Review - EDEN, Candice Fox
Right from the commencement of HADES, the first Archer / Bennett book by Candice Fox, it was obvious that this was a series to be watched. Dark, confrontational, emotional and compelling, that book started a journey into the consequences of human damage, and EDEN picks that up, twists it around your throat and pulls tight.
When Eden Archer goes undercover to catch a potential killer, the deprivation of the world into which she immerses herself is unsurprisingly apt. She's a woman with a dark core, a vigilante, an edge dweller, and the way she can step into the odd world of that remote farm makes enormous sense. Even if her fellow-police watchers struggle to understand that. Apart from Frank Bennett of course - part fascinated by Eden, part terrified, his ambivalence about the reason for keeping an eye on Eden is a reflection of his own personal feelings.
Bennett has problems of his own though - the death of his girlfriend in HADES is still having a profound effect on his own sanity / stability, which he's been trying to self-medicate with alcohol and wisecracks. Much of the backstory from that first book is pulled apart / and thrown against a few walls in EDEN, and it might be that missing the earlier book will mean you miss some of the nuances of these interactions. It may also be that you'll struggle to read the clues and hints in the tensions between Hades, Eden's Tip dwelling father, and Bennett. Bennett's agreement to help Hades when he finds he's being watched, stalked, ultimately harassed might be hard to fathom even after reading both books, but the hold / sway / charisma of this old man is there. Buried. Particularly in his past.
"Out there, on the surface, Heinrich's money walked, passed, tumbled from hand to hand, bumped into other piles of money and multiplied, the way that rats will triple and triple again in narrow passageways filled with torn paper. It was gathered and presented in stacks on tables in backrooms and cardrooms and changing rooms. It arrived unexpectedly into groups of men in the shadows of crowded clubs, was passed in envelopes into confused and bloodstained hands, was tucked into coat pockets as lips brushed against the rims of strained ears."
Hades, Eden and Bennett to some extent all follow that pattern, they slip unseen, quietly, ominously into situations. They are the crooks best and worst friend, avengers and perpetrators - each in their own way.
Needless to say, this reader is a huge fan of both of these books. EDEN is different from HADES in that there's a power-shift between Eden and Bennett, there's a strength transfer and a vulnerability handover. It's not so different in that the central investigation of a series of horrific crimes is one thing (and to be honest not that hard a perpetrator to pick), but the bigger thing is that constant picking away at damage. At power, control and the weirdness of the human condition.
'I fool myself that Eden has a heart – that she would at least have trouble killing me...'
Most police duos run on trust, loyalty, and the desire to see killers in court. But Detective Frank Bennett's partner, the enigmatic Eden Archer, has nothing to offer him but darkness and danger. She doesn't mind catching killers – but it's not the courthouse where her justice is served. And now Eden is about to head undercover to find three missing girls. The only link between the victims is a remote farm where the desperate go to hide and blood falls more often than rain. For Frank, the priority is to keep his partner monitored 24/7 while she's there – but is it for Eden's protection, or to protect their suspects from her?
Across the city at the Utulla Tip, someone is watching Hades Archer, a man whose criminal reputation is the stuff of legend. Unmasking the stalker for him might be just what Frank needs to stay out of trouble while Eden's away. But it's going to take a trip into Hades's past to discover the answers - and what Frank uncovers may well put everyone in danger . . .