Moors

Darkside by Belinda Bauer

“Bauer excels at developing her characters and keeping you engaged from start to finish”

Genre: crime thriller

Plot

In a small village in Exmoor, a local woman has been murdered in her bed. This is PC Jonas Holly’s first murder investigation. But while he tries to solve the murder in his hometown, he is distracted by anonymous messages that seem to come from the killer. Can Jonas find out the identity of the murderer whilst being taunted by a psychopath?

Why I love it

This book has a very gripping story that just sucked me in from the very beginning and did not let go, even once I had finished it. The murders keep on coming for Jonas, and with each homicide comes another turn of the screw for Jonas as he is repeatedly taunted by the killer to do his job. Bauer’s descriptions of the moors and town of Shipcott are beautiful to read, such as the following extract:

The first flakes wandered down from the black velvet sky like little stars that had lost their way, and within minutes the galaxies themselves were raining down on Exmoor. Without a breath of breeze to divert or delay them, a million billion points of fractured light poured from the heavens, to be finally reunited under the moon in a brilliant carpet of silent white.

When I read that for the first time, I found it absolutely gorgeous to read; I could visualise exactly the scene Bauer was sketching for me. I loved it so much that I had to read it several times. Sections such as these broke up the tension nicely and gave me a breather before the suspense returned.

I also really liked the references to the action from the first book in the Exmoor trilogy, Blacklands. Bauer provides nice little summaries of Blacklands, which was great as it’s been a couple of years since I read it, and it’s particularly helpful if you haven’t read it.

Marvel is a character that is constructed very well by Bauer. I detested him just like Jonas does. What really made my blood boil as a reader was that Marvel seems to get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of humiliating those ranked lower than himself. I could really sympathise with Jonas when he was under Marvel’s scrutiny, and I wanted Jonas to prove Marvel wrong and solve the case before Marvel could.

Jonas warrants so much empathy from the reader, not only because of the incidents with Marvel, but also because of the health of his wife, Lucy. Her character really helps to bring awareness of the debilitating nature of multiple sclerosis. I found it quite emotional to read how Jonas’ and Lucy’s relationship was put under strain because of her illness. What’s more, Jonas does everything he can to spare Lucy having to worry about him and his work, which made the exchanges between them all the more heart-warming.

It is not until two-thirds of the way through the novel that it becomes apparent there is a sub-plot involving Jonas’ past. Bauer did an excellent job of bringing Jonas’ history to my attention, making me want to find out more, but then not quite revealing everything, only hinting at it. As a result, the last few chapters were so addictive. I couldn’t put my kindle down as I felt the net tightening around the killer. The ending is one that you don’t see coming at all. I felt very mixed emotions at the conclusion: sympathy, shock, disbelief. It’s been quite a while since I read a book that left me reeling in the same way as this book did.

Overall, Darkside is a compelling crime thriller that will keep you engaged from start to finish, and the ending is shocking to say the least. Belinda Bauer excels at developing her characters and writes such wonderful prose that you just have to keep re-reading it to marvel at its beauty.

Why you should read it

If you enjoy a good crime thriller with great character depth and an astonishing ending, you’ll love Darkside.

Rating: 5/5

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