In the Dark is a very intelligent and brilliantly structured crime mystery. DI Adam Fawley returns in this second book from Cara Hunter, to lead a complex police investigation, involving murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape, theft and a right few other crimes. It is a smart, highly charged and engrossing story with surprises and dead-ends galore.
New owners of a house in an exclusive area of Oxford are undertaking renovation work in their basement when they inadvertently knock a hole through into the neighbour’s basement. Through the gap, they catch a glimpse of an emaciated woman and a child. The owner of the other house is Dr William Harper, a retired University professor, in his seventies, apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s, and living alone, well supposedly alone apart from a woman and child imprisoned in his basement. There are inclinations similar to the Austrian case of Josef Fritzl, considering there’s every possibility that the child was conceived and born in the basement.
The investigation into the incarceration of the woman and her son gets off to a frustrating start because she won’t/can’t speak (PTSD), the child can’t and the elderly man is often incoherent. The investigation does continue nevertheless and expands into revelations well beyond a case of kidnapping and imprisonment. As the team delve into the search of the house, they discover a dead body tightly wrapped and taped in a blanket beneath a garden shed. Now it’s a murder case! The body is identified as Hannah Gardiner and one of the major suspects will be her husband Rob, someone they were suspicious off when she was first reported missing 2 years earlier. The police procedural aspect was very well researched and organised.
The backbone of the novel is told through the eyes of DI Adam Fawley, but what I loved about the structure of the book was the way other parallel events and information sources seamlessly integrated with the main story and added to a sense of hyperactivity. These information titbits such as emails, reports, news articles, and other police activities, never overtook the main plot and maintained the narration and intrigue at an enthralling pace. I never felt the story abate or wander and at multiple points, the cliff-hanging statement or observation just needed me to go on a few more pages than planned. Page turning at its best!
The police characters worth mentioning, besides Fawley, include; DS Gareth Quinn, DC Chris Gislingham and PC Erica Somer. This array of wonderful characters are all individually and distinctly drawn to give us a captivating range of personalities that sometimes are complementary and sometimes fractious. Fawley is capable and purposeful but is emotionally quite deep while he struggles silently with devastating personal issues following the suicide of his son, and the growing unspoken distance with his wife. I believe this team of competent police characters will stand the test of time as the series continues – hopefully.
I highly recommend this book and Cara Hunter is definitely one author that I will faithfully watch for new releases. Many thanks to Penguin Books (UK) Publishing Limited and NetGalley, for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.