Hill House: A Liz Review
by Blair Howard
For more than ten years, she lay beneath the floorboards of Hill House. For more than ten years, she waited. Who was she? Who put her there? Why? Harry Starke vows to find the answers to those questions, but to do so he must embark upon an investigation that will put him and those close to him in deadly danger, take him deep into the underground city, the Dark Web, murder, organized crime, prostitution, and human trafficking. One by one, he peels back the layers, and with each one, he sinks a little deeper into the morass, the seamy underbelly of a world few know of, and even fewer want to be a part of. Hill House has many doors. None of them lead anywhere but into darkness and despair.
We joined the group at the hole in the floor. All of them, including Doc Sheddon, were on their knees, three on either side. The exposed, rough-sawn joists were heavy, at least four by twelves on twenty-inch centers. Sheesh. They built ‘em to last back in the day. Something was wedged in the gap between two of the joists. It was wrapped in clear polythene sheeting, though age had not treated it well. It had degraded to a point where it was all but impossible to see through the several layers that surrounded the... thing.
“Hello, Kate, Lonnie,” Sheddon said. “Hey, Harry. How’s it hangin’?” I had to smile. Doc had been greeting me the same way for years and, as far as I knew, I was the only one he greeted that way.
“I’m good, Doc. What do you have?”
“See for yourself,” he said, inching his way sideways on his knees to give me room to join him. The others made room for Kate and Lonnie, although he remained standing.
The polythene had been torn... no, it had been slit, and then pulled apart to reveal the skeletal remains of.... Christ! I wonder if we’ll ever know.
“She was young, Harry,” Sheddon said, staring thoughtfully down at the skull. “Sixteen to eighteen, I should say, from what I can see here, but young, for sure.”
“She?” I asked. “You sure?"
About the Author:
Blair Howard is from a small town in England, near Stratford-upon-Avon, on the edge of the English Cotswolds. Until the middle of 2015, he wrote sweeping historical epics, and is the author of five historical novels. In July of 2015 he decided to try his hand at writing mystery novels, and so we have Harry Starke, a hard-boiled detective, "the original tough guy, with finely tuned senses and good instincts, as well as a rougher James Bond type of attitude." Harry Starke, the first in the series, was released in mid-September 2015. The second book, Two for the Money, was released October 19 the same year. Book 3 in the series, Hill House, was released in mid-December 2015, and there are more to come.
Blair is also Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed upon him in 2008 by the then Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear. Blair is a travel writer and professional photographer specializing in golf travel, vacation travel, and golf course photography. His travels take him throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean playing golf, writing about his experiences, and photographing the golf courses he visits. You can follow him on About.com here: http://abt.cm/1zoDpei.
Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.
Visit Blair's blog: http://bit.ly/1KA0CCR
Blair's Website is: http://bit.ly/1zBru1C
Follow Blair on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blairhowardbooks
On Twitter https://twitter.com/bcwhoward
This is my second "Harry Starke novel" by this author and, while I did not enjoy it as much as the first one, it was a good read.
This time around Harry is looking to right a particularly grievous wrong when he’s pulled into an investigation around the discovery of a young girl’s dead body under the floorboards of a falling down, formerly fancy mansion.
This mansion (the eponymous “Hill House”) has been through a few permutations after its original life as a wealthy family’s home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Harry and his doggedly faithful “friend with benefits,” Kate, the super sexy cop are determined to prove that an outfit that had purported to serve as a halfway house for wayward teens was actually a front for prostitution and human trafficking.
When its revealed that there is not 1 but 2 possible groups who could be blamed for the death of the girl (and subsequently the boy they find later stuffed into a storm drain) things get complicated….and dangerous. Thanks to the traffickers’ connection to a super bad mafia dude who’s already got a problem with Harry, he, his employees, and his new girlfriend (i.e. NOT the cop friend with benefits....I'm hoping those 2 end up together at some point!) are all put at risk.
Once everything is sorted out, the ending is pretty predictable, but that’s the nature of most mystery thrillers of this type—it’s less about the end of the road than the actual ride to get there. And Mr. Howard does weave an engaging tale, pleasing this reader as I prefe my characters have a bit of dimension to them. My only real issue is that Harry is a little too much like a super famous thriller hero, Jack Reacher, in his apparent ability to live his life 100% alone.
Otherwise, I find HILL HOUSE to be hugely enjoyable. Anyone who likes well-written characters in believable settings, thriller-wise will enjoy this book!
A Four Lager Read!