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Soul Murder Paperback – 10 Jun 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (10 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007347901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007347902
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Boris Starling's writing career began at the age of eight, when his English teacher spotted that his short story was (a) unusually good for a child his age (b) copied verbatim from Tintin's 'Prisoners Of The Sun.' (That was also the first time he learnt the word 'verbatim', not to mention the term 'copyright violation'.)

All his work since then has been strictly his own. He has written eight novels, including Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers. Five appear under his own name (Messiah, Storm, Vodka, Visibility and, in a daring breakout from one-word titles, The Stay-Behind Cave) and three as Daniel Blake (Soul Murder (UK)/Thou Shalt Kill (US), City Of Sins (UK)/City Of The Dead (US) and White Death). Every one of these books features someone dying horribly somewhere along the way. Sometimes they even deserve it.

Boris also created the 'Messiah' franchise which ran for seven years on BBC1, and has written screenplays for productions in the UK and US.

He has inherited his grandfather's male pattern baldness, but sadly not his prodigious height. He is a keen sportsman, though he has now reached the age where enthusiasm and experience are beginning to trump sheer skill. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children, greyhounds, and however many chickens manage to keep clear of marauding foxes.

Product Description

From the Author

Soul Murder is the first thriller in a series featuring Franco Patrese, a Pittsburgh detective with a special interest in crimes with a religious undertone. What inspired you to write this series?
Several things inspired me to write this. First, the religious aspect. Though I’m not especially religious myself, I’ve always been fascinated by the huge effect religion has on so many people’s lives. Some of it is good; for example, faith can carry people through the most terrible of tragedies. But much of it seems to me bad. Religion has been a major cause of strife over the past few centuries, often for what seems – when you break it down - like little more than a childish ‘my God’s better than yours’ contest. Second, Franco Patrese himself. He’s a complex character, not least because of his own relationship with the Catholic Church, and I knew I had to make – and keep – him complex if he’s to carry an entire series.

Terrorism and religion are some of the key themes of Soul Murder. Did you find it difficult to tackle such controversial themes?
Not at all. If anything, I found them fascinating, and the more so the further I researched (though inevitably 90% of that research never made it into the finished book). It’s very easy with terrorism to see it in binary terms, whereas of course it’s never that simple. In particular, I wanted to give a sense of how different the Western and Islamic fundamentalist mindsets are. I’m not one of those neocons who believe that every Muslim is the enemy, far from it, but the extreme section – the terrorists – will, I think, never be reconciled with Western society. I remember a very revealing exchange on the Today programme a few years back, when John Humphreys was interviewing an Islamic extremist who lived in London and was railing against the West. ‘If you hate it so much,’ Humphreys asked, ‘why don’t you leave?’ And the man replied that it wasn’t his place to leave, because the whole world belongs to Allah, and Allah decrees that sharia should be imposed on the whole world. And I thought, now I understand. The West believes in nation states and democracy. Hard-line Muslims believe in a global theocracy. There’s no middle ground.

How important is a sense of place in your writing?
Hugely. Location should be an extra character, if you like. I chose Pittsburgh because it seemed a great place for a thriller; interesting, but rather overshadowed by other more famous north-eastern cities. And I loved it. It wears its heavy industry, hardscrabble past with pride, but it’s also a very forward-looking place, and some of it is extremely beautiful, which rather surprised me I went there during the winter, when it was bitterly cold, and just walked the streets. I think the hotel staff wondered what this crazy Englishman was doing every day!

The scenes on the Pittsburgh estate remind me of the TV series The Wire. Are you a fan?
Very much so, not least because I was at school with Dominic West, who plays McNulty. There’s nothing I can say about The Wire that hasn’t already been said, but I guess one of its appeals to me comes back to the question of location. In The Wire, Baltimore isn’t a place; it’s a living, breathing organism, and you see the biology of the city, as it were, the way in which it all works (or doesn’t work). David Simon is rightly lauded as a writer. I’d love to be half as good as him.

How much of your life and the people around you do you put into your books?
A few things here and there – people’s mannerisms, funny stories, political views – but I try to keep it to a minimum. All writers are told ‘write what you know’, but I always think this is the wrong way round: it should be ‘know what you write.’ I love my life, but it’s not the stuff of thrillers; I live in the countryside, I’m married with children, I work alone. I don’t run round jumping out of planes or defusing bombs. But the things I write about, I want to know all about them, so I can be convincing when it comes to writing them. Google is invaluable for writers. Ten, certainly 15 years ago, a writer would have to do the lion’s share of his research in libraries or talking to people. Now, you can find anything out within minutes.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing now?
I think I’d still be in words, one way or another. A journalist, probably. I didn’t have the patience to be a lawyer, the numeracy to be an accountant, or the ambition to be a banker. Shame, as I’d probably be earning much more money in any of those professions!

Without giving too much away, what can we expect next from Franco Patrese?

