It’s Christmas Eve, and Bill Ingram is waiting for his daughter’s train to arrive from London. When it arrives, he feels the first pangs of concern as she doesn’t emerge onto the platform. He phones her, but there’s no answer. Telling himself that she simply missed her train, he continues to wait, but when she doesn’t arrive on either of the next two trains, he knows there’s something wrong, particularly as he still can’t get hold of her via her home phone or her mobile.
Becoming increasingly worried at her lack of contact, he decides to drive down to London, but when he arrives at her flat, he finds everything covered in a thin layer of dust as though she’s not been there for some time. He reports his daughter to the police as a missing person, but they don’t seem all that interested, and so Bill begins to investigate Carol’s disappearance on his own.
Bloq is an extremely well-plotted novel, and Jones steadily builds up the tension throughout. I really enjoyed the structure which initially alternates between Bill’s search for Carol and her own story, which gradually reveals her activities leading up to her disappearance and how she ends up where she does. I won’t say any more on this as I don’t want to spoil it for other readers – this really is a novel that is best approached with as little prior knowledge as possible.
I thought that Bill’s character development over the course of the novel was brilliant. Faced with a parent’s worst nightmare, and, with the police not showing sufficient concern, he gives up everything – his job, his friends and family – and puts everything he has in to finding his daughter himself. And he’s such a mild-mannered man that I couldn’t help feeling incredibly sympathetic towards his plight, and I even worried for him at times! The supporting cast of characters are also well fleshed out, with some shady, unpleasant individuals, as well as a somewhat unexpected source of help for Bill later in the novel.
This is a story that starts out dark and becomes progressively more bleak as it goes on – and I mean that as a compliment to Alan Jones. If I describe a novel as bleak it usually means that I really enjoyed it, and such is the case here. Whilst it may not be to everyone’s taste given some of the unpleasant subject matter and a few graphic scenes, I recommend all fans of crime fiction to give this one a go. I also think it would make a great film.
Bloq is available to buy now in paperback and digital formats. Many thanks to Alan for providing a copy for review.