Disclaimer: I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Nathan Ripley's debut novel, Find You in the Dark, is an interesting take on the traditional crime novel. Martin Reese is an amateur detective of sorts; spending his increased spare time researching serial killers. He combs through interviews and paperwork to find overlooked clues leading to missing victims. A public service - returning the bodies of kidnapped young women to their grieving families. Every few months, Martin goes on a solo "camping trip" where he carefully digs up a murder victim and takes photos of the grave. Then he calls the police, taunting them on their inability to do their job. If he can find these missing women why can't the police?
Sandra Whittal, a detective, isn't convinced that the mysterious "Finder" is just performing a public service. She believes there is another reason behind his searching and taunting. Perhaps he has some macabre fantasy about serial killers? Sandra becomes concerned that The Finder will escalate and begin creating victims of his own.
It isn't just Detective Whittal on Martin's tail; it seems that someone else is displeased with Martin Reese uncovering once-forgotten bodies.
With an enticing premise and comparisons to Dexter and The Talented Mr Ripley, Find You in the Dark has a lot to live up to. Ripley's writing style and choice of first-person point-of-view for Martin's scenes allow the reader to get into the head of a kind of creepy dude with questionable morals. It's an interesting way to see the world and works well.
Focusing on a relatively unlikeable character can be difficult to maintain. Martin Reese isn't a likeable character. He's a rich white guy who is, as he implies in his calls to the police, better than other people. He doesn't have any particularly redeeming qualities, except perhaps his dedication to his daughter. Unfortunately, these problems with Martin's character prevent the novel from really shining. By the end, I didn't really care what happened to him. Whether he died or got arrested didn't really matter. I was interested in another element of the plot (I won't say because spoilers!) and that was what kept me reading to the end.
Comparatively, the character of Sandra was a breath of fresh air. A brutal and hard-working detective, Sandra's smart, tough, and focused. She's able to see through Martin's crap almost immediately. At least I wasn't the only one sick of Martin. I'd be interested to read more about Sandra, her cases and how the police on the force take a no-nonsense female detective without a maternal instinct.
The overall plot of Find You in the Dark is as interesting as the premise but is let down by slow pacing. A book of this type should seem faster, but I had to push myself to keep reading when I wanted to put it down. There's a race against time, so why isn't anyone racing?!
With an interesting premise, plot, and some compelling characters Find You in the Dark is a good first entry into the world of crime fiction. I expect that Ripley's next novel will improve on some of the less desirable aspects in his debut and I look forward to hearing what's next.
Why Read This Book?
- Debut novel
- Interesting premise
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Find You in the Dark
Martin Reese is a retired man with a unique hobby - digging up lost murder victims. He informs the police, taunting them, and claiming that he's doing a public service by returning the missing to ...