Sunday 15 August 2021

I'll Pray When I'm Dying - Stephen J. Golds


Ben Hughes is a corrupt Boston Vice Detective and bagman for the Southie Mob.

Already desperately struggling with obsessive compulsions and memories of a traumatic childhood, his world begins to fall apart at the seams, triggered by the photograph of a missing child in the newspaper and the anniversary of his father’s death twenty years earlier.


What did I think?

I've made no secret of the fact that I am a huge Stephen J. Golds fan and his latest novel, I'll Pray When I'm Dying, is an outstanding addition to his already stunning back catalogue.  I marvel every single time at Stephen J. Golds' amazing ability to write novels with such a vintage feel that it's like a black and white film transferred from screen to page.

With a dual timeline set 20 years and many miles apart, we read the stories of William and Ben Hughes, father and son respectively.  Ben has followed his father into the police force but has left London and is now a detective in Boston and an agent for the Irish mob.  Ben is ruthless and violent but he also suffers with OCD and it's heartbreaking to see how debilitating this is.  Yes, that's me feeling sorry for a baddie!  

Throughout the prose there are flashbacks to Ben's childhood as he struggles with episodes of OCD and this built my empathy further as his trauma was laid bare.  When a report of a missing child sends Ben into a spiral of despair, he is obsessed with saving the boy as nobody ever saved him.  I've never felt such empathy for a violent protagonist but that's the magic of Stephen J. Golds' writing.

I'll Pray When I'm Dying is beautifully written, and somehow the prose is lyrical even when it's brutal.  Perfectly crafted with not a word out of place, it's dark, disturbing, haunting and compelling.  Completely unforgettable and I'll definitely be reading it again in the future to fully appreciate its brilliance.  Stephen J. Golds' star continues to rise and he once again scoops the full five stars from me.

Many thanks to Stephen J. Golds for sending me a digital ARC to read and review.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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