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The Other Side of the Mirror

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Carl Duggan has worked as a Detective in the city for a long time. The kind of long where you’ve seen everything, and seen it twice. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise to him when a pregnant nineteen-year-old girl washes up on the banks of the Styx.
But something about this one is different, and before Carl gets any answers, two more bodies join the pile - a corrupt Judge and a big-shot lawyer.
Carl’s gut tells him there’s a connection. There are the little things, the tiny details that others would ignore.
The bodies keep on coming, then a second case rears its head: three young men with nothing in common except their sexuality, each murdered in their own home.
Gaining little assistance from his fellow officers, Carl goes it alone into the darker regions of the City. Along the way, he makes acquaintances and enemies of the City’s more colorful residents, including the beautiful sister of the first dead girl, a Catholic hit-man dubbed ‘His Holiness’, and a shady casino owner named Dice.
The closer he gets to the truth, the more Carl’s life is put in danger, forcing him to move further and further away from the rule of law. Never once does he suspect that the two cases are so intimately linked, or that the truth could be so close to home.

247 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 7, 2012

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About the author

Lex H. Jones

30 books14 followers
Lex Jones was born and raised in Sheffield, north England, in 1985. A keen writer from a young age, he was always fascinated with the supernatural and is obsessed with stories. He loves films, books, theatre, videogames, graphic novels, anything with a good story that captures the imagination. His books tend to have a supernatural (or at least 'unusual') undercurrent, as this moves them away from the more boring aspects of real life.

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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Irene Well Worth A Read.
876 reviews82 followers
August 23, 2019
A stew of seamy characters come to a boil and overflow the pages in this dark and gritty crime thriller.
This is a mesmerizing story in which a hard boiled cop and a religious hit man hold an uneasy alliance. Carl Duggan is a tough as nails detective who won't think twice about shooting someone if he feels they deserve it but his sharp edges and brutish nature can't always hide the fact that he does have a heart. Greed and poverty can both be motivators for grisly crimes sometimes with more gruesome consequences than intended. Crooked cops, prostitutes and gangs litter the town. I loved these larger than life characters and the action barely left me time to catch my breath.
5 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy for review.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
201 reviews4 followers
June 27, 2019
Up and coming author Lex H Jones has now released his second full length novel, this story comes to life over 344 pages.

Noting a Sin City-esque vibe, I embarked on the journey to follow the life of Detective Carl Duggan, opening into an investigation of a young girl found in the river affectionately named “Styx” it becomes clear that this is the norm for The City.

I couldn't help but hear Bruce Willis narrating this one, the grittiness of the city, the way characters were introduced, he'd definitely have to be cast in some way were this made into a film.

The imagery in this book is astounding, you can't help but visualise each scene and the characters are brought to life in a way not that many authors seem to be able to achieve. Each and every character in this book has a story, a reason for being, Jones gives us artistic license to imagine but outlines things just so much that it makes that imagination flow. Often, either not enough, or too much is given to description but this book seems to effortlessly dictate each scene to a degree that you're almost watching the events unfold.

My favourite character in this book is Duggan, the way he's portrayed, the things he does and the reasons he does them. Action meets a softer, almost romantic side as he picks his way through a bleak, despondent existence, married to his job trying to right wrongs and make something out of his world.

Next is Pope, a more faithful character who I imagine to always be calm and collected, this character has an interesting backstory and becomes involved in the core workings of the story.

And we can't forget Jimmy, the light in the story, innocent, yet somehow wise.

I won't tell you any more, there are many more characters in this book and they will all connect with people differently. You need to make up your own mind but these are the three I connected with the most.

This book is one of the best I've read in a while and I am absolutely recommending it to anybody, it will suit the reader who prefers Noir Fiction, there's a very Film Noir element in this and it is fundamental to the imagery used. It will also suit anybody who likes Crime Thrillers or Detective Stories. Be aware there is a twist, things may not be quite as they seem..

