Hades - 2015 Reading Challenge

I have read more crime fiction and thrillers in the past year than all the years before it combined. I'm not exactly sure what started this trend, but I think it was when I picked up a Harlan Coben novel and read it in about 24 hours. His books meant I could go through a lot of fiction really quickly, which I love, and I continue to find that with most other crime and thrillers I read. Don't get me wrong, I occasionally like a novel I have to work for, like Infinite Jest or Farther Away-- books that make you learn while you read and really earn each page that you go through.

But more and more, I'm realizing that life is too short to read books you don't like. Even though I've determined to finish each book I've started this year, I have to say that I've already given up on the first story in Will Self's Liver, and I'll be trying to make it through the other three. More about that when I review the book.

I first heard of Candice Fox and her Ned Kelly Award-winning debut novel, Hades, on the Australian Writers' Centre Podcast, 'So you want to be a writer'. This is a fantastic resource for any writer, by the way, so you should definitely give it a listen. They interview agents, authors, editors, and publishers every week -- and there are always some fabulous insights into what it takes to make money with your words.

Fox gave a fantastic interview about how she came to write crime fiction and persisted through hundreds of rejections from publishers across (I think) four failed novels before she wrote Hades. As an aspiring author myself, who is right now pushing through rejections and requests and queries and all that entails, I have deep respect for someone who kept going as long as she did before finally seeing her words in print.

And it was worth it, at least from my perspective as a reader. Fox's plot is one of the most unique stories I've read in crime fiction that still sticks to the traditions and important tropes of the genre.

A book with a one-word title

A young boy and girl are kidnapped and left for dead, only to be rescued and raised by one of Sydney's most notorious criminals, known for cleaning up other people's dirty work and getting rid of evidence at a high cost. They grow up to become deadly weapons, eliminators of evil, and two of the sharpest, most unlikely police officers on the force.

Enter Frank Bennett, newly transferred to the district and partnered with the elusive Eden Archer, just as victims of a new serial killer are discovered. People of good health and rare blood types are being killed for their organs by a rogue, Darwin-obsessed doctor whose meticulous work and perfected technique of blackmailing make him nearly impossible to find.

Hades is terrifying without being horribly graphic, suspenseful without being obvious, and written by someone who obviously knows her way around the law and psychology of criminals. In her interview, Fox mentioned that she grew up with a father who was a parole officer, and she even spent staff Christmas parties at the prison in her younger years.

“People say, ‘Oh, why are you so fascinated by murder?’ but everyone is. When there’s a crime scene at the side of the road people slow down, they want to see. It’s natural to be fascinated by dark stuff, I think. I’m just really, really fascinated by it.” (Writers' Centre interview)

The thing is, Fox's fascination comes through every page of her fiction, absorbing the reader and making her equally as engrossed with the mind and the mentality of a dangerous killer. We understand Jason Beck. We may disagree with his methods, but we understand why he does what he does. Similarly, we understand the people who are willing to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for a life-saving organ, disregarding who had to die so they could have it.

If you want a light and fluffy book that looks at a world full of rainbows, steer clear of Candice Fox. But if you want to be intrigued, teased, and a little tormented, then definitely pick up Hades -- the first in her series of Archer and Bennett novels.

If you want to see what categories I've checked off in the 2015 Reading Challenge, check out the list in the sidebar. I've tried to be good about putting in each review what category I'm checking off with the book, but feel free to ask!