Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on Into The Dark, the brand new thriller from Fiona Cummins. I’m a huge fan of the author’s work and I must admit that this book brought a little smile to my face, mysterious disappearances aside, because of the nod to one of the author’s previous books. I’m not going to say which – if you know, you know. My thanks to publisher Macmillan for the early copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.
THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.
THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.
One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.
In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:
What happens next?
Missing persons, cryptic messages and a whole lot of deception draw together to form what is yet another deliciously twisted tale from Fiona Cummins. From the very beginning of the book we are drawn into the mystery with an opening scene that is starts in a surprisingly light and almost upbeat way, but holds a kind of unease as you know that something is afoot. It starts as a gradual tingle but, believe me, by the end of the opening chapter you will be absolutely certain. Something strange has happened to upset the Holden families morning.
What I loved about this book is that the author has taken the seemingly perfect family situation – lavish lifestyle, beautiful home, successful business – and give it a wonderfully dark edge. Nothing is quite as it seems and Fiona Cummins has excelled at taking that suburban utopia and gradually dispelling all the myths and supposition about just how blissful it is. Slowly but surely throughout the book we are treated to a wider glimpse of the Holden’s lifestyle, from the points of view of mother and father, Piper and Gray, and to a lesser extent, of their teenage daughter, Riva. It is true that no-one ever knows what really happens behind closed doors, and in this book that couldn’t be more true. It examines in depth the ‘perfect’ friendships and domestic bliss and, just like picking at scabs, it often leaves seeping wound in its wake. There is so much deception, so much misdirection, it is hard to know who to trust, and each new reveal becomes more shocking than the last.
Now I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that I love the authors first ‘series’ surrounding The Collector. Devilishly dark, it tapped into everything I love about fiction with a wonderful crime/horror hybrid. Into the Dark is not as dark as its predecessors but it is as twisted, in a more domestic noir kind of way. But what really makes a book for me, this one in particular, are the characters. Our main police protagonist in this book is a real blast from the past, and there are so many quirks to DC Saul Anguish’s character that fans of the author may recognise. Even if the name isn’t immediately obvious to you, the more we get to know him, the more it will come flooding back. I loved this character, loved the dark edge to him and the battle between doing the right things and doing the things that feel most natural to him. Then there is the ‘Blue’ aka Dr Clover March. She is a forensic linguist and, it’s pretty safe to say, has a few behavioural quirks of her own. Between her and Saul I was completely drawn into the story, keen to see if they would get to the truth of the case. They are great characters I’d really be keen to see again.
There is a sting in this particular tale. Just when you think you know what is happening, the author lobs in a massive curveball to blow your theories apart. There are clues dotted throughout, things that we are privy to that the police may not be and which, if you are paying close attention, will get the scooby senses tingling so you know something is not quite right. Was I completely taken aback by discovering the truth. Maybe not – like I said, the clues are all out there. Was I still blown away by the ending. Absolutely. Expect more shocks and to end the book with a smile. Justice may not always be served in fiction, or in real life, but this time there is a certain satisfaction to the ultimate scene of the book, a very fitting ending to a fantastic read.
Perfectly paced, full of misdirection, unreliable narrators and subtle deceipts, this is another brilliant book by Fiona Cummins. Fans will love it.
About the Author
Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. When I Was Ten is her fourth novel, following Rattle, The Collector and The Neighbour.