All that said the book is not without fault, but that wouldn't stop me from reading it again, nor did it detract in any way from the story. Any errors found have been reported to the Author, as always and will be dealt with.

An absolute must read, a roller coaster of a story that will keep you turning pages until you hit the end of the book! If you can manage to put it down you'll be making excuses to pick it back up.

Check it out.
Profile Image for Luna Ronin.
12 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2019
The Other Side of the Mirror is a book written in the spirit of old-school film noir. It’s moody and atmospheric, and the unnamed or unspecified “City” is an interesting setting. With the poor east side, rich west side, central river dividing both, and “Limbo” right in the middle, there’s lots of potential for great stories to be told in this setting. “The City” itself could have been a great character and definitely sets the tone of the story.

Despite all that, this is a book with a lot of flaws. The most evident is its need for thorough editing. There are lots of mistakes here that shouldn’t have gotten through, and many are painfully clear. These errors include spelling, punctuation, dialogue tags, and general clarity.
The first two listed are pretty clear. As for the third, the author frequently uses odd dialogue tags for each of his characters such as having them “nod,” “shrug,” “sigh,” and “smile” dialogue among others. There was even an instance where the main character nodded dialogue while shaking his head. Only rarely do characters “say” anything. These odd dialogue choices draw a lot of attention to themselves.

As for the clarity, it’s never really clear whether the story takes place in England or America. There are mixed clues that could work for either. Mostly, the clues point to England, but that’s still only a guess. There are mentions of US senators (which would be odd for Americans to refer to a senator as a “US senator”) and an instance of Brits word use vs American word use (used in the context that suggests the Brits are people elsewhere). There’s also the inclusion of the word "whilst," which is clearly British. However, in the second epilogue where one of the characters is in Washington DC, the author has the local news anchor also using "whilst," which is clearly unusual.

As for the story itself, it has a pretty slow pace throughout, although the pacing picks up a bit after the 100-page mark. The majority of the first half of the manuscript is the author telling general information on the “City” and setting the mood, which is a good decision for noir, with little showing anything happen. The trend is mostly reversed during the second half. There’s also little or no action in the first half while it’s occasional in the second. I wouldn’t call the action “thrilling” or lengthy either.

The characters are mostly static and flat, and that includes the token gay guy, which has little apparent significance in the story until the very end. Character development besides the main character really doesn’t happen, and even with the main character, development is rare outside of his interaction with a particular side character.

Conflict and tension are almost non-existent. The main character, Detective Carl Duggan, simply goes to a crime scene. Questions are raised, and he knows immediately where to go next and who to see. He always succeeds in getting the information he needs through intimidation or cunning, and any information he lacks appears easily a short time later. There aren’t any red herrings. There isn’t even any conflict until the last 150 pages or so. In the few instances of action, Duggan generally bests everyone opposing him with little effort or risk and only gets harmed in the final fight. This reduces any tension since there’s little concern that the all-but-invincible main character is in any sort of actual danger. Yes, he faces serious threats, but he almost always succeeds with ease, so why worry about his safety? Considering that, what’s the point of the action scenes since there’s no actual danger for the fights to have any real meaning? It felt like most fight scenes were thrown in just for the sake of having them.

Duggan is also too perfect. As just stated, he never struggles with either fights or his investigation. Couple this fact with his scant character development, and Duggan is simply a boring character to follow.

Then there’s the attempt at the twist ending. While it works well within the information and context given in the story, there’s little doubt that it was just for shock value. The following chapter used to explain the twist ending (If you need an entire chapter solely to explain what happened and why, you did a bad job.) even admits that the twist completely contradicts real-world facts and is thus an anomaly. Occasional clues hinted at an alternative twist that would have worked well for the story and the character, but the one used was just strange. It also wastes a decent character that could have been reworked and used in other books.

In the end, I can’t recommend this book, but here’s hoping the author finds his footing in the near future.
Profile Image for Yolanda Sfetsos.
Author 70 books197 followers
August 31, 2019
I received a copy of this book from HellBound Books Publishing, and I'm really glad I did because it didn't disappoint.

Carl Duggan is a rough and tough detective in the dirty, overcrowded City. There are two sides to the City and they're separated by a river they call the Styx. The East side is full of the poor, homeless, prostitutes, pimps and crime. The West is full of rich, the successful, escorts, businessmen and crime.

Both sides are mirrors of each other--same criminal activity, but one tries to conceal the ugliness beneath a veneer of money.

When Carl starts investigating several unrelated homicides, it doesn't take long for him to solve each case. Except, the more he figures out, the murkier everything becomes when the solved investigations keep coming back...

You know, even though the blurb caught my interest, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book. I thought it might be the kind of disturbing I might not enjoy. But I was wrong.

Well, I was right about the filthy feel of the story, but I was wrong about not enjoying it. Every moment I spent reading the pages of this book made me feel like I was actually there. I could feel the cold and bleak air, could see the dilapidated nature of the streets, experienced the weight of despair on both sides of the City, and couldn't shake the filthy sense every word imprinted inside my head.

All of the characters are simultaneously likeable and easy to dislike. They're complicated and not very nice or giving. The police department is overrun by corruption, the medical examiner is a junkie, the only future prospects for the young is crime or prostitution. This stinky City digs its claws into the residence and refuses to let go.

The main character, Carl Duggan, is a prickly asshole who doesn't seem morally-inclined and is quite the violent cop. Yet, he pushes for justice and isn't easily corrupted. Plus, he's helpful and although he likes to pretend he's heartless and doesn't give a shit, Carl's quite a helpful man. He's got heart. He might not possess much finesse and has quite the acid tongue, but you know what? This made him the best noir voice to narrate most of this dark story.

And this book is dark.

I also liked the City's descriptions. They're done in a way that makes the location into its own character. This awful place reminds me of Gotham or Sin City, an urban playground for criminals. A place where the bad thrive and the good are squashed. A location where there's no definite good and bad.

The pacing is great. The story takes you down one path, makes you feel comfortable and then switches everything on you.

The Other Side of the Mirror is a gritty noir story that grabbed a hold of me from the first page. It's full of unapologetic, foul-mouthed non-PC people who just DGAF about who they're offending or hurting. But instead of turning me off, it totally fit the narrative.

It's full of twists and turns, keeps circling back to the beginning in a way that ties everything together in a messy bow. And by the time I reached the shocking and quite sad conclusion, I was on the edge of my seat. OMG, I can't believe it went THERE.

Of course, the suspicion bloomed inside my mind during the backend of the book, but even then, more unexpected surprises popped up.

I REALLY enjoyed this insanely awesome book.

Also, I'd like to thank HellBound Books for sending me a copy.
Profile Image for Robert Wingfield.
Author 47 books6 followers
August 26, 2021

This began reading like a detective story set in an American-like city not dissimilar to Gotham or a modern day Ankh-Morpork. It is a city the Law forgot, with vice and corruption on every corner.

Splitting east and west sides is a sluggish river nicknamed The Styx because of its use as the dumping ground for murdered citizens. In fact nobody lives too long there, dying of drugs or falling foul of the criminal bosses; nobody seems to live to any age. The west side of the river houses the ‘Vegas’ bright lights of gambling dens, bordellos, and the apartments of the super-rich, whereas the east side is dark, dingy and drug-raddled, with the dregs of society, although the only difference between the citizens is the amount of money they have.
The city is further described as being cold and miserable all the time, and this adds to the feeling of hopelessness and desolation of the people we meet on both sides.

