ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine.
Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.
Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil …
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That Darkness by Lisa Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
That Darkness by Lisa Black is a 2016 Kensington publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book in the Gardiner and Renner series.
I’m not entirely sure my feelings about this book are entirely settled just yet, however, even though I have a few lingering feelings of unease, I thought this story was pretty clever.
Maggie is a fingerprint expert working in forensics and Jack is a cop working homicide. They cross paths after a spate of dead bodies show up in the Cleveland morgue, all of them murder victims. While they seem unconnected, forensics tie them together and it nags at Maggie, who is perhaps a little OCD. But, her powers of observation could be her undoing when evidence begins leading her to the most unlikely suspect she could ever imagine.
This is one of those times when I struggle with what to leave in or what to leave out in a review. Suffice it to say, Jack Renner is a most interesting man, a man with a hidden agenda, one that Maggie inadvertently stumbles across. This part of the story was very well executed because the reader is well aware of Jack’s after hours activities. So, I was on pins and needles as Maggie begins to methodically connect the dots. Does her knowledge put her in danger? Will she expose Jack?
The crime element exposes all manner of lowlifes and losers who parade through the criminal justice system without being rehabilitated, or those who walk away with a slap on the wrist or get off Scot free, and who continue to terrorize and murder at will. This novel explores the flaws in our system as well the temptation one may entertain of taking the law into their own hands. This type of personality, the vigilante, is not without conscience, like, say, Dexter, who is sociopathic. The vigilante is righting a wrong and so could evoke a certain amount of empathy from the reader and perhaps even garner some respect, become something akin to the antihero.
In this type of setup, I questioned my own moral code as I caught myself actually hoping Maggie would remain in the dark. Two wrongs never make a right, but are there gray areas? Is it right to cheer this character on or feel relief if they escape prosecution themselves?
To balance out the equation, we have a 'by the book' character, in Maggie, who is sharp, dedicated, and sees things in a right or wrong manner, until she crosses paths with Jack, who leaves her feeling conflicted, up against a wall, forced to make a choice she will have to live with for a long time come.
Did she do the right thing? What would you do? How do I feel about her decision?
Although I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the series or what plans the author may have for the characters, it should be very interesting indeed.
Overall, this is a very well written crime novel and a compelling, thought provoking thriller. It’s unique, dark, and at times brutally graphic and raw with emotion, but also provides a smattering of dark humor which is like the cherry on the cake.
I’m definitely on board for book two!
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