Today marks the rebirth or rather relaunch of one of my favourite reads of 2016. Originally published as The Two O’Clock Boy, Mark Hill’s fabulous first Ray Drake novel has had a makeover and a rebrand to tie it in with the upcoming sequel, It Was Her. Dark, brooding and a little bit dangerous are, in fairness, probably not words you’d use to describe Mark Hill. He’s really very nice. However they do fit his protagonist Ray Drake, and I have to admit that he is one of my book crushes so I cannot wait for his return.
But for now folks, it is time to say hello to His First Lie.
About This Book
Do you want a thriller that grips from the first line?
Do you want a thriller to leave you gasping for air?
Connor Laird frightens people: he’s intense, he’s fearless, and he seems to be willing to do anything to protect himself and those he loves. He arrives in the Longacre Children’s Home seemingly from nowhere, and instantly becomes hero and villain to every other child there.
Thirty years later, someone is killing all of those who grew up in the Longacre, one by one. Each of them has secrets, not least investigating cop DI Ray Drake.
One by one the mysteries of the past are revealed as Drake finds himself in a race against time before the killer gets to him.
Who is killing to hide their secret?
And can YOU guess the ending?
His First Lie is a stunning offering from author Mark Hill. Moving between the present day investigations and the weeks in 1984 after Connor Laird first went to Longacre, Hill offers the reader a thrill ride full of twists, shocks and complete moral ambiguity. Are the characters simply victims of their past, driven to poor life choices by a difficult and abusive start, or is this merely an excuse to justify their crimes? What is it that creates a criminal? A killer? Nature or nurture?
Hill’s killer, the ‘Two O’Clock Boy’ is an emotionally complex character. As his past is slowly revealed to the reader, you are put in a strange position of feeling a little sympathy for him as much as for all of those he targets. What happens at the home is something which will make victims of them all, emotionally and, ultimately, physically. Whether as a result you can forgive his actions – well for me the jury is still out. Is he a killer? Undoubtedly. But the truth is far more complicated than that and it’s not that easy to simply condemn. In some way, Hill’s writing toyed with my emotions such that I couldn’t truly hate him, no matter what, and yet could still fear the clinical execution of his plans.
With Ray Drake, you have an almost impossible character. An anti-hero. He is driven by a love for his family, a need to keep them safe, which you have to respect, and yet his methods leave a lot to be desired. I can honestly say that I didn’t know how to feel about him. I liked his character at first, but then as the story went on I found myself wondering how far he was involved and what it was that the killer had over him. I didn’t trust him, and as the past was unveiled, scene by scene, he became that little bit more complicated. My feelings mirrored those of DS Crowley; confused by Drake’s change in character, his determination to avoid the obvious truth and to derail the investigation. He shocked me and made me go gah! in frustration. But I still liked him. A lot. I wanted to hate him but found myself rooting for him instead. Good boy gone bad or simply a father placed in an impossible situation? You’ll have to read to decide for yourself.
Flick Crowley is a well written, well rounded, character. With her own demons to battle, a poor relationship with her estranged father and an over reliance upon her sister, she is a very likeable character. Tenacious and determined, she carries on with her investigations, in spite of Drake and l can see her being a character with so much to give. She is certainly no pushover and acts on instinct. You can’t help but like her.
The writing is pacey, the tension gradually building to the final dramatic crescendo, as, chapter by chapter, more of the past and motivations are revealed. The twists in the story, the duplicity, the deception, are so well hidden that I didn’t see most of them coming until they were staring me in the face. I thought I knew … but I was so very wrong. I love it when that happens. The thrill of the chase, the developing sense of jeopardy and threat, all driven by a truly tight narrative, make this a literal page turner. And then that ending … wow. Just … more gah and then a sense of foreboding and … Oh heck. Loved it.
The murders are grizzly, the perpetrator without remorse and the protagonist divisive. But I was compelled to keep reading. I wanted to learn all of their secrets. To understand why the killer was so hell bent on such a vicious revenge. I want to know what the heck happens next for Drake and Crowley. What they have been though is definitely going to make for an interesting and complex dynamic in future books. I can hardly wait.
A brilliantly crafted, fabulously dark and vengeful 5 stars from me. If I was reviewing anew today, I’d probably give it one of these too …
But don’t just take my word for it. You can buy your own copy right here:
And if you have already read this book, because lets face it, why wouldn’t you have, then you can preorder book two, It Was Her, which is released on 17th May, right here:
About the Book
Do you want a thriller where nothing is as it seems?
Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.
Did she do it?
Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Sarah. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.
Did she kill them?
As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.
About the Author
Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.