The Ash Doll by James Hazel #BookReview @ReadersFirst1 @JamesHazelBooks @BonnierZaffre

the ash doll

Author: James Hazel

Genre: Thriller

Format: Paperback 432 pages

Release Date: 20 September 2018

Publisher: Zaffre

I would like to thank Readers First UK and the author for the advance review copy they provided me for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Some things are meant to be forgotten…

Prolific lawyer Charlie Priest has bet his career on one case, but when his star witness turns up dead on the morning of the trial, things start to fall apart fast. 

It would be bad enough, but Priest suffers from dissociative disorder, a condition so destructive that it leaves him questioning the truth of his own existence. 

Priest knows there’s a brutal killer out there, but as the bodies begin to pile up, he soon realises that he’s caught in a web of deceit and corruption that protects a deadly secret: one that threatens to tear him and those he loves apart. 

What happened in the past had been buried. Now, someone has remembered. 

You can order your copy of ‘The Ash Doll’ on Amazon at: 

My Thoughts

We start the book in November 1989 when a police woman is called out when a young girl is found standing on a cliff edge and jumps. We’re then thrown back to the present day where we are shown correspondence between Simeon and an unknown character only known as User3412. Simeon is clearly having doubts about going through with something. So already, only a couple of chapters in there are some big questions. Who is the young girl? Why did she jump? Who is User3412 and what is it that Simeon is reluctant to do? 

Charlie Priest is a lawyer in the case of Elias v The Real Byte Limited. Elias is a children’s foundation and one of the largest charities in the UK established for the benefit of child victims of war, domestic violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Sounds like a very worth while cause right? Well it would be if it weren’t for the fact that the CEO of the charity was publicly accused in an article published by the Real Byte Limited for accepting bribe money from terrorists.  

Priest seems quite broken and feels he is undeserving of anything good in his life. It doesn’t help that he is diagnosed with dissociative disorder and struggles to maintain a grip on reality. It was really interesting to read how Priest deals with this condition and I felt nothing but sympathy for him as it sounds like a terrible affliction to have. 

Georgie is Priest’s employee, she is smart and quick and compliments Priest’s personality nicely. These two characters had a really nice dynamic and it was enjoyable reading the two of them interacting and conversing. 

The book is told in short snappy chapters which keep the book moving and make it very easy to say ‘just one more chapter…’. The book does make reference to the authors previous book ‘The Mayfly’ which also features Charlie Priest. I wouldn’t classify this book as a continuation in a series as such, it’s very much capable to being read as a standalone, but it’s one of those series where the main protagonist features in multiple books. 

The references to ‘The Mayfly’ have very much piqued my interest and I have already added this to my reading pile. I also see from the authors note at the end that the third Charlie Priest novel is being worked on as we speak so I look forward to catching up with Priest again in the not too distant future. 

About the Author

Before turning his hand to writing, James Hazel was a lawyer in private practice specialising in corporate and commercial litigation and employment law. 

He was an equity partner in a regional law firm and held a number of different department headships until he quit legal practice to pursue his dream of becoming an author.

He has a keen interest in criminology and a passion for crime thrillers, indie music and all things retro.

James lives on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds with his wife and three children.

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