Author: V.M. Giambanco
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Source: The Book Depository Affiliate Program
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Twenty-five years ago in the woods near the Hoh River in Seattle, three boys were kidnapped. One did not come home.Review by Nara
A quarter of a decade later, a family of four is found brutally murdered, the words thirteen days scratched near their lifeless bodies.
Homicide Detective Alice Madison ran away from home as a child, one breath away from committing an unforgivable act; as an adult, she found her peace chasing the very worst humanity has to offer. Madison believes these murders are linked. And she has thirteen days to prove it.
To stop a psychopath, Madison must go back into the woods and confront the unsolved mystery of the Hoh River Boys. She must forget her training and follow her instincts to the terrifying end as enemies become allies and, in the silent forest, time is running out to save another life.
Slated to be "the most compelling and chilling crime novel of 2013", certainly, after reading it, I can say that The Gift of Darkness was compelling and most definitely chilling. Honestly, I don't really read that many crime novels, so I can't really say whether it is indeed "the most" compelling and chilling, but I feel that perhaps it doesn't quite make that standard. There were a few issues with the pacing and thriller side of things which stopped me from enjoying the novel much more.
The pace of the novel was a bit slow, but actually, that was initially to Giambanco's advantage, as it aided in building the tension and creating intrigue about the murders. However, as I approached the quarter mark of the book, I found that the pace was much too slow- there were just too many unnecessary details included which caused my mind to wander while reading. Details upon details are thrust upon you as you read, so it's a bit difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of information. Quite a few times, I found myself having to double back to check who certain characters were- we were given very little introduction to many of them. At about halfway, though, the pace picks up considerably as we see more action. We see much more of the thriller aspect come into play, whereas the first half was more so the building up of the mystery.
What really surprised me was that quite early in the novel, we are actually told who the killer is. Again, this was initially to the author's advantage, as it aided in building tension when the police start following the wrong leads and such. However, in the second half of the novel, this was a bit of a let-down, because, knowing the identity of the killer, the plot became absolutely predictable. I could predict practically every event that occurred, some which were probably intentional by the author (as she gave hints about them- both small and large), others which were likely supposed to be surprises, but unfortunately were not.
Throughout the novel, there are a series of flashbacks with seamless transitions from present to past. The style of the transition at times made it slightly difficult to tell whether the scene we were reading was in the past or the present. The confusing thing about this was that the flashbacks were written in present tense and the present was written in past tense. To further add to the confusion, at times, the present was written in present tense, depending on which character's point of view we were seeing things from. One aspect of the flashbacks that I really liked was the way the author revisited certain flashbacks, adding more details each time, until finally the bigger picture is revealed.
Although there were some issues with the pacing and predictability of the novel, Giambanco was quite skillful in building tension, and creating a mystery that had me riveted. The ending was a bit open, leaving room for a sequel, and I would certainly enjoy reading another book about Detective Madison.