Charlie Bars is back in London and has taken on a missing persons case. Easy money –or so he thinks. The man he is looking for is inextricably linked to the evil perpetrated in the Gingerbread Houses and as Charlie’s search progresses, he finds himself drawn into the seedy underbelly of the capital; a world of abuse, exploitation and deviancy that threatens to destroy his soul.
Others are looking for the missing man too and hunter soon becomes hunted as Charlie finds himself the target of an insane torturer haunted by the ghosts of his military past.
As he descends into the darkest depths of human depravity, Charlie desperately tries to stay out of prison, on the right side of his morality and, most importantly, alive as he seeks to uncover the buried secrets of the Gingerbread Houses.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publication Date: 20th May 2019
Page Count: 184 pages
Genre: Crime / Mystery / Thriller
The Gingerbread Houses
‘Suffer the little children…
The Gingerbread Houses is Jones’ third book in the Charlie Bars series. Capable of being read as a stand alone*, it offers a disturbing and twisted look at child abuse, sexual exploitation, and the lengths some will go to to keep sordid secrets buried deep.
This book – set in the dingier parts of London, England – revolves around Charlie ‘Bars’ Constantinou, an ex-con turned private investigator. Having been commissioned to find the whereabouts of a missing person named Terry Ellis, Constantinou subsequently finds himself delving into the details of historic sexual offences. With the help of his friend and business partner, Mazza Toshak, Constantinou soon learns that what began as a simple search now has dangerous consequences. The depraved underbelly of London is not a forgiving place, and those in authority (the British government) are willing to kill to keep such horrendous discoveries hidden. For lovers of dark and compelling crime fiction, Jones’ book is not to be missed.
Sophisticated and direct, Jones has crafted a gritty read which feels undeniably realistic today. With a conversational approach to his writing (descriptions being very succinct and concise), The Gingerbread Houses is packed full of action and suspense. Use of consistent colloquialisms adds authenticity and credibility to our anti-hero, who retains humour even though he is pitted against multiple adversaries throughout.
Readers of the previous books have suggested that this is the darkest in the series thus far, and I can see why. Luckily, for those who finds such themes difficult to push through, most of the accounts are short and sparse.
I often think that it is very difficult to write a convincing anti-hero, that it is difficult set aside their preceding questionable morals, but Jones has created quite a character. Oddly likeable, it is interesting to see Constantinou’s morals pitted against the morals of those in authority. (‘We might be bad men but we aren’t … animals, Charlie’)
Thank you to Crime Wave Press for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest and unbiased review. It was a pleasure. And this will certainly not be the last of Jones’ books I read*.
*Throughout, there are references to previous situations and characters in the series, making it feel as though you have not missed anything from not having read The Gingerbread Houses predecessors.
*Now to catch up on the previous two!
About the author
Benedict J Jones is a writer of crime, horror and western fiction from south east London. His debut novel “Pennies for Charon” has been described as a “masterful mix of crime and the occult…”. His work has appeared in magazines such as One Eye Grey, Pen Pusher, Out of the Gutter and Encounters, on a variety of websites including Big Pulp and Shotgun Honey and in anthologies from Dark Minds Press, Crystal Lake Publishing, Full Dark City Press and Dog Horn Publishing.
Jones’ website can be found here.
His Twitter can be found here.