Many thanks to the author, Paul McCracken, for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Michael’s old gang has finally found him, demanding a ransom for his daughter’s life. The price tag of an old job that went wrong. With the help of his estranged brother, Carl. Michael must return to the criminal underworld. A journey that will take them the whole way from Belfast to Dublin.From Amazon
TLDR; An action-driven crime read starring a father with a shady past confronting dangerous former colleagues in a bid to get his daughter back.
Layla’s Song is a fast-paced crime fiction novel that takes no time jumping into the action. Opening with Michael, his loving wife, and beautiful five year old daughter, things quickly dissolve when his past catches up with him and old friends-turned-sour demand payment for a former job gone wrong. Although he’d worked hard to put that rough life behind him its sudden reemergence has us wondering whether he’ll ever be able to reach normalcy again. The threat to his daughter tears his marriage asunder and has Michael running all over the isle in attempts bring her to safety.
The first person POV threw me off at first in this one since so much of what I read tends to be third person, but it gradually became comfortable part way into the book. It stood out briefly in one small section where there was a chain of “I <verb>” actions beginning some sentences but otherwise was unnoticeable. Style-wise Michael seems to be a punch first ask questions later type of person, which is understandable given the backstory of his past and the stress of his daughter’s kidnapping. This makes for a rough and tumble action-oriented story where it seems Michael has no qualms killing to get his daughter back.
I loved how full of action it was (there was never a dull moment!) but the psychology-curious part of me wishes there would have been slightly more pause to hear what he was thinking and feeling. For instance, the revival of his past is a tremendous fracture to his current life throwing additional strain on his relationship so soon after the disappearance of their daughter. It would have been a great opportunity to go deep into that emotional conversation with his wife – I want to see her deep struggle with it, hear him breaking inside knowing everything he’s worked for and loved is disintegrating in front of him, and have him fight harder for it. The scene felt a little more surface level, however, which could be derived from a few things. From an author’s perspective it could be desire to maintain consistency with the rest of the book’s action-driven style. Alternatively from character perspective either he’s shocked and overwhelmed from the situation or he might simply have less emotional depth from his past (seems unlikely given how justifiably upset he gets in other sections). Regardless of reason in the end I feel it might come down to personal preference, since I enjoy crime reads but lean in on the psychology part of it all.
Upon finishing I found Layla’s Song to be a quick, satisfying read with a fever-pitch ending that keeps you on your toes. I read this book in a matter of a few days – there was just no let up in Michael’s quest and I couldn’t put it down! I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys an action-filled crime story and is partial to first-person POV 😊