JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
Into the Dark Desolate Night
by John Darling
5 of 5 Stars
“Into the Dark Desolate Night” by John Darling introduces the reader to Detective Anderson through a series of tightly-related short stories. These short stories serve as bite-sized chapters that can be read in one sitting. Within each chapter, cases are solved, supporting characters come and go, and Detective Anderson’s layers are revealed with the turn of each page.
John Darling does a great job of keeping the novel unpredictable yet coherent. The book flows with a rhythm that is disconnected yet seamless because the collections is equally character- and plot-driven. Better stated, the chapters are plot driven, centered around the various cases Detective Anderson and the agency encounter. However, the book as a whole is character-driven.
Early in “Into the Dark Desolate Night”, Detective Anderson solves the case of the Prime Cut Killer in his small town of Bridgeville. Not one to be a public figure, Detective Anderson tries to fade into obscurity by traveling. Detective Anderson settles in Miami and turns his unavoidable fame into a thriving business – The Anderson Detective Agency. Detective Anderson pulls together a dedicated team of investigators for his Miami-based detective agency, bringing on his former colleague, Detective Coombs, as a senior partner.
As hardened as Detective Anderson appears to his colleagues and the crooks he tracks down, “Into the Dark Desolate Night” lets us into the detective’s innermost thoughts. We get to see how he deals with the pangs of loneliness, the subtle things he notices that he files away in his mental database and the immoral judgement calls that he makes in the name of justice. It’s those facets of his attitudes and behaviors and keep this novel from being bland. Instead, the author John Darling breathes a life into Detective Anderson that is unique yet familiar.
“Into the Dark Desolate Night” is not a one-trick-pony. Instead of making Detective Anderson the focus of the reader’s attention each and every chapter, John Darling utilizes the supporting characters to great effect. Detective Coombs is a great friend and colleague who does a great job of keeping Anderson on point, on and off the job. Detective Anderson’s Office Manager B.B., equal parts beauty and brains, is like a Swiss Army Knife of help for Anderson. Lt. Jimmy Owens is Detective Anderson’s main contact on Miami’s Police Department who definitely gives Anderson a run for his money in terms of being tough as nails.
I found the female characters interesting in this novel. Although the women who help him are attractive, there is no sexual tension between them and Anderson. Instead, he forms direct and indirect relationships his clients – and even the victims. This creates subtle story arcs that makes “Into the Dark Desolate Night” less of a murder-mystery-whodunit and more of a tale of a man navigating his emotions within a profession that requires him to objective.
I like the fact that no matter how much you think you know Detective Anderson, he grows and changes. He kicks his vices. He secretly falls in love with a victim. He opens his heart to love at the least expected moment. He holds information from his colleagues. John Darling stretches Detective Anderson’s character just enough to bring out the human in a man who deals with death for a living. Darling also puts the other characters in the driver’s seat and lets the reader see other aspects of the culture within the Anderson Detective Agency.
If you are a fan of mysteries, “Into the Dark Desolate Night” is a great read. If you like characters that you can grow to love and learn as the story progresses, this is a great novel. John Darling crafted an enjoyable reading experience with characters that are comfortable like family by the end of the book, with Detective Anderson leading the charge.