Regular readers of this column will know that I generally review local authors who are either self published, Indie Writers or published by small imprints. The common link between them is that in most cases, you probably never heard of them. There are exceptions of course, and this is one of them.
Clearwater author Lisa Unger is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have been published in more than twenty-six countries around the world. Her newest mass market paperback is called Darkness, My Old Friend, e-ISBN 978-0-307-46519-1, © 2011 by Lisa Unger and Crown Publishing. I read the Kindle® version.
The story is resplendent with characters, from whom it is difficult to really pick the main protagonist. Is it retired detective turned handyman/dog walker/ investigator Jones (pronounced Jonas) Cooper? High school freshman and loner Willow Graves? Eloise, the local psychic? Could it be Michael, the bad boy come home to the Hollows to solve the mystery of his mother’s death while cleaning out the old homestead? Cole, whose mother ran away when he was a child, and whose step-mother has just followed suit?
I haven’t even considered the plethora of incidental and less important characters, or what may in fact be the most important character of all – the one that links all of them together: The Hollows itself, the small, seemingly perfect suburb to which they all have some kind of tie, and of which Jones says there is “Too much history there, like everything in The Hollows. Everything was tangled and connected across years and families.”
Agatha Christie’s fictional sleuth Hercule Poirot once said of a case in which he was involved, “There are too many clues here.” If Darkness, My old Friend has a singular flaw, to paraphrase Mssr. Poirot, it may be that “there are too many stories here”. By my count there are at least four major threads and three minor ones, and any of the major story arcs could easily provide the fodder for a standalone novel. Unger even gives at least three endings viewed from individual character’s perspective and leaves the door open for a couple of them to make a return visit.
I give Darkness, My Old Friend four stars because the author managed to confuse me with so many side issues and clutter that the murderer (did I mention that there was a murder buried – literally – in there somewhere?) caught me completely by surprise, something that doesn’t happen much after fifty-plus years of reading mysteries.
Tampa readers can find Darkness, My Old Friend in mass market paperback and Hardcover at Barnes & Noble located in Carrollwood at 11802 N. Dale Mabry Highway Tampa, FL 33618; Books-A-Million at 9570 US Highway 19 North,
Port Richey, FL 34668, booksellers everywhere in the greater Tampa Area and from the author’s web site. Ebook readers can download Darkness, My Old Friend for AmazonTM Kindle®, B&N Nook®, Sony® Reader and other e-pub outlets worldwide.
Readers will note that most e-book sellers offer free reader software for their format that can be used on a variety of devices, including PC’s, Smartphones and Tablet PC’s.