Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for Dark Objects, the standalone thriller from Simon Toyne. This is the first book I’ve read by the author but a superb place to start. My thanks to Tracey Fenton and Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the tour invite and to publisher Harper Collins for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is about:
About the Book
An Impossible Crime Scene
A wealthy woman is found brutally murdered in the locked fortress of her London mansion. Surrounding her are four mysterious objects, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees.
An Inescapable Past
As a teenager, Laughton’s life was destroyed after witnessing her mother’s brutal murder. Now a mother herself and forensic analyst, she is an expert on how to read crime scenes – but never works live cases.
An Uncatchable Killer
Pressured by the lead detective to help with the investigation, Laughton begins to realise that the objects left by the body are not just about the victim, they’re also about her. Her childhood was destroyed by one killer. Now she must catch another before her daughter’s is destroyed too.
If you like a sharp, stunningly plotted, locked room mystery then you need to be reading Dark Objects. Simple as that. They don’t come much better than this. Complex, twisted and with an ending that completely threw me, I was pulled into the book from the very beginning, taken in by the characters and the overwhelming sense of mystery that enshrouded the case, and I devoured the book. It was another of those ‘why haven’t I read this author’s books before’ moments. And although this is billed as as standalone thriller, if ever the author decided to expand upon it, the styling, and the characters, certainly lend themselves to a return engagement.
Both investigating officer, DCI Tannahill Kahn, and university lecturer, Laughton Rees are people I felt at ease with very quickly. True, it’s fair to say that Laughton has a few … quirks of character, but the more we learn about her, the more sensible and understandable those traits become. She’s a very dedicated mother, even if relations with her daughter are complicated, but also a very intelligent and logical woman who comes to play a key part in solving this most complicated of cases. As for Khan, there is a quiet determination about him that I liked. A kind of patience and understanding nature and a natural chemistry with Laughton that makes them a great team. I was intrigued by their methods, pulled into the sphere of their investigations, and enjoyed seeing them working through the logistics and possibilities of this seemingly impossible murder, very carefully and cunningly plotted by the author.
The book is packed with mystery, and an underlying tension that starts building from the very first page. There is a very ominous feeling to the opening scenes, and although we don’t ‘see’ the carnage that is found, there is no doubting that sense of the impossible as the cleaner slowly and methodically works her way through a veritable fortress. A home protected by so much security it beggars belief that anyone could penetrate the defences to wreak havoc on the people who live within. And yet … well that’s precisely what happens, and with the tension ramped up to the max and a skin-crawling voyeuristic nature to the first chapter you realise that just anything could happen.
I loved the uncertainty and that is cast upon this case from the very start. Every intricate detail is very carefully managed, although it never feels it. We are fed exactly the right amount of information at just the right moment, the author balancing the confusion and the intrigue perfectly. I wanted to know why the killer seemed intent to bring Laughton into the case. What the motives were with regards to that almost as much as for the murder. There was a very obvious suspect from the start, but was that solution a little too perfect?
The more Simon Toyne reveals to readers, the more elaborate and confusing the case became. Part of me expected the worst, guessed that in a story this brilliantly bewildering, that the easy answer couldn’t possibly be the truth. Or could it? The more we learnt about the victims the more my feelings about the whole book changed, and my suspicions about who may be responsible. As for motive – what would drive someone to murder a woman in such a violent and elaborate way? Well, that takes time to come to the fore but, if I’m honest, did nothing to help me identify a killer who remained elusive until the very last.
I loved all the little touches about the book and the characters, The gossipy nature of the neighbours, whos hunger for the salacious gossip was only moderately masked by their faux shock and horror at the turn of events. The little affectations of Laughton’s character and what sits behind them, and her fierce, if misjudged, defence of her daughter. Even the quiet moments when we get a taste of Khan’s personal life all add a touch of humanity to the story, keeping it very grounded in reality and as a result, scarily plausible no matter how impossible it may all seem.
Dark, twisted and complex, Dark Objects is an edge of the seat thriller that had me completely riveted from start to finish. I was completely absorbed by the plotting, the story and the characters and would love to see them again. Most definitely recommended. Fans of proper, multi-faceted and suspenseful mysteries need to get this on their to be read shelf and fast.
About the Author
Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy: Sanctus, The Key and The Tower. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive to focus on writing. It was the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK and an international bestseller. His books have been translated into 27 languages and published in over 50 countries. Simon lives with his family in Brighton and the South of France.
Follow the tour: