The Charlie Bars Thriller Series 3: The Gingerbread Houses – Benedict J. Jones


Hello friends!

My Goodreads Reading Challenge of 54 books is officially completed! Quite exciting that we’re still in November and that I’ve got plenty of time to read more books this year. My boyfriend is already wondering which number of books he should give me to read for next year, haha. I’ve never read any books about Charlie Bars before, but if any of them are like The Gingerbread Houses then I’m really going to get to it at some point! I’m so glad Crime Wave Press reached out to me and asked me to review it! I’ve borrowed the synopsis for the book from Goodreads:

A dark secret lies at the heart of the British government; a secret so appalling that they will kill to protect it.

Charlie Bars are back in London and have taken on a missing person 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.

The Gingerbread Houses took me to my favourite town, London, but it showed me a much darker side of the city, the side I hopefully will never see. This book is dark, mysterious and full of intertwined relationships. When I started this book I found it a bit hard to stick with all the perspectives but that quickly got better since I hardly could put the book down! This thriller was filled with action from early beginning to the last page which is why it was so hard for me to put it down. I had to know what was happening! The horror of the book was both intriguing and disgusting. The world portrayed to me through this book is something I know very little about but most likely it’s very real and thus pictures the world of many people. Many times throughout the book I felt like we were back in the Cold War times with spies sneaking about and murders were conducted in secret. The book is set in our modern world and you can tell by certain events that are mentioned in the book. In my opinion, this makes the book even more intriguing!

Even though there is a lot of perspectives The Gingerbread Houses is easily written. Well, haha, it depends on your English skills I suppose. Crime Wave Press publishes Hong Kong’s English language imprints and I found myself to be struggling a few times in order to understand what the characters were saying or meaning. I’ve never read Hong Kong English before but it made sense when my mind just had some time to turn a word or sentence an extra time over in my head. It turned out to be rather amusing for me! Another thing I really liked about this book was that it featured places I’ve lived in London like New Cross! It’s always great to see the names of familiar places in books you read. In this book, there were several familiar names and thus it was easier for me to place where Charlie was moving. One gotta love London!

Charlie, our main character, is a peculiar one. He has a very dark past that haunts him in this book and I believe that if I’d been familiar with that past I would have understood him better. He is quick in his thinking, although at times a bit too foolhardy, and he has a somewhat dark sense of humour. I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve seen enough shit in your life. In a strange way, I came to view Charlie as a hero which I suppose he is meant to be in this story but he doesn’t carry the normal characteristics of a hero. He’s done a lot of shit in his past, he drinks a certain amount, he gets beaten up, and he is good at his job most of the time. At the same time, he is kind, loving, and want to do a difference in this world by catching bad guys. This makes him sound like a cliché, and maybe that’s true in some sense, but I believe Jones has made him this way to bring contrasts to the story. The kinder sides of Charlie stands in stark contrasts to the circles he moves in. Because of this I don’t find him to be a cliché but more a person who’s been through a lot in his life. I like this character and I’ll certainly try to read more about him in Jones’ other books!

The Gingerbread Houses is a great thriller filled with action! If you like your thrillers more on the dark side then this is definitely your kind of book! Hopefully, you’ll like Charlie as much as I did and enjoy the book to its fullest. I would suggest that you’re 18 or above when reading this book due to some rather heavy scenes and stories portrayed in this book. I’m so glad I got the chance to review this book and as a result, I believe I’ll read more thrillers in the future!

Published: 2019

Genre: Dark thriller

Theme: Secrets, abuse, exploitation

– The Book Reader

45991702. sy475

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