The Darkness Inside by John Rickards

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The Darkness Inside by John Rickards

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: A slow starter that goes from cool to hot in 100 pages. A puzzling chilling crime thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2007
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0141021164

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Alex Rourke retires from a solid career with the FBI in part due to the unorthodox method he is forced to employ to catch Cody Williams, a sickening serial child predator, and thus prevent him from ever being able to strike again. The climax to the case causes Rourke such personal trauma that he suffers a nervous breakdown. After a slow recovery, he finds succour in a new role within a small firm of private investigators, run by a one time colleague in the FBI who is, thankfully for Rourke's fragile mental stage, also a very close and dear friend.

Seven years pass uneventfully until out of the blue, he is contacted by the Bureau to interview Williams once more. Satisfyingly, Williams is now dying of pancreatic cancer but Rourke is puzzled as to why he is asking for him. Facing this monster once more may stir the demons that Alex Rourke has worked hard to banish and he is understandably very reluctant.

Finally, Rourke agrees to speak to Cody Williams and report back to the FBI for it seems that the dying man really does have one final hand to play. It takes just three visits and a little outside intervention from a mystery source to discover that one of Cody's victims, Holly Tynon is actually still alive and being held hostage somewhere.

To keep Rourke on the hook, Williams confirms that he didn't kill the girl but refuses to give up any further information without something in return. Alex Rourke is now faced with a terrible choice. Which ever way the die fall, either he or Holly has a lot to lose.

John Rickards really does know how to spin a great and captivating tale. Whilst the style of his writing took some time to get used to - Rickards writes in the first and third person simultaneously - the story caught my full attention around page 75; which is about forty pages longer than it usually takes. At that stage I was not just on the hook, I was willing to climb in the net.

The story is fast-paced and relatively believable, if you consider that the protagonist was an FBI agent, well used to gunplay, but to my delight, a little rusty in the action stakes. It rose to a very satisfying crescendo and concluded sensibly and, in my opinion realistically. I was hoping that the culmination of the tale was not going to have sugar poured all over it and I was contented to find it delivered a bitingly real twist. It ended the way it should have ended and far from being irritated that I had some idea of the outcome, I found myself feeling that justice had been done to the story at its close.

I heartily recommend you buy this book. It's a really intelligent read - John Rickards writes with conviction and the clever way he switches between first and third persons is simply so right.

If you like this, you might want to try Nicci French, Losing You or perhaps Ian Rankin, The Falls.

The Darkness Inside was sent to us by its publisher, Penguin Books, for which we thank them very much.

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