A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel- Feature and Review


Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother's cruel brand of strength if she's going to face the reality about her daughter's death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother's trailer for a final lesson.



The Familiar DarkThe Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel is a 2020 Dutton Books publication.

Best friends, twelve-year-old- Izzy and Junie are murdered at an abandoned playground. The crime rocks the small rural town of Missouri Oaks.

Although local law enforcement has opened a full-scale investigation- with her one ray of sunshine gone- Evie tosses away the veneer she’s been hiding behind for the sake of her daughter and goes full throttle in the search for her daughter’s killer. Even though her brother, Cal, is a member of law-enforcement, Evie doesn’t trust the police, for good reason.

As the urgency increases inside Evie’s mind, she becomes increasingly bold, giving herself over to the darker parts of her psyche she’s been trying to contain, as the shocking truth comes into sharper focus…

Wow. This book, which is hard to put down, is dark, really dark- gritty and intense. I’d say this is not just a mystery, but a character study as well. The rough environment Evie lives in and her less than nurturing upbringing is the exact opposite of what she wanted for her daughter-

Junie still met with a violent end, despite how desperately Evie tried to give her a better childhood than her own.

The story almost plays out like a Greek tragedy-

This book offers little in the way of redemption and justice is not in any way triumphant. By the time I turned the last page, I was nearly numb.

The choices made when women have limited options, is the primary theme of the book. This message might be inexorable and depressing, but it’s also powerful and sobering.



Amy Engel is the author of THE ROANOKE GIRLS and THE BOOK OF IVY series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. Her next literary thriller, THE FAMILIAR DARK, will be published by Dutton in Spring 2020.

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