Two O’Clock Boy was published by Sphere on 22 September 2016 and is available to buy here
TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…
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.
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 today.
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.
Two O’Clock Boy is a rather promising debut by Mark Hill. I was swept away by the enigmatic and very flawed DI Ray Drake.
The story starts with a dramatic murder, as a boy in 1986 plots to kill his parents. Who is he? In the present day, we meet Detective Inspector Ray Drake. Drake is still coming to terms with the death of his wife and appears to be a bit of an outsider. Detective Sargeant Flick Crowley is promoted by Drake. She is soon on a horrific murder case, where a family is slaughtered. The brutal death of the Overton family alerts Drake to something terrible from the past coming back to haunt him. Everything links to the horrors of Longacre Children’s Home, in the early 1980s. Drake is determined to keep his secrets and go it alone to chase a killer. He uses his authority to subvert the case. Will the truth finally come out?
This is a tale of child abuse and its repercussions. It is one that we have seen time and time again, in crime fiction. The dark hidden history of abuse in institutional settings. Mark Hill combines two timelines, giving us the childhood history of his protagonist, Ray Drake, and the background to the present day murders. I felt very connected to Drake and his frustrated D.S Flick. It is hard for Flick to make progress in the investigation, with Drake breathing over her shoulder. I was a trifle confused at times by the characters and action in the 1980s. I would have liked this element to have been stronger and a fraction darker. Overall Hill pulls it off, thanks to Ray Drake and the present day police investigation.
I look forward to seeing where Mark Hill takes Ray Drake next. This is a series, with a potential to blossom!