Zaffre | 2018 (20 September) | 432p | Review copy | Buy the book
Day one is about to dawn on lawyer Charlie Priest’s big new case. It’s caught the attention of the media and the general public and it’s not surprising. Priest’s team is defending the small, independent magazine First Byte against the Elias Children’s Foundation, a massive charity that the First Byte has accused of channelling some of its money into terrorist organisations, with the full knowledge and cooperation of its CEO Alexia Elias.
Priest has a card up its sleeve, the testimony of ex-charity worker Simeon Ali, but when Simeon fails to turn up in court on the first day, Charlie Priest begins to worry. And then the murders begin…
The Ash Doll is the second novel by James Hazel to feature lawyer Charlie Priest and his team. The series began with the extraordinary and marvellous The Mayfly, a book that made me instantly fall for Charlie and, most of all, his assistant Georgie Someday. Charlie and Georgie are not your normal investigators. Charlie has a dissociative order that disconnects him from the world – and from himself – for worrying periods of time; Georgie has an intense, sharp vulnerability that makes one care deeply for her, especially as you know how much she continues to test and stretch herself. It’s hard to imagine anyone more brave than Georgie Someday. How good it is to see her again.
Although The Ash Doll is book two in the series, you don’t need to have read the first to enjoy this, although I think you really should. But, if you haven’t, you’ll find The Ash Doll an absorbing stand alone crime thriller, that’s both clever and exceedingly well-written.
The Ash Doll takes the reader into very dark territory indeed and I have to say that it was a little darker than I’m usually prepared to go. It’s never easy reading about child abuse and the corruption of innocence but that is a theme that overshadows this novel and I did struggle with sections of it. Nevertheless, this is a beautifully written novel, exhilarating and exciting from start to finish, with a complex, layered plot that kept me fascinated. But, even better than that, are its wonderful characters. I love Charlie Priest and Georgie Someday, and I love them all the more for their quirks and eccentricities. They are each packed full of character and personality. I can’t wait to spend time with them again.