Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why I like Dark Fiction

Perhaps we all hide shadows in our past. Perhaps dark fiction appeals to us because it sheds light on someone else's shadows, making ours less scary without ever threatening them. Perhaps... But I must admit, I've read some pretty dark stories recently. Maybe it's just the lengthening darkness of evenings drawing in as the year moves to fall. Or perhaps I just enjoy dark fiction because it allows me to "experience" the adrenaline rush of danger without ever having to face the risks involved. After all, when asked as a teen, would I prefer a long boring life or a short exciting one, I chose long and boring because of all the short exciting lives I could enjoy in imagination.

Anyway, here are some book reviews of dark, definitely not boring lives. Find some coffee - probably a dark cup - and see what you think.

Scar Tissue (The Mindsight Series Book 1) by M C Domovitch, starts with a young woman escaping a captor who has been torturing her. Her physical scars begin to improve, but the mental scar is obscure and unrelenting--she can't even remember the face of her torturer. Retreating from her former identity as a gorgeous model, Ciara crosses the country, takes up an entirely unexpected job, and learns some unexpected skills. She who once was made up to be beautiful makes others up to be normal... and danger lurks. It's moderately predictable, curiously fascinating, and a really good read. Enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

Spice Trade by Erik Mauritzson is a Swedish noir mystery, blending ice with Moroccan fire in a tale of drug and human trafficking. The protagonist's past is kept nicely separate from his job, and his wife is pleasingly supportive--two facts which make this tale intriguingly different from other Scandinavian noirs. The dialog has a sort of pedantic stiltedness that perfectly matches the careful investigation, and it works. Maybe a well-balanced four-star coffee but no... it's a dark tale and it needs its coffee brewed five-star and dark.

Another dark police procedural, this time set in America, is The Eulogist by Jeffrey B Burton. Again the protagonist blends dark and light. Retired from the FBI with a wounded hand, he lives a peaceful life with a peaceful woman and contented dreams, but it doesn't take much beyond an accident of circumstance to draw him back into the dark. Relationships are nicely drawn with just enough background detail, characters are intelligent and nuanced, and mysteries within mysteries abound with ever advancing danger. A cool tale with clever surprises, this is another to enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

On a more light-hearted (but still dark) note, Baby Take a Bow, a Grace Street Mystery by Jane Tesh, is set in a small town among a fine cast of curious characters, from private eye to listener to ghosts to... well, there's even a rather entrancing fox. And there's murder, hilarious mayhem, plus some serious notes and wise touches of humanity. Try some well-balanced smooth three-star coffee with this smooth well-balanced tale.

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