Darkside by Belinda Bauer

Shipcott, a village in the West Country of England, is not a hotbed of crime.  That is, until a secession of darksidesnowing and ice isolates the town.  Car travel is treacherous, cell phone reception is spotty at best – and then the murders begin.

The first is Margaret Priddy, a paralysed woman who is smothered by a pillow.  As Jonas Holly is the sole policeman in the area, reinforcements come in the form of a crime unit, headed by John Marvel, a driven sot who has a strong mean streak.  He works his staff mercilessly, is very derogatory of the locals, and finds fault in Jonas almost immediately when he unknowingly disturbs the crime scene.

Jonas has his own problems – his beloved wife has muscular sclerosis and has once tried to kill herself.  Taking care of her is hard, and his regular job becomes worse due to Marvel’s derision and demands – and Margaret Priddy’s body is not the last one found.  The mother of a former childhood friend of Jonas’ is found drowned in a stream, and several residents of a nursing home also meet untimely ends.

The weather proves a horrific adversary, as outside contact varies between questionable and none.  Jonas also has his own special taunter, when the killer leaves notes at certain times that make light of Jonas’ ability as a policeman and guardian of the community.

Darkside has a resolution of sorts, but there’s a subtle “if” at the end that makes you wonder if the bloodbath is really over.

There are a few characters in Bauer’s first book Blacklands who reappear in this one.  I read Blacklands a few years back, and it was very much an unsettling read.  Darkside doesn’t waver from this, with its sense of isolation and dread.  Needless to say, the snow we had last week added to the atmosphere of the book.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: