There are several mysteries in this novel. They are set in the context of a serial killer’s exploits. Why does he kill? How does he choose his victims? The answer to the second question is of interest to the police, especially since it seems he initially committed three murders, then quit for sixteen years but now is back. The answer to the first question is more of interest to the psychiatrist but to find a true answer we have to talk to the killer. Detective Thomas Flagg is willing to talk to the killer; he has been waiting sixteen years to do so. His wife was the killer’s first victim. The only witness to the kidnapping that preceded his wife’s killing was his then two-year-old daughter Harper. She is older now and it seems the killer has come back and is looking for Harper. Detective Flagg does not intend to lose a second woman to the maniac.
Hidden in the Dark by Alyson Larrabee is a 320 page thriller. I nominated this book through the Kindle Scout program, it was accepted for publication, and I got a free advanced copy which looks as if it is treated as a verified purchase by Amazon. I think it is important for authors to get reviews on Amazon that are verified purchases. This is just one of the myriad administrative things that have not spurred my curiosity to further investigate. I just like to read books.
I was surprised at the fast pace of the novel and the number of complex stories that the author was able to weave together in only 320 pages. I read it in one session; luckily I chose to start on a Saturday afternoon so the next day’s work did not suffer. All principal characters are well developed, even Harper’s grandmother who has a minor role but still has well developed background information.
Gabriel, the Bad Guy, has a character that will alternately appall readers and elicit sympathy. On many popular crime TV dramas as well as in much of the crime literature genre, we hear the abused childhood defense asserted and many times dismissed by the general public as legal trickery. No one is going to dismiss Gabriel’s background as other than deeply disturbed. Even Gabriel admits it. That doesn’t stop him from applying a high level of cunning and great financial independence to indulge his twisted desires. His rationale? He only did it for the children.
Gabriel’s reason for the first round of killing, one involving three deaths, is very complex and shows an almost genius mind that went perverted. I would have never guessed the reason and it is one of the first huge surprises of the novel. The reason for the second round of killing is similar, the complex nature of it is also well presented but there is a question about why an old man was killed. This was a singular occurrence, all other victims were women. The reason is one of the instances of dark humor that I felt was well placed to jerk the readers attention back to normality for a bit.
Harper, the teenage object of Gabriel’s (non-sexual) desire, is well developed as a character. Perhaps a bit over the top but still believable. A high school honor student, elite cross country runner, almost expert marksman due to dad’s training, skill in martial arts, are all parts of her resume. But her skill in surviving lengthy captivity impressed me. I can’t guess at the amount of research the author had to do to present such an accurate account of survival.
The writing is so good in this novel that even when the writer describes things I really don’t care about, like basketball, I felt compelled to read the account. And it captured my attention. For approximately 10 Kindle pages (loc 2017-2063) there is a basketball one-on-one session between Shane (romantic interest) and Harper (bad ass main protagonist). I don’t like descriptions of any type of sport but this was good writing that captured my attention.
This entire novel is written without sex or even outrageous violence. This is an interesting trick when we are reading about murder, kidnapping, and an older male with an unhealthy fixation for at least one teenage girl.
Reserve a chunk of time to read this one. You won’t want to stop once you begin reading.