Book Title: The Dark Room
Author: Jonathan Moore
Reviewed By: Chelsea
Series: None (But Maybe?!)
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Mystery, Suspense Fiction, Thriller
Date Read: 03/01/17
Pub Date: 01/10/17
Gavin Cain, an SFPD homicide inspector, is in the middle of an exhumation when his phone rings. San Francisco’s mayor is being blackmailed and has ordered Cain back to the city; a helicopter is on its way. The casket, and Cain’s cold-case investigation, must wait. At City Hall, the mayor shows Cain four photographs he’s received: the first, an unforgettable blonde; the second, pills and handcuffs on a nightstand; the third, the woman drinking from a flask; and last, the woman naked, unconscious, and shackled to a bed. The accompanying letter is straightforward: worse revelations are on the way unless the mayor takes his own life first.
I’ll be honest, after seeing the widely varied reviews of The Poison Artist I wasn’t sure what to expect of Moore’s latest book. I originally passed on reviewing TPA because I was overwhelmed with other requests I’d committed to and, unfortunately let those reviews sway my decision. Even though that book was a 180 from The Dark Room, I still would like to go back and read it as I was highly impressed with his form of storytelling and writing style. Most of my Goodreads buds are aware of my deep love of police procedurals and my constant search for the very best ones; if you are a fellow lover of the sub-genre of crime fiction please pick this up. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
This story has all the qualities a reader looks for in a solid police procedural; sharp, fleshed out characters, witty banter, a complex mystery with many twists I didn’t see coming, and a conclusion that gave the reader closure without being too neat and tidy. I was particularly pleased once I read the author’s closing note; he stated that he wrote another novel prior to this one, but his publishing team felt he needed to write another story to pave the way for his 2018 publication The Night Market. I’m not sure if this means that these two books will be connected and the beginning of a crime series featuring Inspector Cain or if this is simply a case of wanting to use a familiar setting with varying characters in a “standalone” series. Either way, count me in! I’d love to see more of Cain and a continuation of some of the loose ends from TDR. I think my only complaint is that I wanted more! I felt like I blew through the book (it is only 293 pages after all) and had the instant sensation of when you’ve met up with an old acquaintance and you feel you simply blinked and it’s already time to say goodbye. I think the author has created something really special in the foundation of this book and could really take it places if he chooses to do so.
If you’ve had a chance to see the cover in person you realize how absolutely intriguing it is. It truly looks like the light is coming out of the page; I was highly impressed with the texture and depth the graphic team created and just had to touch on the impression it made on me as a tactile reader. This book heavily featured noir characteristics and managed to feel equal parts dialogue, action, and atmosphere. The author succeeded in drawing me in as a reader with his plot containing past and present tense, even though I typically do not read much in the way of historical fiction. There wasn’t a boring moment in this book and it did not focus too heavily on the procedural factors which kept the pacing up to my liking. Highly recommended for mystery fans needing a quick read that entertains the whole way through; I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for The Night Market in 2018 with my fingers crossed for more from the SFPD homicide department!
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my finished copy; it was a pleasure to provide and honest review.