in books, review

healing, horror, and the hunted: Cody McFadyen’s the darker side

darkAfter the last book of McFadyen’s I read, I should have known better than to a) read it while alone in the flat and b) read it on what can only be called “a dark and stormy night”.  Truly, the last book frightened me, and while this one wasn’t quite as difficult to get through, I still ended up staying up until 1am to finish it because if I’d gone to bed with the murderer still at large in the novel the nightmares would have been unspeakable.

So, I stayed up until 1am, the murderer was safely in jail, and I could at least think about sleeping.  For some reason, I find McFadyen’s books particularly powerful.  The main character, Smoky Barret, is engaging and strong–but I believe that the complete immersion I find in the books comes from the deft sketching out of all of the characters around her as much as Smoky herself.  Because of this, I care deeply about what happens to everyone, even tertiary characters, which ramps up the anxiety levels considerably.  Add in McFadyen’s habit of at least having a small portion of the narrative done from the victim’s point of view, and I’m well and truly inside the world of the novel.  Of course, it’s a world filled with psychotic killers, which makes it heart-stopping, but it’s definitely there.

This book begins with Smoky on the trail of a serial killer whose motives seem more…unusual…than most.  To discuss any of the plot would be to give some of the twists away, but this chase leads Smoky back to places she thought she had left behind forever.  There is, as always, some lovely *character* moments between Smoky and her team, and between Smoky and her adoptive daughter.  These moments, while they are a relief from the stress and strain of the hunt, only serve to highlight how vulnerable everyone is to the evil that surrounds them.

I read a lot of mystery/thriller/suspense books, and I have to say, I’m finding McFadyen to be one of the best.