Decima’s Blake debut crime novel, Hingston’s Box, is a dark and frightening novel which focuses on the exploitation of children, something the author is passionate about, as emphasised by the fact that a percentage of the book’s profits go to the charity Embrace Child Victims of Crime.
The novel follows the story of Jason Hingston, a Detective Sergeant who is put on medical leave whilst investigating the disappearance of two young twin boys who were on their way home from school when they vanished. Suffering from nightmares and visions, Jason takes his uncle up on his offer to help him redecorate the kitchen in his Dartmouth home, escaping London for the countryside, where he finds a mysterious box which leads him to a mystery which has a creepy connection to the present.
With notes of the supernatural, Hingston’s Box is atmospheric, although I was slightly disappointed that the beautiful Dartmouth setting was underused, with the full potential of the inherently creepy and frightening landscape not realised. However, despite this there is a real old fashioned style and depth to this novel which lends a real tension to the narrative and allows the reader to become really interested in the cases’ conclusion.
It is this interest that is a true testimony of Blake’s narrative skill- the victims themselves hold little inherent fascination, but it is the rich characterisation of the protagonist, Hingston, and the descriptive writing style which draws the reader in. The supernatural elements to the novel are not overstated, and as such it does not fall into the common trap and become farcical, as many other such books can.
Overall this is a truly fascinating book, and one which is difficult to put down. Although it starts off a little slowly, the pace is soon picked up, and the reader will be fully transfixed until the novel’s brilliant conclusion. Hingston himself remains free to start a fresh investigation in a new novel, and personally it is my sincere hope that he does.