Today I am reviewing That Darkness by Lisa Black. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington for the eGalley of this book. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in return for my honest review.
About the book (from the publisher): 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 every move, closer to them than they can possibly imagine.
Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he enjoys it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any other reason but 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…
My review: Though Lisa Black has written other novels, this is my first opportunity to read her writing and it won’t be my last. She is a forensic investigator herself, so she knows what she’s talking about and every detail rings true. In Maggie Gardiner, she has created a character who is singularly devoted to her work. Her attention to detail and her willingness to do the methodical and relentless investigating, leaving no stone unturned, is what makes her good at what she does. It is also what draws her further and further into investigating a series of killings that have certain elements in common.
Black creates a environment – whether in the lab, in the autopsy room, or in the squad room – that is rich with detail. She also knows Cleveland, which becomes another character in the novel.
At the same time as we are watching Maggie’s pursuit of the truth, we are also watching Jack Renner’s pursuit of justice. He, along with Maggie, is fascinating – both of their voices distinct and fully realized. What follows is a game of cat and mouse that kept this reader fully engaged (as in, I couldn’t put the book down) until the end. I had no idea how it would turn out.
The story raises compelling questions about vengeance, justice, morality, and where those lines are drawn. When is it necessary to take the law in one’s own hands?
Writing from the point of view of both Maggie and Jack, Black weaves together a complicated plot with seeming ease. It was a true pleasure to read. She is a fine writer and I highly recommend this book.
And good news! It looks like this will be part of a new series. I’m very happy about that.
About the author: New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black is the author of seven novels in the Theresa MacLean mystery series and two novels written as Elizabeth Becka. As a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, blood, DNA, and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.
Lisa has lectured at writers’ conventions and appeared on panels, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. As a forensic specialist, she is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, the International Association for Identification, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts and is a Certified Latent Print Examiner. She has testified in court as an expert witness over 65 times. Her books have been translated into six languages. She lives near Fort Meyers, Florida.
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