: Book Review – The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds, (Faber & Faber, 2015)

cover68275-mediumPub Date Sep 3, 2015
Faber & Faber
The Dark Inside
by Rod Reynolds
Mystery & Thrillers, Literature/Fiction (Adult)


Blurb: Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective. 1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close. But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

The first thing that struck me about this book, it seems banal to say, was the cover. A sepia image of a rusty old van, and in the background a rural surroundings rather poor, desolate.

I was looking for a vintage noir, after a long summer marathon of film noir 50s (all because of Magan Abbott that prompted me to see again Kiss Me Deadly by Robert Aldrich) that gave me a kind of taste for the old syle, scenes in black and white, felt hats, asphalt wet from the rain, and so I came across the Dark Inside, debut novel of Rod Reynolds, a young British author with definitely a bright career ahead.

Before choosing this title from the catalog of Netgalley, I knew nothing of the author, much less of the publishing history of the book. I knew only from the blurb that were on the border between Texas and Arkansas, in the 40s, just after the end of World War II.

Protagonist, Charlie Yates, a journalist rather problematic (a failing marriage, a career in the balance) sent from New York City in the deep south to cover a sad history of serial murders of young couples. There is only one survivor who perhaps saw in his face the killer.  This the only clue, the only starting point.

And this fact was enough to intrigue, to get interested in history. A story of a closed community, perhaps peasants in denim dungarees, but less harmless than vintage photos of the period could remind. Essentially the novel was inspired by a true story, the unsolved Texarkana Moonlight Murders,  a term coined by the news media in the spring of 1946,  so many elements are designed to give a more realistic and true dimension to the narrative tension.

For those who love the novels of James Lee Burke, like me, a wedding invitation, especially if we consider that it is the first work of this British writer, who reproduces the American  rural slang of 40s with a certain nonchalance.

So an enjoyable reading, not without its moments of tension, what I advice to lovers of old school noir and I hope to see soon translated into Italian.

Rod Reynolds was born in London and, after a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, he decided to get serious about writing. He recently completed City University’s two-year Crime Writing Masters course and The Dark Inside is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to an early digital  Advanced Readers Copy of this book.


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