Sometimes you have to wonder who on earth comes up with the claims on blurbs - but this one "HADES is the debut of a stunning new talent in crime fiction" is so apt the temptation is to call it quits here for this review.
Hades Archer run a junkyard, and desposes of more than just the standard form of rubbish you'd expect. Although one night, he's confronted by an unusual situation - when the "refuse" he's called on to dispose of turns into two living children that he saves and takes into his life.
The storyline sets up the lives of these three and then moves into the present and the police who are on the trail of a serial killer. In the process detective Frank Bennett is partnered with Eden Archer. Both of them have recently lost their working partners in confrontational circumstances, but developing a working relationship between them proves more fraught than Frank could possibly imagine. Made even more difficult when their first case together turns into one of the more bizarre serial killer scenarios presented - a killer who seems to be harvesting of organs. A lot of organs.
Given the scenario, HADES is obviously going to be a dark and confrontational read. A combination of police procedural and psychological thriller, the current serial killer storyline, combined with the past of Eden and Eric, mesh to produce something that's an exploration of justice and revenge. To say nothing of the fraught right and wrongs of ... let's call it "private organ transplantation".
What is most compelling about HADES, however, is the exploration of damage. As the past of Eden and Eric is revealed, and how they came to be possible problems for Hades to dispose of, questions of right and wrong become increasingly grey, and the reader is confronted with a series of situations more likely to be found in a psychological thriller than a police procedural. Despite that there's no inconsistency, somehow all these elements are woven together as tight as a drum.
The balance between the current investigation and the past is also pitch perfect, and the pace of HADES utterly enthralling. The characters are clear, precise and nuanced elegantly between understandable, sympathetic and frustrating. These people read like they are real, and imperfect.
It's very rare that you come across a debut novel that's just about perfect. Sure it's violent and confrontational and uncomfortable. But it is utterly memorable and an absolute standout.