Songs of Innocence (Hard Case Crime #33)
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Songs of Innocence (John Blake #2)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  393 ratings  ·  66 reviews

Three years ago, detective John Blake solved a mystery that changed his life forever – and left a woman he loved dead. Now Blake is back, to investigate the apparent suicide of Dorothy Louise Burke, a beautiful college student with a double life. The secrets Blake uncovers could blow the lid off New York City’s sex tradeâ�¦if they don’t kill him firs...more
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 3rd 2007 by Hard Case Crime
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I loved getting to know detective John Blake in Little Girl Lost. In crime-ridden New York with lots of people leading double lives, John maintains his innocence and is deeply affected by what he uncovers in his quest for justice.

Three years later, John’ s life is changed. He has abandoned private investigative work and decides to complete his education, so he accepts a job as an administrative assistant for the university’s writing program.

Once again, John becomes involved with a troubled and...more
Dan Schwent
Three years after the events of Little Girl Lost, John Blake has quit the detective game and gone back to school. When his friend Dorrie turns up dead in her bathtub, John puts his detective hat back on and goes looking for why Dorrie ended up dead. The trail takes up through New York's seedy underbelly of "massage" parlors and up against the Hungarian mob. Can Blake piece together what happened before he ends up dead too?

Ho. Lee. Crap. Songs of Innocence is the most powerful of the Hard Case C...more
Mr. Matt
Songs of Innocence picks up three years after Little Girl Lost. Blake is out of the P.I. business. The mess around Miranda had left him shaken and he just wanted to move on with his life. He is working in Columbia as a low level administrator.

And life is ... okay. Not great, just okay. After Miranda there is a darkness in Blake and this permeates the whole story. He's been battling depression. He's found a sympathetic soul, Dorothy Burke, who is fighting her own demons. And then she winds up de...more
I'm grateful to Charles Ardai for establishing Hard Case Crime. Starting a publishing company is a clever way to spend some of those internet billions. But when I learned that he had written a few novels for HCC under the pen name of Richard Aleas, I was worried that he was just buying his way into a writing career. His first book with HCC, Little Girl Lost, didn't change my opinion much. I thought it was very...OK. But having Ardai kick out a book a year seemed like a small price to pay for get...more
Erin (Paperback Stash)
Songs of Innocence is the first of the hardcase crime novels I have read, a flashback to the days of old where crime noir with pop-up style covers populated the streets. I doubt I'll read another I enjoyed as much as this one for a long time coming.

As a mystery, it's rich. The unlucky protagonist, still carrying baggage from trauma three years ago (covered in the prequel Little Girl Lost), has been taking creative writing classes for journalism in order to rest and recover. His former life of pr...more
Greg of A2
This is a very fine book. It's beyond a genre book in my opinion. The writing is very good to excellent. The story is gripping with an emotional edge to it. John Blake is back after his previous (and first appearance) in Little Girl Lost. It's interesting to see how the Blake character was changed by the experiences in the first book. I'd recommend reading the first book and then reading this book because you would get even more out of the total experience. I can't say too much more without movi...more
This one has quite a body count. To me, it was a 4 for the first half, but then although possible, it got so noir improbable, that the plotting diminished the rating of my enjoyment in the last quarter. The endings of the two John Blake novels I have read are not usual, quite surprising, IMHO. Tension is sustained throughout at an enthralling pitch, but I think this one is just too much of too much for me. Pulp Fiction violence, brutality, torture combatted by a protagonist who is highly conflic...more
I’m not sure how to classify SONGS OF INNOCENCE. It’s easily classified hard-boiled, or it’s not much of a stretch to have it by grab noir by the throat and strangle it. Either way, this book is one depressingly good read, filled with entertainment, action, and plenty of strong women and men. At some points, it even felt like a wrestling match was unfolding in my living room, and I found myself so engrossed in the story…well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to think to breathe.

