Friday, February 7, 2014

Review of Darkhouse by Alex Barclay (Harper Collins, 2005)

Nearing his fortieth birthday, NYPD Detective Joe Lucchesi has taken a year’s leave of absence after a kidnapping case goes wrong, leaving the kidnapper and a mother and child dead.  Joe’s wife, Anna, is an interior designer and the family move to a small village in South East Ireland for her latest project: to restore an old lighthouse.  Their sixteen year old son, Shaun, attends the local school where he meets and falls in love with Katie.  It seems like an idyllic life until the partner of the kidnapper catches up with them and Katie disappears after a night out with Shaun.  Duke Rawlins and Donnie Riggs grew up in rural North Texas where they formed a twisted and dark bond.  Now that Donnie is dead, Duke is compelled to seek revenge against the officer who shot him. 

Darkhouse was a book I edged my way through given the underlying tension and sense of foreboding, which left me uncertain as to whether I really wanted to find out how the story is resolved.  Much of that tension is created through the intersecting storylines and juxtaposition of everyday family and village life in Ireland in the early 2000s, with the dark world of Duke Rawlins and Donnie Riggs in North Texas in the late 1980s.  Barclay’s writing is vivid and well paced and balanced.  The characters are nicely developed throughout the story and the interactions between them well portrayed, especially the suspicions and strains amongst the Lucchesi household, the police and the village population.  There is also a great sense of place, time and social worlds in both Ireland and Texas.  The key strength of the story though is the plotting, with a nice mix of carefully ordered tension, feints, and reveals that produces an edge of the seat read without descending into a gore fest.  Overall, a very good crime thriller.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will be find it hard not to include this book into my wishlist given your review, Rob.