His move to the FBI in book two gives me a chance to move him around and set books in different locales, certainly in the US and perhaps eventually overseas as well. Book two is set in New Orleans, which is of course about as different from Pittsburgh as it gets. Beyond that remains to be seen. Having convinced my wife that a Pittsburgh research trip definitely wasn’t a holiday, ten days of hot cloudless New Orleans skies may mean I have to go somewhere cold and wet again next time….

About the Author

Daniel Blake worked as a reporter on the Sun and the Daily Telegraph and then for Control Risk, a company which specialises in kidnap negotiation, clandestine investigations and political risk analysis. He was also one of the youngest-ever contestants on Mastermind. Daniel studied at Cambridge and currently lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Oct. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first thriller introducing Franco Patrese, a homicide detective in Pittsburgh (I believe he transfers to the FBI in later books). Franco is a lapsed Catholic, but his partner Mark Beradino is very much involved in the Church. The book begins with what appears a domestic crime, in the worst part of the city. A drug dealer shot by his girlfriend. Patrese and Beradino get little chance to investigate the murder though before another occurs - that of a premier brain surgeon. Before long, other prominent citizens are also killed, set on fire by a murderer who seems to be able to gain access to the victims with ease.

If you like your thrillers to be exciting, with great characters and a plausible plot, then this could be for you. The author is not afraid to tackle some pretty disturbing and controversial themes - including religious and racial intolerance and the role of the Church. Both homicide detectives are hampered in their mission to find the killer by having personal secrets they wish to hide and the action is literally non stop, with a delicious twist at the end that, for once, I never saw coming. Absolutely fantastic if you enjoy books in this genre - the next is downloaded on my kindle already.

One word of warning though - the US and UK editions of this authors books have different titles. In the US this book is titled, "Thou Shall Kill" and the next book by him is called City of Sins in the UK, but "City of the Dead" in the US. Just beware you don't end up ordering the same book twice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Nancy F. Jones on 25 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
In the US this book is called 'Thou Shalt Kill.' I recently discovered it at my favorite used book store and thought I'd give this new (to me) writer a look. I wasn't disappointed. It's a great read--excellent character development, a twisty turny plot, and lots of religious zealotry. I love the setting--Pittsburgh PA--and hope that the character of Franco Patrese will come back in a series.

This novel is about a serial killer who uses religion as an excuse to exact revenge on people the killer believes have violated the Catholic Church's religious teachings. Dubbed the 'Human Torch' by the media, the murderer uses immolation by fire as the means of punishment. Detective Patrese and his partner, Mark Baradino are assigned to the case. Each has a personal reason for attempting to hide important information from their fellow officers--and from each other.

Although a case can be made that this book follows the usual serial killer plot points, it is so well written and its characters so well developed that it feels fresh. It kept me engrossed till the final twist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By happyreader on 18 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in a couple of days, staying awake far later than I should have done - it was that good. It's the sort of book you have to read twice, the second time to find all the clues you missed first time round. The ending is absolutely amazing.
Religion has long been the cause or reason for wars, and Soul Murder brings this bang up to date.
If you were on a desert island with this book, you'd be hoping you wouldn't be rescued until you'd finished it. I can't wait for the next one. Hurry up with it, please, Daniel Blake!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By V. Warrington VINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Daniel Blake's Soul Murder was a great read from start to finish. Seemingly un-linked gruesome murders, a couple of maverick cops and religious fanaticism - what more could you ask for in a crime novel? The plot moves on at a good pace, it was well-written and action-packed. The characters were well-developed and brought to life by Blake's descriptive powers. The only thing I didn't really like was the scripture passages but they didn't detract from the book too much. I just wanted to keep reading - a proper page-turner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Watson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 July 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is so much in this book within its 550 pages that it becomes disconcerting for the reader to fully grasp just what is going on. Certainly the religious nut is not unique and, although, to my mind, it starts slowly, it does pick up its pace, only to be brought almost to a stop by pages moved from the bible to impress the reader how religion interferes in the lives of a whole range of people.

Patrese is a likeable new cop on the book reader's block, not so sure about some of the others but, no matter, the author has intentions for further books so we'll see what happens.

It's the sort of book you'd take on holiday, better still, hope to find a copy when you arrive. It's good to read but not something you can't put down and go for a swim or a beer. But you will want, I think, to reach the end even if the journey meandered somewhat. There are better novels in this genre but for a debut, the author should expect most of his readers to look out for the next book. If only the religious side could be toned down somewhat despite the fact that it this aspect which has prompted Blake to create these stories. As I said, we'll see what happens.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rhosymynydd VINE VOICE on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know Pennsylvania very well so its like reading a book about your home turf and makes it all seem very real. The book is well written, gripping (which is what a thriller should be!) and makes it hard to put down once started. All in All I would recommend this - I recently read I Kill by Falletti and found this much much better. Soul Murder
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