John Blake is...more
Richard Aleas (or Charles Ardai, if you prefer) is the inverse of Raymond Chandler: whereas Chandler was terrible with plotting while creating unforgettable characters, Aleas crafts his plots with great care while creating easily forgettable characters. As a creation, John Blake, the noir hero of Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence, is little more than the sum of the problems that he encounters (and creates for himself). He's not particularly smart, not particularly witty, has no interesting...more
This book was robbed of an Edgar nomination by a technicality, but it is easily one of the best (albeit bleakest) mysteries I've read in a long, long time. Very few endings will punch you in the gut the way this one does.

(Of course, I'm friends with "Richard," so my view is biased.)
A big Wow for this book. Will make my best of 2008 list. Former PI John Blake just can’t help looking into the death, which was ruled a suicide, of a fellow Columbia student. Won the Shamus for best paperback PI novel this year.
Wayne Simmons
The blurb:


Three years ago, detective John Blake solved a mystery that changed his life forever—and left a woman he loved dead. Now Blake is back, to investigate the apparent suicide of Dorothy Louise Burke, a beautiful college student with a double life. The secrets Blake uncovers could blow the lid off New York City’s sex trade...if they don’t kill him first.

Richard Aleas’ first novel, LITTLE GIRL LOST, was among the most celebrated crime novels of the year, receiving nomina...more
Alan Scott
Jan 03, 2009 Alan Scott rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who thought the film "Hard Core" was too uplifting.
The Universe as Seen Behind From the Curtain-- A Giant Meat Grinder

The second book by Richard Aleas and follow up to his novel "Little Girl Lost," both of which feature his character John Blake trying to make a difference in the world-- and boy does he ever! Not really two separate novels, they should be read together as one story with two parts. This novels catches up with Blake a handful of years after the events of the first book. He's not doing so well. He's depressed, lost, and struggling t...more
Nik Morton
Blake teaches creative writing in New York, having retreated from PI work after getting a woman killed and another seriously wounded. Clearly, he’s not particularly good. Unfortunately for him, one of his students takes his heart and bed and then her life. He – and her mother – are convinced it was murder. So he sets out to discover the truth.

In his search for answers, he delves into the sleaze and dirt of the sex industry, well manipulated by the Internet. There’s a dark heart in the Big Apple...more
Rowland Bismark
For a while young John Blake worked as a New York private investigator, but the case of Little Girl Lost really got to him, and he's now settled down in what should be a harmless, quiet job, an administrative assistant in Columbia University's writing programme. One of the reasons he took the job was because one of the perks is that he can take classes at the university for free, and one of the classes he took was in 'Creative Nonfiction'.

Blake got close to one of his classmates, Dorrie Burke,...more
Joel Neff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's now August, eight months into the year, and I am only six books into my twelve book reading goal for the year (2010).

After reading LITTLE GIRL LOST I jumped into Richard Aleas fallow up SONGS OF INNOCENCE. SONGS OF INNOCENCE takes place three years after LITTLE GIRL LOST and although the bones and scares are healed John Blake, the main character, is as bloodied as the day they happened. The time between books seems like breath in between John Blake struggling to swim. All the time trying to...more
Jun 27, 2007 Walter rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery-lovers
Shelves: hard_case_crime
A follow-up to the Edgar and Shamus nominated Little Girl Lost.

Richard Aleas is not-all-that-secret pseudonym of Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai. Ardnai is a fantastic writer with a bent towards noir, but while he stays true to the genre (attractive women, hard-boiled private eye), he's willing to throw a wrench into the machine.

John Blake is working at a college in order to find his calling. He takes a few courses and ends up in a writing class with Dorrie a part-time masseuse. You would...more
Zen Cho
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neil McCrea
After a long period of crime fiction that simply did it's job and then went away, I've lucked into two novels in a row that have much more of a stick to your ribs quality. Denise Mina's Gods and Beasts managed this feat by adding a bit of literary weight to the proceedings, Songs of Innocence on the other hand is pure pulp but it managed to surprise me.

