Review: Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton

Wednesday 8 April 2015
Title: Past Crimes
Author: Glen Erik Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 5th March 2015
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9780571314584
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
If my grandfather's letter had stopped at the comma, I would have tossed it in the trash... only the last three words mattered. If you can. That passed for please, in the old man's way of talking... If you can scared me a little.

Meet Van Shaw - soldier, ex-con - as he returns to his native Seattle after a decade's self-imposed exile. Answering voices from his past, he finds a whole heap of trouble, and himself the prime suspect in the brutal attack on his grandfather. Drawn back into the violent, high-stakes life he tried to leave behind, he has to try and see right from wrong amid the secrets and resentments of those he was once closest to.

Every so often a book comes along where the typical way I review a book just doesn't seem right, and I find myself wishing I could write better reviews that can do the book justice. To describe Past Crimes in a basic 'this is what happens' way could end up making it sound like just another thriller, yet it's so much more than that, and really, it was one of the most exciting and original novels I have read in a long time, and one that totally consumed me over the past day reading it.

Van Shaw, soldier and ex-con returns home to Seattle after a decade's self-imposed exile when he receives a letter from his grandfather, alerting him that he may need his help. Arriving to find his grandfather brutally attacked, it isn't long before Shaw is the number one suspect. He finds himself drawn back into the violent, high-stakes life that he tried to leave behind, and let's just say a huge can of worms is opened. Buried secrets rise to the surface and it's an intense and completely thrilling read that had me on the edge of my seat one minute, and then quietly reflecting and gathering my thoughts as the past and present start to collide the next.

One of the highlights of Past Crimes for me was definitely the Seattle setting, and the authentic and totally believable way it was portrayed by Hamilton, and how vivid it was in my mind. In fact, it's hard to find fault with the book. The writing and characterisation are incredibly strong, as is the storytelling, Hamilton delivering up a story that will keep readers guessing, and creating in Van Shaw a character that the reader will be rooting for from day one. He's also a character that feels 'new' and stands out in a very busy line-up of similar characters.

Van Shaw is a character who deserves a series, who needs a series, and I for one am very excited to continue reading his story, and to see what Hamilton delivers next. For this to be a debut is quite remarkable, so it's definitely going to be a sequel to look out for. Until then though, I highly recommend Past Crimes. Already the comparisons to other authors are coming, yet some of those continue to sell on name alone, regurgitating the same tired stories each year, what we have here is a fresh, original debut that can easily stand alongside some of the best-selling authors in the genre.


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