Find You In The Dark…
About the Book:
In this chilling and disquieting debut thriller perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s Hidden Bodies and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, a family man with a habit of digging up the past catches the attention of a serial killer who wants anything but his secrets uncovered.
For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.
Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?
On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body—a young and missing Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.
Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realises that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought…
It’s been many years and a lot of crime thrillers since a novel has frightened me as much as Find You In The Dark. The last novel that put such fear into me was Silence Of The Lambs, read back in the 1990s. Less of a ‘whodunit’ and more of a ‘how the heck is this all going to play out’ type of thriller, Find You In The Dark is a thrilling and terrifyingly clever story.
There’s a transparency to Find You In The Dark that really worked well in terms of ramping up that fright factor. It’s more about the twists and connecting the dots than not having a clue about who is doing what. I liked that I knew who the killer was. I liked that I knew exactly what Martin Reese was doing. All too often, thrillers seem to be aiming for that surprise perpetrator, the one person who seemed all above board suddenly being revealed as the resident psychopath. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it’s just tiresome and stretches believability. But, there is a very big difference between transparency and predictability, and Find You In The Dark is not at all predictable, in any way. The twists and connections being made never ceased to keep me on guard. Knowing who was doing what in no way prepared me for what they were going to be doing next. And believe me when I tell you, my shocked face was my regular face whenever I was reading this novel.
In terms of Martin Reese, he was an interesting character, infused with many shades of grey. Objectively speaking, he was a liar. He was also a pretender, excellent at projecting multiple versions of himself. For more than twenty years he had been hiding his hobby from his family, which to be frank, was completely understandable given how creepy weird it was. While I really liked Martin in terms of who he was within the context of his family, there was definitely something off about him. In terms of character development, Martin Reese was right up there with the best of them. Perfectly balanced in his creation, you couldn’t wholly like nor dislike him, he was just too complex for ordinary assessment. His ability to manipulate a situation to suit his own needs, combined with his intelligent foresight and meticulous attention to detail, gave me cause to both admire him and be terrified of him in equal measure. In the end, he proves himself as a family man, but the way he goes about it left me with no doubt that he was not a man to underestimate.
Detective Sandra Whittal was a character I enjoyed a lot. For thrillers to work for me, they need to have a police presence, as I lean more towards the police procedural line of crime thrillers more than the domestic noir. Whittal was as authentic as they come and I was as drawn into her obsession with Martin Reese just as much as she was. That transparency that I mentioned earlier really came into play here with Whittal. She figured out pretty early on that Martin was shady, she seemed to hover around the truth, connecting some of the dots smartly while missing others. In the background, her partner was beavering away at his own angle, knowing full well that while Sandra was on point about Martin, she was way off base in terms of the case at hand. The working dynamic between these two was solid. The personal dynamic was a little more complicated, but I really like where the author went with this.
Nathan has a great way of writing that gives every character, both primary and secondary, a three dimensional quality. I felt secure in my knowledge of each person, and they were all unique too, flawed and edgy. As to the serial killer, well, he really was well drawn out. He made my skin crawl. Human life was entirely expendable to him. His level of planning was beyond meticulous. This was a person who lived comfortably in the shadows, who had mastered living unseen. He was the ultimate puppeteer, which I found far more terrifying than a straight up killer who has little self control. This guy oozed control, both over himself and others. Despite being in a situation of his own making, I really felt sorry for Martin for having ever had the misfortune of putting himself into this guy’s line of sight.
I have read that this novel has had the rights sold for a TV production. It certainly has the plot complexity and character development to support coming to life on the small screen. I just hope we get to see it here in Australia if a show does come to fruition. Find You In The Dark throws out some thought provoking threads around right versus wrong and the repercussions associated with vigilante justice. I agree with Detective Whittal when it comes to Martin and his body finding extracurricular adventures. Despite what he kept telling himself, there was something more beneath the surface of his supposed public service actions:
“It means he sees the major part of what he does as something to be hidden away. Something about himself he wants to keep obscure, because it’s closely linked up to a deeply antisocial something or other about him. I think he’s more interested in what got these girls dead than he is in getting their corpses back into family hands.”
Thrilling and disturbing, Find You In The Dark gets my full recommendation.
Thanks is extended to JKS Communications for providing me with a copy of Find You In The Dark for review.
About the Author:
Nathan Ripley is the pseudonym of Naben Ruthnum. Naben grew up in Kelowna and spent most of his twenties in Vancouver, making frequent trips to the Pacific Northwest setting of Find You In the Dark to see concerts and, eventually, to conduct research. His interest in pulp, thriller, and horror fiction never flagged even when he was focused on writing criticism and literary fiction. Stepping into the Nathan Ripley pseudonym to write crime fiction was a natural step, as Ruthnum continued to write short stories, eventually winning the Journey Prize. Find You In the Dark is his first novel. He lives in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto.
Published in Australia by Text Publishing
Released on 2nd April 2018
Published in the US by Atria Books
Released 19th June 2018
Published in Canada by Simon and Schuster
Released 6th March 2018
Available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook and Audiobook