Friday 20 July 2012

Book review : Until The Darkness Comes – Kevin Brooks

When you read (and review) a lot of books, it's often quite disconcerting to see how many parallels you can draw between them. Having just finished Patrick Conrad's No Sale, jumping straight back into a novel whose central character once again isn't sure how much of what he is experiencing is real or imagined, this time due to the large quantities of alcohol and class-A drugs that he is constantly consuming, gave me a sense of déjà vu that was slightly tedious. And that's a real shame because once I'd read a few chapters and got into the story, I was gripped.

Within just a couple of paragraphs, Kevin Brooks manages to create a real sense of impending doom and tension that instantly has the reader on edge. If this were a Hollywood movie, you'd have the eerie lighting and the creepy music warning you that all is not well, but Brooks manages to achieve this with just a few well-chosen words.

Having not read A Dance of Ghosts, the first novel featuring PI John Craine, I did feel that I was lacking some of the background knowledge of his previous case and past history that would have helped me to understand where he was coming from and to empathise with him. By the end of the book, I'd warmed to him though, understanding that despite being severely screwed up, his heart is in the right place.

The action takes place on sleepy Hale Island off the Essex coast, where – rather ironically – John Craine has come to get away from it all and escape the fallout from his last case (which is touched on without being fully explained, so I now want to go back and read A Dance of Ghosts to find out what went on before and created the John Craine that we see in this book). The author vividly evokes the creepy, fog-enshrouded mudflats and fetid sucking mud that can be flooded by the sea, cutting the island off from the rest of the world until the tide turns.

As John wanders around in a drug-hazed quest to rediscover his childhood haunts, he stumbles into a bee's nest of drug smuggling, high level corruption and organised crime that he can't walk away from, as he becomes involved on a more personal level. The suspicious behaviour and knowing glances of the islanders whenever John encounters them is reminiscent of The Wicker Man and this added to the sense of unease and impending doom as I read.

It's a gripping plot and Kevin Brooks' mastery of evocative, tension-building prose creates a novel that is totally unputdownable. I'm sure the only people who won't like it will be Essex tourist office !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099553821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099553823
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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  1. Thanks for the book review - this sounds right up my street! I am always on the look out for good reads and like to read reviews first so I don't waste my precious money! Now that the Summer has finally arrived, I might get some 'me time' in the garden!

    1. I need to choose my stash of books for taking on holiday to read by the pool :)

  2. Sounds like a good read :)


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