Monday, March 11, 2019

Book Review: "Some Choose Darkness" by Charlie Donlea

There are so many thrillers and crime novels out there these days, so it takes something special to stand out. Sometimes it's crazy twists, surprise endings, or action that leaves you breathless. Other times it's the characters that get your attention, whether they're the heroes or the villains.

Some Choose Darkness, Charlie Donlea's upcoming thriller, didn't necessarily surprise me once the story got going, but its characters, particularly its protagonist, absolutely wowed me. That's what elevates a thriller.

Rory Moore is a forensic reconstructionist. She spends her days reviewing cold cases to see what the police and investigators might have missed, and she has an uncanny ability to forge a connection with the victims, to envision the most minute of details. But she knows her limits, and often needs to take breaks between cases to ensure she doesn't burn herself out or cause herself significant anxiety.

When Rory's father dies, as an unofficial partner in his law firm (she has her law degree but doesn't practice), she's responsible for disbursing his cases to other attorneys. But there's one case she can't pass off, because the client is about to be paroled, and the presiding judge worked closely with Rory's father on the terms of his parole. So reluctantly, Rory agrees to represent the man for the sake of the parole process.

In the late 1970s, the city of Chicago was rocked by the disappearances of five young women. Their bodies were never found and police couldn't find any clues, so the perpetrator was nicknamed The Thief by the media. It took meticulous research and investigative work by an autistic woman named Angela Mitchell (although back then no one knew what autism was, so she was labeled mentally ill) to help police break the case and identify the perpetrator. But Angela disappeared before the police could find out how she pulled all of this information together.

Forty years later, The Thief is about to paroled for Angela's murder. Rory doesn't understand why her father took such an interest in his case to the point that he represented this man for so many years, and even agreed to manage his financial assets why he was in prison. But the more she digs into the case, and the work her father did on The Thief's behalf, she uncovers secrets she was never meant to find, and connections between her father and Angela Mitchell that make her wonder if she ever knew him.

Donlea's previous book, Don't Believe It, was fantastic, so I had great hopes for this book as well. While I've read a lot of thrillers about murderers who enjoy the rush of killing, it wasn't until Donlea started revealing more about Rory's character, and telling Angela's story, that the book really hit its stride. It was the first thriller I've read that had people with autism as main characters who weren't necessarily the victim, and both characters were tremendously fascinating.

I really like the way Donlea tells a story, and he threw in some definite twists and turns along the way—some I saw coming and some that surprised me a bit. The narration shifts mainly between Rory in the present day and Angela in the late 1970s, with some periodic interjections from The Thief. The book really starts picking up steam, and I found myself racing to see how everything would be wrapped up.

If you want a thriller with lots of heart-pumping action, Some Choose Darkness isn't that book. But Donlea knows how to create suspense, and that, coupled with some unforgettable characters, makes this a book worth reading. I hope we haven't seen the last of Rory Moore.

NetGalley and Kensington provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

This book will be published May 28, 2019.

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