Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne
Former TV executive, Toyne, is the author of the Sancti trilogy of apocalyptic conspiracy thrillers which, now I’ve read his new book, I’m keen to explore – they sound so much better than Dan Brown.
For me, a good thriller is the perfect palate cleanser between more literary fare. The number of formulaic copycat thrillers that grace the supermarket shelves is enough to make anyone despair, but amongst the dross are the few that stand out from the rest, exponents of the art of great thriller writing. This is one of them.
In Solomon Creed Toyne has created a protagonist for a new series of thrillers very much in the mould of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, but he takes the trope of the catalytic stranger arriving in town one step further. It begins in the shimmering heat of a (not dark!) desert highway…
In the beginning is the road – and me walking along it.
I have no memory of who I am, or where I have come from, or how I came to be here. There is only the road
…and the desert stretching away to a burnt sky in every
………and there is me. (p3)
-asking myself questions between each step – Who am I? Where am I? Why am I here? – repeating each one until something starts to take shape in the blankness of my empty mind. An answer. A name.
‘James Coronado.’ I say it aloud in a gasp of breath before it is lost again and pain sears into my left shoulder. […] the more I say it, the more distant it becomes until I’m certain the name is not mine. It feels apart from me though still connected in some way, as if I have made a promise to this man, one that I am bound to keep. (p5)
Sirens wail, and we find that the man is walking away from a plane crash. Meanwhile in the town cemetery a funeral is taking place, the whole town has turned out for it, then they see the smoke and Mayor Cassidy knows more trouble is on the way for the Arizona city of Redemption near the Mexican border.
Surely no-one could have survived that plane crash? The man walking away is taken to hospital to be checked over, he has what looks like a brand on his arm. The name in his jacket says Solomon Creed – that feels right somehow to the amnesiac. In the jacket pocket is a small book:
Riches and Redemption
The Making of a Town
by the Reverend Jack ‘King’ Cassidy
Founder and first citizen
The book tells the story of how Jack Cassidy had a vision, to build a big white church in the desert and mine the hills and Toyne gives us chapters from the book spaced throughout the novel as Solomon reads it and applies his findings to his investigation. For, it turns out, the man they buried is James Coronado – and being suspicious of Creed, Police Chief Morgan doesn’t want his talking to his widow. Meanwhile ex-cop Mulcahy who had been due to pick up a cargo from the plane is also on edge, wondering how he’s going to tell Mexican drugs baron Papa Tio that his son died in the crash.
We have all the ingredients for a first class action thriller: – an enigmatic stranger, a buried man who must have been on to something, a dynasty who have run the town since its inception, possibly corrupt officials, and a drugs baron out for vengeance. Redemption is a town of secrets. Will Creed be able to unravel them before ending up dead himself?
It’s not spoiling to say course he will – we know it’s the first in a series of novels. Creed is an extremely able and resourceful hero, but, do we find out who he actually is? Well, yes and no – and that’s all I’m willing to say in the matter!
This thriller has the real feel of a modern western. You get a real sense of the landscape which is both beautiful and desolate. When Creed took to horseback to go cross-country it felt like he was made for travelling this way. I shall look forward to reading his next adventure with pleasure. (9/10)
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Source: Publisher – Thank you.
Simon Toyne, Solomon Creed (2015) – Harper paperback (June 2016), 496 pages.