The Searcher (Solomon Creed #1), by Simon Toyne

Six stars

Returning to begin a new series, Simon Toyne offers readers an interesting story and a mysterious protagonist, free of significant backstory. A man wanders along a deserted road, shoeless and confused. He has little knowledge of where he is, who he might be, or where he’s been. Arriving in Redemption, Arizona, the man soon realises that he is Solomon Creed and came from the direction of a plane crash, still smouldering on the outskirts of town. He has a book in his possession, a memoir of the town’s founder, given to him by one Jim Coronado. Creed has no idea what connection he has to Coronado, but seeks to begin piecing things together, if only to alleviate his sense of confusion. Meanwhile, the aforementioned plane crash seems to have taken the life of a young man, a drug dealer who has ties to a Mexican cartel. As the reader soon learns, the town’s authorities have a similar connection with the same cartel and have been acting as an entry point for drug distribution. However, someone is surely responsible for this crash and the cartel’s kingpin will not stand to see his son die for nothing. As Creed learns more about Jim Coronado and his connection to a town secret, he realises that he must act to blow the whistle on the corruption before he, too, is silenced, and the illegal activity continues to prosper. Toyne returns with another novel seeped in religious symbolism, equally as unique as his past collection of novels. A hit or miss for readers who may have an affinity for Mr. Toyne’s past work.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the previous books Toyne wrote, this one fell flat for me. The premise is one that usually pulls me in, a Reacher-esque novel where the reader is introduced to many characters, some of whom work with the protagonist while others seek to stymie his progress in unravelling what is going on. I could not find myself developing a connection to Creed or the story in general, even with some of the mysteries Toyne plants in his narrative. The ever-present town history told through the eyes of Redemption founder, Reverend Jack ‘King’ Cassidy, in the form of a testament of sorts did not succeed in yanking me into the intricacies of the story’s progression. The symbolic use of ‘J.C’ is not lost on me, but the religious undertones were not as captivating as in many other stories. I must admit that the writing was strong, the characters had some depth, and the narrative kept a decent pace, but that did not seem to be enough this go round. Some might welcome this new series with open arms, but I think I may give it a pass, unless I find myself in need of a filler or choose to forgive and allow Toyne to ‘redeem’ himself.

Decent work, Mr. Toyne and I hope you garner a large following with Solomon Creed. Alas, I won’t be one rushing out to see if he tries to be the new Jack Reacher.

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