Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Bill Ingram’s daughter, Carol, moved to London from Glasgow to start her career as a journalist. When she goes missing, Bill will stop at nothing to find her. He finds that his little girl had problems that he couldn’t have imagined and her nightclub-owning Albanian ex-boyfriend looks like a likely suspect in her disappearance. Can he find Carol in time to save her?
I was given an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) of this novel in exchange for my review.Bloq is a gut punch. It is visceral without being overly drawn. Bloq is heart-rending in its subject matter and unfailing in details written with the hand of an observer lending them greater impact than if we were in the story with the subject. I previously reviewed Blue Wicked and The Cabinetmaker by Alan Jones. While Bloq shares the author’s penchant for detail; Bloq is less Guy Ritchie and no less that rare read that scribes try to convey with authenticity leaving overwrought emotion only when appropriate. Alan Jones has written a human-interest masterpiece.
Bill Ingram is a character with which any parent will identify. He receives a text that his daughter is spending the holidays with him, but when she fails to appear at the train station, starts to panic. Bill is a smart guy. His daughter is an adult and while the police empathize, they’re not willing to treat Carol as they might a missing child and actively search for her. Bill knows what he must do and travels to London. He meets a friend of Carol’s and through flashback chapters, we get a full picture of what she has been doing. Thanks to the very cleverly framed opening scene, we know her love interest is up to no good. In construction, Jones shows readers how a good girl could have gradually lost her way and become embroiled in a dark world that she doesn’t want to acknowledge and cannot, in any way, control. Where Jones could have taken a morality-driven path, he chooses to play the observer allowing the investigators, the ones that love the subject most, to focus on finding the missing girls and making the responsible parties pay for the crimes.
Aleksander, the owner of the eponymous nightclub, is a great character. He plays his cards very close to his chest in his relationship with Carol only allowing her to see what is advantageous to him at the moment. His ability to be convincingly as bad as he was but as charismatic as he was, is a credit to the author. His henchmen were drawn as diminutives of himself without the ability to meld socially but could have easily gone to a mustache-twirling baddie in their scenes. Jones has the restraint and delicacy in writing these characters to keep them feeling like a viable threat and to make the reader doubt their end. The way that Jones handles their course in the story is wonderfully detailed with a light hand.
In the course of the story, Bill meets a woman whose half-sister has gone missing in a very similar way as his daughter, and when they start to work together, the level of detail that Jones infuses in their actions is staggering but enthralling. There are false IDs, dummy accounts, a beard stained with tea…. Bill and his partner are playing the long game and it reads like the best kind of thriller, never feeling drawn out. Bill has everything intricately thought out and has no boundaries. Jones takes literary risks in Bloq that are to be respected.
Jones has a special skill for drawing strong, brave women. In “Blue Wicked” it was DC Catherine Douglas. Bill’s accomplice in Bloq has heart and spirit and the ability to take risks while being careful with the knowledge that the yield outweighs the cost. The women are wonderfully legitimate in what they do and the level of skill with which they accomplish it. They are not masculine and aren’t written in that way but they give credit to any woman that stands up for the helpless. The level of restraint and skill at subterfuge from the particular female in Bloq was a wonderful departure from the standard of the genre.
If you’re looking to spend a comfortable afternoon with a truly well-crafted work and don’t mind a little grit in your fiction, pre-order Bloq by Alan Jones immediately on