Everybody has a favourite first line (or lines)from a novel, one that sticks with you long after the final page has been turned. The Two O'Clock Boy is going to be joining a few peoples list for this I believe;
'THE BOY LOVED HIS PARENTS MORE THAN ANYTHING ON THIS EARTH. AND SO HE HAD TO KILL THEM'
From this doom laden beginning we are introduced to the latest unorthodox detective on the block, DI Ray Drake. The crime in this first outing for Drake is the murder of several families all of which have one family member who is linked to Longacre Children's Home which burned down 30 years ago. A lot is not known about what happened at the home but Drake knows more than he is letting on. The thing is, Drake doesn't want others to know about his links to the past and fears that when it catches up with him his career will be over.
What through me a little with this book is that it is marketing as the first in the DI Ray Drake series but the main investigative duties are passed on to DS Felicity 'Flick' Crowley and she does carry the majority of the story but as Drake's backstory unravelled it became clear he is the main man.
The book slips between events now and events at Longacre in 1984 as both stories rush to a climax that will keep you guessing right up to the end (that may sound like a cliché but it really did keep the twists coming).
As for the main characters, Drake grew on me as the story went along. He's not just another recently widowed detective with a slightly estranged daughter, he's really dark at times and, most importantly, interesting. Think Luther meets Dexter and you won't be far wrong.
Flick Crowley, on the other hand seemed to develop as she went along, going from a nervous DS leading an investigation for the first time, through a 'wet blanket' phase as she seemed to be losing control and getting led by the nose by Drake away from the Longacre link, until she finally managed to grow a spine and follow her instincts. I liked the latter Flick more, I must admit.
As for the story itself, this is a dark, psychological, twisty narrative that defines 'unputdownable' and to say it is the debut of author Mark Hill makes it even more impressive. I look forward eagerly to more investigations with any who survive The Two O'Clock Boy.
The Two O'Clock Boy is currently available as an ebook but will be available in April 6th 2017 - Welcome to the Next Big Thing in crime fiction 5/5*