The Dark by Emma Haughton

My thanks to Jenny Platt at Hodder and Stoughton for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, for which I received a copy of the book in preparation. This review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all.

And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes . . .

Review

I hate the dark. While I know rationally it’s not the dark I fear but what my mind conjures when it’s dark – it still doesn’t make a darned dot of a difference. And, with something bordering on self inflicted sadistic curiosity, I was drawn to The Dark by Emma Haughton.

Based on a UN research station in Antarctica, doctor Kate North arrives looking to escape a personal tragedy. But as they head towards 24 hour darkness and plummeting temperatures rendering physical contact with the outside world impossible, Kate begins to uncover murderous secrets she wishes she had remained in the dark.

It’s being touted as an ‘Agatha Christie on ice’ – to my shame, I’ve never actually read an Agatha Christie (sorry!) but from the little that I do know, it does seem to fit the bill. It is after all a ‘whodunnit’ read, and one that I raced through. I had absolutely no idea who the killer was, there being red herrings aplenty throughout. And whilst I only figured it out at the same time Kate did, my only quibble was that the murderer’s justification (if there is such a thing) didn’t seem strong enough…..but equally, if a person is so-minded to kill someone, then they’re probably not the most logical anyway!

I loved the setting of The Dark, unusual and incredibly claustrophobic it adds an additional layer of tension throughout. There’s almost a Big Brother type feel to it. Whilst they are there on a research basis, that they cannot leave and completely trapped by the elements adds further peril. I certainly felt the impact of the location as I read, at times feeling panicked at the mere thought. The helplessness of humans vs the might and scope of nature is a very real threat throughout, scarier I found than the looming danger of a murderer living among them. This element of the novel is incredibly well written.

The narrative is solely told in the first person by Kate, the present dissolving at times into flashbacks as she struggles to comes to terms with recent events in her life. Her own struggles add depth to the character, adding an element of doubt over her capabilities as she seeks to numb her pain. It’s only throughout the novel as a whole that we discover what actually happened. Although trapped together on the research base, for the most part she maintains a distance from her colleagues. That she doesn’t really make too many meaningful connections opens the suspect list wide open and as the reader I felt I was casting around in the dark (ho ho) for clues to cling onto, which further added to the intrigue.

I absolutely loved this book. After a slow lead in where the sense of place was thoroughly established, the pace stepped up at the perfect time and kept me enthralled throughout. It took lots of turns I wasn’t expecting and ensured I was thoroughly entertained. A book I would recommend without hesitation.

If this review has convinced you and you’d like to purchase this book, please consider supporting your local indie bookshop either in store, or online via Bookshop.org. If you don’t already have a particular bookshop to support, can I cheekily suggest The Rabbit Hole in Brigg, North Lincolnshire. Although I work here now, it’s been a place I’ve loved since it opened four years ago. I may be somewhat biased, but it really is the best!!: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/Therabbitholebrigg

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