Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A K Benedict
|Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A K Benedict|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A chilling thriller combining a serial murderer in this life and the souls who linger rather than go on to then next. Sixth Sense meets police procedural and it works!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: February 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Maria King sits by the Thames mudlarking - sifting through the washed up treasures - on a regular basis. Only today she finds a ring in a box with 'Marry me Maria' on the lid in braille. Blind from birth and now blind by choice, the words can be for no one else but Ms King. However a greater surprise awaits inside the box: the ring is still on a finger belonging to the last girl who received such a proposal. DI Jonathan Dark is assigned to the case, not realising what he's taken on or the sort of help he'll need to call on. The dead are all around him, his plan is not to let Maria join them.
Any author profile that includes the fact that the writer works in a room full of teapots and a head severed, (of course) from a ventriloquist dummy attracts my attention. Indeed, A K Benedict is that sort of author, choosing in this case to write about fantasy tinged crime in an attention-grabbing way.
AK (if I may be so familiar) weaves a world where the dead are always with us, communicating and, at times, coming in jolly handy. (At other times, scaring the wotsits out of us.) We can tell she's been thinking about it as these aren't just spectres. These are former people governed by laws of nature, predation and degrees of safety (or peril) that differ from our own world but are there just the same. I won't spoil it for you as the gradual revelations of the spirit universe are cleverly drip-fed to us, adding to the pervading sense of intrigue. It will affect you once you finish the book, even if only because you're constantly checking the gaps under your doors.
The corporally solid side of the story revolves around Jonathan, a good detective with a disintegrating private life. The man himself is troubled, witty and in so much trouble on several levels. Naively thinking looking after his brother's house will solve his problems is perhaps one of his greater misjudgements and, considering his marital troubles that's saying something.
Yes, the copper whose wife develops other social interests (shall we say?) due to his devotion to duty is a bit of a cliché. Although in this case it doesn't stay in the forefront, allowing us to get back to the nail biting and the big question: who is the stalking murderer? That's a question that keeps us guessing right up till the end, the baddie coming deliciously out of left field even for those of us who have guessed. They're also a presence in our mind throughout; even when they aren't mentioned they lurk in our imagination awaiting the next scene.
The other question that may be on our lips is if I was being stalked by a murderer would I want to keep wearing a blindfold? I know that seems an odd one but when you consider Maria wears one by choice all the time, it makes sense to ask.
It's actually the blindfold and Maria's reason for wearing it that adds another layer of quirk. Having been blind all her life, she can't get used to being suddenly gifted with sight after surgery. Therefore, while undergoing psychological counselling, the blindfold gives Maria a feeling of security while giving us the total jitters on her behalf.
The main characters may demand our attention but the supporting cast deserve it just as much. For instance, the undertaker who can't let go of his wife (for all the right reasons). On the other side of the law, we also meet people for whom The Ring isn't just something for The Finger and have a Jeffery Deaverish idea of punishment. (Blood alert: there is much.)
This story is a meeting between the hair-raising and the everyday, which makes it a good read for that chilled night in… unless you're on your own… Do you hear something scuttling?
(Thank you, Orion, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If once you've read this you realise that you enjoy a bit of fantasy and blood with your crime then it has to be The Wolves of London - The Obsidian Heart Trilogy (Book 1) by Mark Morris. If you prefer less blood but want to retain the scar factor, then it's Slade House by David Mitchell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A K Benedict at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A K Benedict at Amazon.com.
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