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The Two o’Clock Boy by Mark Hill

September 22, 2016


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

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.

The Two O’Clock Boy – great title – is a debut thriller from Mark Hill and in D. I. Ray Drake, Hill has created a detective whose moral compass swerves all over the dial, which makes him an extremely interesting and unpredictable central character.

The premise of the novel is not especially new – a children’s home managed by unpleasant and sleazy character, dark doings and some grizzly deaths. What marks this novel out, though, is the precision of the prose – some of the descriptive passages are very chilling and the writing invokes some genuinely tension fuelled moments.

Hill offers a strong narrative, an original voice and some realistic characterisation, which adds to the reader’s questioning of what  and who is to be be believed. Though I knew before the denouement what the big secret was, that in no way detracts from a very well told story where the tension builds and the climax is compelling and explosive.

No punches are pulled in this hard-hitting, gritty crime thriller which I read pretty much in one go.

For a debut thriller, this is a knock out, and I would really be interested in more work from Mark Hill, especially if it involves D.I. Ray Drake.
The Two O’Clock Boy is published by Sphere on 22 September

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book which has not influenced my review

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