Today’s team review is from Alastair, he blogs here https://northpointsocial.wordpress.com/
Alastair has been reading Darkroom by Mary Maddox
Four Stars – Tight as a drum crime thriller, sharply drawn characters.
Who knew Colorado was the home of so many art-lovers? Not me, that’s for sure, but Mary’s richly detailed page-turner soon drew me into a netherworld of shady drug-dealers, twisted nightclub owners and wealthy swingers.
Maddox handles the plot extremely well, with a slowburn start that soon gathers speed, as the body count and crime reports stack up. It’s a complex story set against the usually dull world of museums and galleries, but very well told, with some wonderful action scenes that really grabbed my attention. The baddies are, in general, a slimy, devious bunch and Maddox peppers the story with little asides that colour their flawed characters, and make them more believable because of the damage in their past lives.
Likewise, the good characters have you rooting for their success throughout this thriller, with the female lead Kelly being especially engaging; resourceful, yet vulnerable, determined to seek out the truth, confront her own fears and take action when the chips are down. Just what you want in a heroine.
The overall mood of the book combines influences from movies like Blue Velvet, Lynch’s masterpiece TV series Twin Peaks, the wry, dark underbelly of Fargo, or the can-of-worms world inhabited by Paul Newman in the Seventies classic noir, The Drowning Pool. Maddox has a clipped, reporter-like style which suits the subject matter and her rendition of places is replete with beautifully sketched details. She knows her chosen world intimately, and it shows in her perfectly observed prose.
The only reason this story loses a star for me is the portrayal of Animal – the club bouncer with a heart of gold. Having met many bouncers in the UK, I could never get beyond the fact that almost all of them are steroid-popping, always angry, drug-dealers buddies/enforcers. The notion that one might save a damsel in distress seemed about as likely as finding out Donald Trump personally funds three orphanages in Mexico.
I would have also liked a little bit more love action between Cash Peterson, the world-weary detective and Kelly, the amateur sleuth. There are sparks, but they need to fly a little higher…
One final, but crucial point – the book has been extremely well edited. Every line is sharp, each scene is there for a reason and not a word is wasted.
Job done Mary Maddox, good work.