by Lisa Unger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: This review written as part of my Amazon Vine Voice series
I recently had the pleasure of previewing an advanced copy of Darkness My Old Friend by Lisa Unger (Crown 2011). This is the first novel from Ms. Unger I have read and will not be my last. Ms. Unger has characters galore throughout the novel but cleverly weaves them together for a very exciting, although somewhat predictable ending. If one is looking for good beach reading material this will certainly qualify.
The story begins with a mother (this character is also an author of some renown) and her daughter moving from New York city to The Hollows, a small community (the author includes nice insights into the mother-daughter relationship. If you have a daughter, you might like these). This move is driven by mom’s attempt to provide a more “normal” surrounding for her teenage daughter to grow up in. The daughter witnesses a man digging in the forest for no apparent reason, and the mystery and drama is on.
Enter Jones Cooper a retired cop who is currently acting as handyman and general all purpose good guy for the neighbors. A local psychic gets involved predicting terrible visions involving Mr. Cooper and a victim yet to be clearly identified. You’ll have to read the book to see how these two plot elements intertwine with the daughter’s experience.
The dialogue is excellent, intricately plotted and credible. I can easily see why Ms. Unger has such a enthusiastic following among mystery lovers. My only criticism is that the story construction overall bleeds into the line that separates mystery from literary fiction. There is a bit more discussion of emotions than I usually like in a mystery novel. This, though, is a preference likely unique to me and shouldn’t interfere with anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. In fact, you may find it more appealing for those types of scenes.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.