Enter our protagonist, the large and powerful Duggan, who is just about the only incorruptible cop on the local force. He is motivated by justice, not money as so many of the others are, and is saddened by the body of a young girl pulled out of the Styx. He makes it his objective to find her killer, and uses a ‘Dirty Harry Plus’ level of violence to track the villain down, dealing out his own version of justice. But something is not right. There are other apparently unconnected deaths, and the story starts to read like a series of short crimes, but not for long. A pattern is emerging, and a central connection links them all, and not for the reasons you would expect. Duggan forms an uneasy working relationship with a hit-man called Pope, who is the only religious man left in the city, guarding the last church with a fanatical drive, and the two set out to rid the streets of some of the people who are responsible for the crimes so far. In fact, Pope realizes he has a heart after all, and vows to rescue and elope with the sister of the first murdered girl. When a number of gay men are shot using Duggan’s father’s revolver, the suspicion falls on himself, but he knows he’s innocent, and sets out to solve what is turning out to be a serial killing spree.
The final scenes have a twist that nobody could have expected, which is the hallmark of an overall excellent tale.

The book is well-written and keeps you engaged all the way through, with the action being believable and the violence reflecting the sleaziness of the environment, the bad guys getting sorted by the good guys... mostly.

A bit of criticism now. I would have liked a table of contents, but that was not available in the Kindle edition I read. Also, there were a few occasions where an apostrophe was used in a plural (horrors) although most were correct, and finally the use of double-S in some (but not all) instances of ‘focused’ or ‘focusing’, all pointed to the fact the book would have benefited from a final read-through by a critical eye. It’s not perfect, but I loved the story.

This is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time. Recommended.
Profile Image for Edward J.M.J..
Author 4 books3 followers
August 18, 2020
–>I received a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review.<–

A detective investigating several murder cases finds them linked and wades through an incredibly corrupt system to find the truth...

Carl Duggan is your typical hard-boiled detective type .. at first glance. As it goes on you see he has incredible depth to him. The story is full of his wonderful inner dialogue. He's also a very conflicted character, while the rest of the City is corrupt and most of the police are on the take, he refuses to be so as well. But he's still an incredibly violent man, shooting the worst criminals and prefers beating people up to gain information. He does all this while wishing for the City to be better, and at the same time telling us over and over it's a broken place that will never be any better. I enjoyed seeing him be violent one scene, then doing the best for victims he comes across the next, making his own sort of justice.

The characters that aren't completely criminals in the story are all like this really, "good" people who are tainted by the City. His partner Trent, a homophobe that takes bribes... but only from the worst criminals, and he tries to be a good detective otherwise .. Pope, a hitman who prefers to kill only criminals... you get the idea.

The City is quite the character itself. It's always referred to as just "the City", I kept waiting for a name thinking I missed it. It's comprised of an East and West, separated by a river called the Styx, its name from people dumping corpses there. The East is the poor side, and the West the rich... but both are repeatably declared just as filthy as the other, both full of just different types of criminals. Both the narrative and Carl himself relate just how bad the City is, and I loved the descriptions of the corrupt place, where everyone is "infected" and no one leaves. Great world-building here.

I decided to focus on the characters for this review because telling too much about the murder mysteries will ruin it .. but as it goes on you will see how well set up and thought out it was. All the pieces are placed and interconnected before you realize it, which is a good thing because otherwise, the ending would have made me feel cheated. Even if you see what's coming everything was done well and made sense. I found myself wanting to be mad at it, but couldn't rightfully be because everything was already there and logical.

Great writing that brings the City to life, a main character that's surprisingly deep, and the murder mysteries are all wrapped up intelligently.
Profile Image for Nicole Amburgey.
201 reviews12 followers
October 12, 2019
***Please note that I was given a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review***

It begins with the body of a teenage girl that has washed up on the banks of the river, Styx. Carl Duggan is a weary detective who has been working in the City for far too long. He's one of few remaining cops who hasn't sold out and he's on the case. He wants to believe there can still be hope, but has seen very little to encourage that belief. The novel follows him as he investigates the murder of the young girl and other seemingly unconnected crimes, his entanglements with a religious hitman, and culminates in a twist ending.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It's a solid noir with all of the common tropes - gritty city, crooked cops, damsels in distress, and the hard-as-nails detective just trying to do the right thing. It was fun and I got exactly what I expected. Aside from the City - unnamed, and very reminiscent of Sin City - there wasn't anything new brought to the genre with this story. And that's okay.

