Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne
A plane crash in the Arizona desert. An explosion that sets the world on fire. A damning pact to hide an appalling secret. And one man bound to expose the truth. He is Solomon Creed. No one knows what he is capable of.
Not even him.
When Solomon Creed flees the burning wreckage of a plane in the Arizona desert, seconds before an explosion sets the world alight, he is acting on instinct alone. He has no memory of his past, and no idea what his future holds. Running towards a nearby town, one name fires in his mind – James Coronado. Somehow, Solomon knows he must save this man. But how do you save a man who is already dead?
When it comes to thrillers, I’m always looking for a novel that will keep me on my toes. I want fiction that delivers the unexpected and throws me the odd curveball or two. Simon Toyne’s latest, Solomon Creed, is a great example of how a thriller should be. An inscrutable main protagonist stumbles into the middle of a tricky situation and has to not only to survive, but also learn something about his own mysterious origins.
Between Creed and any potential answers however, is a psychopathic cartel boss known as Papa Tio. This sadistic maniac views Redemption with revenge fuelled eyes. Papa is heading to town determined to wreak some bloody havoc. I love characters like this. Whenever Papa Tio appears on the page, you get that sense of barely contained rage and seething menace. Cobble this hate together with his own unique code of conduct and this makes Tio not only a fascinating character, but also a more than worthy advisory for Creed.
In the sleepy little border town, you’ll also find a whole host of other scumbags who value money and power over all else. The mysterious Mr Creed needs to figure out who he can trust and who has dark deeds in their heart. Redemption is a town full of secrets and it takes the right outsider to uncover them.
When it comes to a bit of escapism you can’t beat a good mystery/thriller. You certainly can’t get much more mysterious than a lead character who has no idea who they are or where they came from can you? This could easily be the most annoying plot contrivance ever but Simon Toyne’s deft writing uses it sparingly. I love nothing better than a genuinely unpredictable character, you just don’t know which we he is going to jump at any given moment.
You get a sense that there are two stories unfolding at once, both at a different pace. The first concerns the here and now, the people of Redemption and their links to the criminal underworld. The second story is that of Solomon himself. This story is taking longer to unfold. When the book ends there are still a plethora of unanswered question about our titular lead. Creed is a strange character. Actually, thinking about it, calling him a character doesn’t seem quite right. He is like a blank slate. Creed knows nothing about his origins prior to events at the beginning of the book, but relevant facts burst into his brain when required. He is the poster boy for the word enigmatic. There is a wonderful little coda at the end of the novel that offers just the tiniest glimpse of insight into what is going on. Simon Toyne teases just enough to keep the reader’s interest piqued, damn the man. I’ll admit it, I’m curious. I need to know more about this man. My fervent hope is that there will be further novels featuring Solomon Creed.
I’d imagine that this novel will be literary equivalent of Marmite to many. Some readers will hate the pacing and despair at the choice of lead. The chapters are short and punchy but the author still takes his time establishing his narrative and drip feed the reader key details. Personally, I loved this approach. There are plenty of twists and turns to enjoy and having a main protagonist who is on a question to discover themselves was refreshing.
Tonally I was reminded of the Coen Brothers film No Country For Old Men. Wikipedia describes that movie as a neo-Western thriller. That feels like an entirely appropriate label for Solomon Creed as well. Yes, let’s go with that. A neo-Western thriller. I can’t wait to discover what happens next.
As a quick addendum, if anyone wants to make this into a movie that would be extremely cool. I’ve been pondering my dream casting choices and I have lots of insight I would be happy to share.
Solomon Creed is published by Harper Collins and is available now.