Title: Darkness All Around
Author: Doug Magee
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Years ago, Risa’s husband Sean disappeared, and later in the week, her best friend Carol was murdered. Now, Risa has rebuilt her life. She is married to a politician campaigning for office and her son is a high school football star. But when Sean reappears with memories of Carol’s murder that he couldn’t have unless he was at the crime scene, Risa’s life is turned upside down as she tries to protect her former husband and her family.
Darkness All Around is a startling look at the line between truth and lies. At the beginning, Risa is sure of herself and everything around her. When Sean shows up, though, it casts everything Risa thought she knew into a new light. Where has Sean been all this time? Did her current husband have anything to do with her former husband’s disappearance? These questions keep the reader guessing, as it’s clear that nothing is as it seems and no one can really be trusted.
Risa is an endearing character; it’s clear her life has been difficult, and it’s great the way she has pulled things together. She’s also a thoughtful and considerate mother who has issues with her son’s status as a football star. She cringes at the violence of football, and how celebrated her son is when he tackles and injures a player. It’s an interesting discussion, and I appreciate it being included as a subplot in this novel. It gives it an extra depth and helps to develop and flesh out the character of Risa.
The mystery in Darkness All Around is well done. Sean is a good person who wants to do the right thing, but his memory is completely unreliable. As a result, it’s difficult to trust him. He thinks he remembers something awful, but from the beginning it’s clear that these memories aren’t exactly what they seem. It’s interesting to see how Magee draws out the twists and turns and ensures this book grips the reader from beginning to end.
Darkness All Around is a novel worth reading if you’re looking for a thriller that will really keep you guessing. I had some issues with the book’s constantly changing pace - sometimes it would be slow, then forge ahead at rocket speed - but it was engaging and I consumed it in one sitting. If you’re looking for a thriller that might also be a solid book club pick, I think with Risa’s issues and the twisty nature of this novel, Darkness All Around would be a great choice.