If I was rating this solely on the story, this would likely have been a four star read for me. The one piece, and unfortunately it's a big one, that held this book back for me was the editing. There was a lot of unnecessary repetition and dialogue; The City was unnamed and the location wasn't given, but it was difficult to tell whether it was in England or the United States due to language and oddities with currency; Character comments and actions that seemed inconsistent with their thoughts and feelings. The ending, without giving it away, could still have been a twist, but with a little more foreshadowing it would not have needed a chapter to explain it.

My honest opinion is that there are good bones here, but they need a little mending in order to be a great story.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 10 books2 followers
July 12, 2019
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I don't normally read crime noir but I really enjoyed this story. The main character, Duggan, was engaging and I enjoyed his dark humour. The city in which the story is set is so well written that it became a character in itself. The pacing is good and there are plenty of clues and red herrings dotted throughout, I only guessed who the killer was a few chapters from the reveal. The story reminded me very much of Sin City or V for Vendetta in style. The only reason I have detracted a star is that I found a lot of the characters and attitudes cliched, perhaps this is a trope of this type of fiction, I don't know, but otherwise I would highly recommend this book. I could have detracted a further star for the standard of proofreading & editing in the book (spelling errors, grammatical errors, missing words), but I don't feel that's necessarily the authors fault and could possibly just be errors in the copy I was provided and not the final product.

Profile Image for Carly Rheilan.
144 reviews12 followers
June 8, 2020
This is a quite exceptional book. It's an extraordinary fusion of genres: on the face of it crime, but also a little bit of horror, some literary fiction (at least in the exquisite writing) and some moments of pure poetry. It's Dante's Inferno with The City as Hell, and a derelict cop playing Jesus, backed up by the local assassin standing in for St Peter. Don't get me wrong. Dante's Inferno was never for the faint hearted, and this isn't either. There's a lot of violent death.

I listened to this as an audiobook, twice round, while pulling nettles. Magical days, immersed in this story. Absolutely delicious.

I'm not going to tell you the story. I don't do spoilers. But it’s a beautiful story, crafted in that tightly woven way that makes you go straight back and read or listen again once you know the ending. It's all there: the ending in the beginning, a snake eating its own tale.
Profile Image for Peter Germany.
Author 10 books15 followers
June 27, 2019
The Other of the Mirror tells the story of Carl Duggan as he tried to piece together a series of homicides in a city split by a river with wealth on one side, and poverty on the other. Duggan’s world is that of poverty and death.

This is a crime noir story that just feels dirty. With the characters and their depth and individuality, the city (which is itself a character), the story that has a pace that is beautifully executed and is well crafted to deliver what the reader needs at just the right time, we have a story that quickly hooked me and left me wanting more from these characters and this city.

Lex H. Jones has smashed it with this one. Definitely one of my reads of the year so far.
Profile Image for Angela Maher.
Author 23 books30 followers
November 4, 2019
This novel has an interesting identity. Highly reminiscent of a vintage detective mystery, its setting is contemporary but in an anonymous city that could be any number of places. Sometimes this was disorientating but it also gave the story a particular charm.
What appear to be separate stories within the novel gradually coalesce to reveal a conclusion I definitely did not see coming. Definitely worth a read if you're after a gritty crime novel that steps outside the usual form.
Profile Image for Twila.
37 reviews7 followers
August 7, 2022
A stunning book. The characters - and The City is one of them - take you by surprise at every turn. It's a story often told, but not like this. I was mesmerised. Sometimes dark and gritty, sometimes sublime, sometimes shocking, sometimes heartbreaking. It's a crime book as if written by a dark angel. Read this book.
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