marriage is falling apart due to the stresses of her work and her inability to leave it at the office.
And then there is Karl Black, a sociopathic, religiously obsessed manipulator who played a large role in driving Castle insane with the original investigation and gets Stone in on the act with the new one. He is a fantastic character. He is evil, yet his charm (and his ability to get under the skin of Castle and Stone) make him a pleasure to visit.
There are more characters of course, and they are well rendered and interesting, but I don’t want to give too much away. So, we have our cast of characters. And we have death. Dead hookers and dead politicians, brutally murdered by…who? Some of the murders match the MO of the Woodlands killings. Some don’t. Some are clearly biblical taunts. Some are attacks at the establishment and political corruption. All are vivid and terrifying. London is literally covered in corpses. (A personal note here: I am often accused of writing ‘Dark’ fiction…Godwin’s murder scenes are enough to make the darkest thing I have ever written piss itself and run in fear. This is not a critique. It is worth noting, though. The murder scenes are so vivid and real that you might not want to read them if you are alone in the house.)
The genius of this book is that Godwin plays with so many forms (and with such a light touch), that it defies cliché in what can easily become a clichéd form. Crime novels can enter the realm of cliché very easily. This one never does. Godwin is undeniably well informed about religion, compulsion, corruption, and delusion, and the way he weaves them all together is truly impressive.
There are people who read books and want to figure out “who dun it”. I am not that kind of reader. I like to be surprised. But, even if I was that type of reader, I would have been shocked at the eerily twisted conclusion to this novel.
If you like crime novels, you will like Apostle Rising. If you like horror novels, you will like Apostle Rising. If you are interested in religion and human psychology, you will like Apostle Rising. Hell, if you like well written books, you will like this one. Godwin is a gifted writer who knows his craft, knows when to play the right cards, and he will get inside your head…just like Karl Black.
Author Bio: Richard Godwin is a widely published crime and horror writer, whose work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including recently Pulp Ink. Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer is crucifying politicians and recreating the murder scenes of an unsolved case, is his first published novel. It has received excellent reviews and is under offer for two foreign rights acquisitions. You can find out more about the author at his website: http://www.richardgodwin.net/. His Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse are popular interviews he conducts with other writers: http://www.richardgodwin.net/blog.