WHITE ASHES by John D. Moulton


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A debut thriller tells the story of a young couple in the 1960s whose romance inadvertently stirs up an unsavory past and a few dangerous individuals.

Derbyshire, England, native Helen Farrington’s shocked one morning to find her nearly 17-year-old daughter Rachael’s bedroom empty. The girl’s sudden departure surprises Helen. In a note to her parents, Rachael mentions her boyfriend, Jason Beauvale. The teens have been together for two years, and Helen’s never bothered to disguise her disapproval. Despite rumors that Jason’s flirting with other girls, he and Rachael grow closer, and marriage possibilities ultimately prompt delving into his past. Jason and his mom, Rebecca, are well-off thanks to his dad, Jonathan Douglas MacIntyre, who pilfered funds from and incited unscrupulous types, known collectively as the Syndicate. Jonathan’s now missing and probably dead, while mom and son have hidden under various surnames for years. But when Jason searches for a saintly cop he befriended as a boy, the Syndicate takes notice and sets about getting its fortune back. This begins as a stranger in a black coat, who spooks Rachael when she realizes he’s following her, but soon escalates into more serious affairs: intimidation, kidnapping, and even murder. Moulton’s story, despite its epic length, is relatively simple, devoting its first half to its teen characters in love. There are several baddies in the tense latter half, but they’re clearly being directed by a single person, whose Syndicate membership is a surprise reveal later. Still, the author forges riveting back stories: Jonathan’s coded diary promises to divulge details about the Syndicate, and Helen’s childhood trauma may explain why she has such an aversion for Jason. There’s occasional repetition (“Let it go” is a popular expression among the characters) but also smart, effervescent prose, like Helen’s temper depicted as “tension in her face” and a “tightly held steam iron.”

A long but laudable tale that deftly blends a love story with all the goodies of crime fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4917-7149-5
Page count: 738pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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