Darkside by Belinda Bauer is the follow up to Blacklands which I read and enjoyed a couple of years ago. I bought Darkside as soon as it came out but with the way these things go I found myself reading other things first. (This, by the way, is why I’m wary of start a series.)
It’s not quite a sequel to Blacklands although it’s set in the same part of the world and Steven Lamb, the hero of that book is a character in this. It’s a few years later and Steven is now a teenager but the book follows the village policeman Jonas Holly. Holly is relatively young and had a promising career but had to give it up when his wife got sick. They now live in the village of Shipcott. When an elderly woman is murdered as the local policeman Holly is obviously involved, but after a bad start with a team sent over from Taunton he soon becomes sidelined even as the investigation grows and more murders follow.
Something happened to me when I read this book that used to happen all the time and hardly ever seems to happen any more. It’s the reason I read and the thing I look for when I read. I got so swept up in what was happening that I couldn’t put the book down. I just wanted to keep reading in order to find out what happened next. So for that reason alone I really loved this book. I thought the characters were great and the interactions interesting. The head of the Taunton team, who takes an instant dislike to Holly, seems at first blush to just be a barely competent detective who is merely there as an adversary and contrast to Holly, but actually he’s more interesting than that. Holly’s relationship with his wife and the relationship between his work and looking after his wife are also story threads that engage.
There is one thing, and that is the ending. It wasn’t that I was disappointed or annoyed, merely that there was something about it that was left unanswered. Maybe it didn’t need to be and so I chose to reserve judgement.
9/10 – a slightly ambiguous ending but it didn’t spoil an excellent book.