Richard Aleas (Charles Ardai) surpassed my expectations with Little Girl Lost and pulled off a solid, albeit by the book, crime thriller. He ha...more
SERIES: #2 of 2
WHY: While in a writing class, PI John Blake became involved with Dorothy Lee Burke, "Dorrie", who worked as an intimate masseuse on the side. When she commits suicide, Blake begins to investigate because he doesn't believe that she would kill herself. He is aided by another former lover, Susan. There are quite a few suspects developed as they dig deeper into the situation. Blake is quite tormented because he feels he has caus...more
Mary Varn
Towards the middle of the book I was leaning towards 2 stars, but the end is somewhat redeeming for me. I liked the darkness and sense of desperation that came through. But I had a hard time really liking the narrator. Sure, he had good intentions. But I found his PI instints and abilities to be greatly lacking. Maybe I would have been more forgiving if he had never been a PI, if he was just an ordinary guy trying to figure out his friend's death. Because that's sure what it seemed like.
It also...more
Eric Skillman
Now that there is some fucked up shit.

I enjoyed this enough that I'm now reading Aleas' previous book, Little Girl Lost (which I discovered too late that this was a sequel to, so I'm reading them out of order; oops). Where the previous book plays as a pretty straight detective story (at least so far; I'm only about halfway through), this book really piles on the pathos. Instead of the well-worn tough-guy one-liners and femme fatales, (which definitely have their place, don't get me wrong), you g...more
The Hard Case Crime line of novels is pure detective noir pulp fiction. I usually don't expect great literature from them -- just great entertainment.

This book (which is authored by an unknown using the pseudonym Richard Aleas ("alias??")) stood out from the rest because of the unusual ending in which the protagonist does something that, in nearly 1000 stories, I've never seen another protagonist do. Kudos to the mysterious Mr. Aleas for having the courage do write the ending he did.

Like the oth...more
It had been a few years since I read Little Girls Lost, the first book in the John Blake series. Fortunately, the author provides references throughout so the reader can see why John Blake is so filled with anguish as he is in hot pursuit of his girlfriend's killer. The story moves swiftly--as does Blake--through the gritty streets of New York following clues, being followed, and ducking the cops that want him as a person of interest in a couple of murders. There is a lot of action, snappy dialo...more
Jason Seaver
Unusually for a mystery series, Songs of Innocence is very much a sequel to Aleas's first book with this character, Little Girl Lost - not so much in terms of picking up on dangling threads, but the events of that one loom over this like a constant shadow. That's unusual - series mysteries will often have continuity between volumes, but stand pretty much alone.

This is a dark story, even darker than Little Girl Lost, starting sad and sinking deeper. As a mystery, it's just OK, but as modern noir...more
This is an ironic title, because nothing and no one in this book is innocent. This complex thriller is well-written, in that you glean a hint of the ultimate disclosures early on, but you are compelled to keep reading to pick up all of the details. There is self-deception, and denial, and yes murder, too. The author knows how to construct a good plot and to keep the reader engaged in the details of what happens. Recommended, and very much what a reader hopes for from a neo-pulp novel.
Patrik Stjernquist
Very gritty pulp fiction story. Very well written, and the ending actually caught me by surprise. I will read more books in this genre. Very enjoyable.
Ugh. I finished this book tonight, right before bed. Earlier, it had made me feel this kicked-in-the-gut feeling as I read the point where the true turn in the novel comes. Then I left it with seven pages to go, a little down, but able to face the world. Then I came home and read the last seven pages. Now I feel like the world is a terrible cess pool.
The beginnining to middle of the novel are compelling, but nowhere near as mind-shattering as the end.
A depressing but intense book. I enjoyed reading it. Sort of like the hard boiled crime books of yore, but with a far more fallible and damaged detective as the primary character. Very harsh, and little in the way of redemption can be had here. No one wins, and finding out what really happened doesn't assuage the pain of loss here. Tight writing, no filler. I'd read more Hard Crime books based on this one's example.
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