DARKNESS ALL AROUND – Doug Magee
Mystery / Suspense
Braden , Pennsylvania – Present Day
Eleven years ago a woman was brutally murdered. Sean Collins disappeared, and Risa Collins's life changed forever.
Now, Risa is married to Alan Bensen, and her sixteen year old son, Kevin, calls Alan dad. Risa spends most of her time at The Kitchen, a restaurant owned by her parents and passed on to Risa. The Kitchen is a gathering place in town where gossip and information is the norm. Today is scrimmage day in the high school football-crazy town, and Risa is required to be at the scrimmage to watch Kevin play and to support her husband. When reporter Henry Saltz tells Risa he needs to talk to her privately she has no idea that what he has to say will change everything.
Eleven years ago G.G. Trask confessed to the murder of Carol Slezak, and the simple minded man has spent the last eleven years in jail. Today, Sean Collins returns from the dead with a broken memory and a confession that will rock the small town and Risa's world.
It will be left to Risa to put the puzzle pieces together and figure out what really happened the week Carol was murdered and Sean disappeared.
DARKNESS ALL AROUND is a compelling who-dun-it. Did Sean in a drunken rage murder Carol, or did someone else? What part did Alan play in Sean's disappearance? Risa will have to determine what is truth and what are lies if she is ever going to figure out what happened to her friend Carol and her husband Sean.
The cast of DARKNESS ALL AROUND is large and varied; Risa is a woman living a lie, though she doesn't know it; Alan is a hungry politician who will do almost anything to win; Sean is a former alcoholic with a traumatic brain injury and a broken memory. Henry Saltz is a young reporter who first reported locally on the murder of Carol and was forever changed by that one event.
DARKNESS ALL AROUND is a well written murder mystery, and the beginning of the book is gripping. The plot is unique and well crafted, and wondering what really happened kept me reading to the end of the book. While I enjoyed the story, the character development left a lot to be desired. Each of the characters felt rather two-dimensional and stereotypical. Their actions and thoughts were often not believable. Probably the most disappointing character in the book was Risa. She is the central player connected to all the other players and yet I never really felt as if I knew her. Despite the fact that I did not like Alan, I felt Risa showed absolutely zero affection or support for him. Sean was an enigma. While on one hand I had sympathy for him, on the other I did not understand his destructive behavior. Alan was portrayed in typical fashion for a politician—more concerned with his campaign than with his family and determined to win no matter on whom he has to trample.
All in all, I would recommend DARKNESS ALL AROUND for the story. If connecting and empathizing with characters are not important to you, then DARKNESS ALL AROUND is a good choice for an excellent mystery/suspense.