Review: “A Darker Sky,” Mari Jungstedt, Ruben Eliassen

Pros: Great characters
Cons: Some small loose threads
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

In Mari Jungstedt and Ruben Eliassen’s A Darker Sky (The Canary Island Series), Erika is toward the beginning of a two-month yoga retreat. After going out one evening, she’s found dead and posed like a famous painting. Three people are doing everything they can to catch the killer: Diego Quintana (the Chief Inspector from the small town), Sara (a journalist), and Kristian (a consulate employee who used to be a police officer). Diego is an old friend of Sara’s, making it easier for Sara and Kristian to keep up with what’s going on.

 

It’s pretty common at this point to have first-person point-of-view sections for the serial killer. It lets the reader in on his or her mindset, as well as additional clues, without having to give the perpetrator away (if done well). Unfortunately it seems to be trending lately, and it’s often done poorly. In this case I really like it. Because of it, we get to see that this is not a stereotypical serial killer. There is no sneering condescension toward the police. There is no arrogant lack of concern. We get to see that this killer is nervous and scared, and fully expects the police to catch up with him at any moment. It’s a great way to take an overused device and make it useful again.

The pacing at the beginning is quite good. It’s a slow exploration of the characters and locale, and it made the story more personal. While the pacing does pick up later, this tale is more about the people than the police work. Speaking of which, I really liked most of the characters. There are some stereotypes, but even they tended to get a little more detail here or there.

One of my favorite moments was a scene in which the serial killer clearly wanted to do the stereotypical serial killer monologue but gets thwarted. Given how ubiquitous those scenes are, I loved this break from tradition.

I only had two problems with this book: some of the little plot threads or minor characters seem to go missing, and some of the back-and-forth time jumps confused me (especially those centered around Adriana).

 

NOTE: Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: June 21, 2016

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