Stuart Keane's Reviews > Hourglass Heights

Hourglass Heights by Ian David Noakes
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it was amazing
bookshelves: modern-horror, psychological, edgy-thrillers, extreme-horror, ghost-stories

Horror is an intriguing and bizarre genre. However, it's also one of the most flexible in terms of content. Sometimes, the content can be mixed to bad effect - we've all seen the results in book and movie form - but it can also create some unique and thrilling tales of terror. I can honestly say one thing though: It's been a very long time since I've read an erotic thriller/mystery/whodunnit with a Japanese/supernatural influence. After all, they don't come along often...however, Hourglass Heights is one such novel...

Hourglass Heights. An apartment block with a secret. When Detective Tanaka (sexy, flawed, bad-ass) is assigned a series of brutal murders, she believes a serial killer is to blame. Whilst investigating the crimes, she realises that something is amiss. When more bodies start to pile up, all as mutilated and eviscerated as the last, it becomes clear that there's something sexually sinister about the murders - something not natural or of this world.

Sexy, smart, thrilling, mysterious, erotic and chilling. Just some words one can use to describe Hourglass Heights. Part noir (shady streets, flawed protagonist with a murky past, hard-boiled dialogue), part murder mystery - one that could contest the greatest thriller writers - and part comic book (Japanese folklore plays a huge part in the story), HH is a phenomenal read. Dripping with menace and lust, this sexually charged story of death and redemption is hard to ignore. My reading pace is quite fast, but I found myself taking my time with this; placing myself in the world and enjoying every word. I also had the privilege of reading a physical copy of this book; it only enhanced the experience.

The characters are excellent, not least the main protagonist Marcia Tanaka, a damaged, near-suicidal detective. Her dark past drives her to mindless - and borderline violent - sexual encounters and excessive alcohol. Not the perfect personality for a murder investigation or two. However, the character is written with verve and realism, not shying away from the characters weaknesses or destructive pastimes. It's refreshing to see a flawed character portrayed so originally and it helps us root for her as she develops before our eyes. She might as well be virtually ripped from the pages of a comic book - think Sin City's babes with a badge - in the way she's written as she seeks redemption for her 'sins'. It's unflinching, engaging stuff.

Her support characters are interesting too. Vincent, an attractive artist who resides in Hourglass Heights - who Tanaka takes a liking to - is potentially cliché but works within the confines of the story. A horny teenager who happens to know all about Japanese folklore and becomes a source of information for our heroine is hilarious. The residents of the apartment block are great too, a highlight being the landlords sexually deprived wife - her moments are comedy excellence. And Crimple, Tanaka's boss and surrogate father figure, is awesome in his role - if there's a follow up to this, they could form a great duo. The murder mystery has a place for all of them in turn and the glut of characters never feels forced. Even a disgusting, vomit-inducing pimp has time to shine, pivotal in the story itself. It'll make you look at one night stands in a whole other light though...especially the ladies.

Ian David Noakes is one to watch. Masterfully crafting a murder-mystery that's unpredictable, thrilling and creepy in equal measure, he really brings the story to life. He weaves Japanese folklore, American pulp fiction and dark comedy effortlessly. Also, the sex scenes are excellent. He doesn't pull any punches and there are no happy endings. Sex has a place in this story and it's not a pleasant one - bar one very touching scene - as characters crave it, feel degraded because of it and, shockingly enough, die because of it. The enemy in the story is sex and the way it affects every character is paramount to the story. Erotica is may well be, but no one will be getting off on this. If hardcore isn't your thing, be warned, it isn't pretty.

5* - One of the best books I've read this year. I don't usually read erotic books but it soon becomes clear that the erotica is used to quench other needs in this book - murder and violence - and serves as a plot device rather than a selling point. The book is violent, gory, chilling and sexual but it's also addictive and unputdownable. HH will have you craving more. Tanaka is a character who could easily carry her own series and if this is the case, the author would be onto a winner. If not, the book will stand alone as a great entry in the erotic thriller genre. This book easily makes my Top Ten of 2014 list. Excellent!
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Reading Progress

June 27, 2014 – Shelved
June 27, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
July 1, 2014 – Started Reading
July 1, 2014 – Shelved as: modern-horror
July 1, 2014 – Shelved as: psychological
July 1, 2014 – Shelved as: edgy-thrillers
July 1, 2014 –
page 51
July 2, 2014 –
page 69
July 8, 2014 –
page 191
July 10, 2014 –
page 220
July 13, 2014 – Shelved as: extreme-horror
July 13, 2014 – Shelved as: ghost-stories
July 13, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Nelson Great review, might take a look at this.

Stuart Keane Paul wrote: "Great review, might take a look at this."

Very original book, I loved every second of it. If you like Japanese Manga and Anime, this will ring true with you. : )

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