A novel by Benedict J. Jones
Welcome to London - where the ferryman always has to be paid and the price is two shiny pennies over your cold dead eyes.
When the son of the city’s leading barrister asks ex-con turned private eye Charlie “Bars” Constantinou to look for a missing call-girl, Charlie thinks he might finally have found a way to do some good.
But Charlie soon finds himself embroiled with a serial killer who believes that the soul of the city demands human sacrifices if it is to reward its inhabitants with spoils and riches.
There’s not been a murderer so calculating, bizarre and elusive on the loose in the British capital since Jack the Ripper.
Three time loser Charlie Bars, unlikely hero of Skewered and other London Cruelties, Ben Jones’s first Crime Wave Press release, is the only man to put the city right and make sure the ferryman gets his due.
A bit late with my thoughts on this, bearing in mind I read it the best part of three weeks ago.
September proved to be a bit of a Benedict Jones love-in with Skewered – a novella and collection of short stories and the short offering - The Book of Skin putting ticks in all of my reading pleasure zone boxes.
Charlie Bars, our capable ex-con is hired to look into the disappearance of a London good time girl, Nicole Peters by her boyfriend, Chris. Charlie has some contacts and an ear to the ground, having circulated for some years in less than salubrious circles. I do like this man’s company. Despite the mistakes of his past, there’s an inherent decency about him and a desire to do the right thing, as well as a fierce sense of loyalty – something not always reciprocated by his partner Mazza, or definitely deserved.
His investigation makes some cautious progress with the help of Lena – a blast from his past. Lena’s partially out of the game now, courtesy of a glass in the face from a punter; but still working as a madam. There’s some scared girls reluctant to talk about the freak with a penchant for pink socks, a wooden mask and a huge appetite for violence.
Charlie tracks down Nicole’s bolt-hole and discovers her mutilated corpse in the flat. Case over, except Charlie’s conscience won’t allow it to go.
Whilst meeting Chris to give him the news on Lena, “Bars” meets Chris’s father – Clive Townsley; one of London’s top barristers. A regular paying gig results for him and Mazza on the back of this chance meeting. Errand running, parcel drops, following people. Easy money, but a little bit dubious.
A spot of reverse investigation, reveals that Townsley seniors’ legendary reputation for getting a result may not be down to playing totally by the book.
How does the saying go? Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.
Dark, brutal and another tick in every box. No happy endings, but incredibly satisfying nevertheless. There’s a fantastic sense of place and it’s the best London-set book I’ve read in years. Topped off by an appealing main character, who I hope to be reading about for years to come.
Pennies For Charon is published by Crime Wave Press and is highly recommended. (If you don’t mind a trip to the dark side.)
You can check the author out at his website here and his Facebook page here. He’s also on Twitter - @benedictjjones
Thanks to Ben for my copy of this one.