So Many Doors by Oakley Hall

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So Many Doors by Oakley Hall

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Megan Kenny
Reviewed by Megan Kenny
Summary: So Many Doors is volatile, melancholy and richly evocative. Hall displays a skillful knack for plot and character development, leaving the reader dizzy, exhausted and heartbroken when turning the final page. This is pulp with a heart, a sickly black heart filled with jealousy desire and revenge, but a thumping heart nonetheless.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: November 2018
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
ISBN: 978-1785656880

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Vassilia Caroline Baird, known to all as V, is dead. Jack sits in his cell refusing to talk to the lawyer tasked with his defence. Starting at the murderous finale, Hall skillfully weaves together the stories of his key players, in a tale of love spanning decades and states, marriages and tragedies. By the time the truth is revealed, V will be dead but who else will lose their life?

The characters in So Many Doors don't so much sing as howl. In a collection of broken individuals, driven to violence and suffering by their hunger and grief, there are no innocent parties. The ever present V is perhaps the most complex. It is clear throughout that she is buffeted along on the whims of men, first her father who's callous actions drive her into the arms of Jack, an odious coward too self absorbed to see the consequences of his actions until it is too late. In the face of such cruelty, V has to face the sad truth- that the weak don't survive in this world of men. In response she becomes a person Jack could never dream of. In Jack we see only weakness, a man driven by ownership and jealousy, too afraid to be honest and too selfish to remove himself from the lives of the women he hurts. This is the definition of toxic love, two people hell bent on each other's destruction. The question is how far will they go to twist the knife and how many lives will they shatter in the process?

So Many Doors taps into timeless themes of desire, revenge and the hurts inflicted upon us by those we love. As a result, Hall has created a story which has stood the test of time. However, this is a story which was written more than half a century ago and so there are elements which may be unpalatable to some including racial slurs and flashes of misogyny. Although unpleasant, Hall has, in the majority, highlighted that these were as abhorrent then as they should be today. This leads to a story which feels both of its time and also current, surely the mark of an expert storyteller.

This is, in many ways, a classic pulp noir, filled with hard living, bourbon, jealousy and violence. However, it is also a character study of obsession, lust and poisoned desire, a cautionary tale about cowardice and a tautly written, thrilling contribution to the Hard Case Crime canon.

For those of you interested in reading more from Hard Case Crime, (and really why wouldn't you be?) you could try The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner, Forever and a Death by Donald E Westlake or Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins. From the same stable, we can recommend Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald.

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Buy So Many Doors by Oakley Hall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy So Many Doors by Oakley Hall at


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