The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy) (Inquisitor Poldek Tacit 1) by Tarn Richardson
|The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy) (Inquisitor Poldek Tacit 1) by Tarn Richardson|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A bloody alternative history/horror story about a different form of butchery stalking the battlefields of 1914's Arras and the corridors of the Catholic church. If you don't mind some viewpoint jumping, the story and cast are well worth it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2015|
|Publisher: Duckworth & Co|
|External links: Author's website|
France, 1914: A priest is murdered, if you could ascribe such a mundane term to such an act. He was actually pulled apart brutally, literally and totally. The Catholic Inquisition sends one of its best to investigate: Poldek Tacit. Tacit may be a tortured, troubled soul fighting the demons of his own past but when it comes to eliciting information he's good, albeit via some questionable methods. Meanwhile on the battle lines at Arras the British face the Germans in a war that will become even more horrific due to the evil that walks among them as a dark, inescapable shadow.
Tarn Richardson may be a British writer but life could so easily have turned out differently for him. Tarn actually went to art college but wrote when he should have been art-ing and is still at it, in fact his ideas flow photogencially onto the page as a result. The other Tarn factoid that has had an effect on his life is his upbringing in a haunted house in the West Country. This fed his burgeoning fascination with all things that go bump in the night, an interest that's once again writ large throughout this novel.
The atmosphere drips with dark fear of the unknown and, eventually, the unknown's bloody leavings. This is definitely not one for the squeamish as we're not only presented with evil scenarios but also with a hero who has definite problems, even before he arrived in Arras.
We travel back between the Inquisitor Tacit's past life story and his present job of interviewing those surrounding the rising body count.
From the moment his parents were killed in front of little Tacit's eyes, we realise that this isn't someone who can stand still, powerless; quite the opposite in fact. Unsurprisingly, neither did he come out of that or his adoption by the church mentally unscathed. However, our complex hero subdues his memories with alcohol while his fight for truth continues, apparently unimpaired (depending on who is doing the assessment). He may not be a goody goody but he has a heart, a wry sense of humour and, as far as I'm concerned, a certain charisma.
We also travel back and forth to the trenches at the Front. The war seems to tally with what we've been taught about the conflict over the years: friends joining up together, the British officer/soldier class system, idiotic leaders… The thing we aren't used to is the mode of death that sweeps through both sides irrespective of nationality.
It's not totally a man's world though. The Vatican have sent Isabelle, the most unlikely nun and inquisitor-assessor as doubts have been cast over Tacit's suitability. She soon realises that there are no observers when it comes to the possibility of a flesh-flinging Armageddon incarnate. (Did I mention it's bloody?)
The other lady of the tale is Sabine, a local lass who seems to know more than she's letting on…
There were a couple of moments when I wanted the viewpoint to stand still for a while but the ground Tarn covers with his technique ensures the alternating method makes sense. The even better news is that this is only the first in what I predict will be a very successful trilogy of Tacit books which, seeing how Tarn leaves the poor bloke at the end of this one, is just as well.
(Thank you so much, Duckworth & Co for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you like a bit of fantasy adventure with your gore, we definitely recommend Age of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) by Angus Watson. If you prefer the alternative history element, we just as definitely recommend Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I by Richard Ned Lebow.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy) (Inquisitor Poldek Tacit 1) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy) (Inquisitor Poldek Tacit 1) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon.com.
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