Darkness Falls by Alex Knight

I picked up a copy of Darkness Falls following a panel at Bute Noir last year. I’m determined to make a dent in my TBR mountain this year and so what better reason to tuck in and share my thoughts? Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 16 September 2021
Publisher: Orion

About the Book

Twenty years ago, her brother was murdered. Tonight, she’s found his killer.

Thessaly Hanlon is four hours into a long drive home through the night when she pulls into a 24-hour roadside diner to take a break. She’s exhausted, but when she hears a chillingly familiar voice from the next booth, she wonders if he’ll ever sleep again.

The voice is unmistakable. It belongs to Casper Sturgis, the man who murdered Thessaly’s brother two decades before, and then disappeared without a trace.

Thessaly makes the decision to follow the killer. As Thessaly begins to unravel the second life of Casper Sturgis, she finds that digging into the past can have deadly consequences…

My Thoughts

This is the first book I have read by Alex Knight (or Mason Cross for that matter) but it definitely won’t be the last. I must admit that I was completely intrigued by the premise when the author spoke about it at Bute Noir, but I still didn’t know quite what to expect. One of my friends was hugely enthusiastic and I can absolutely see why. This book grabbed me from the start and refused to let go, with a blistering pace and sense of urgency that kept me rapt to the very last page.

A chance rest break finds Thessaly Hanlon within spitting distance of the man she believes murdered her brother some twenty years earlier, Casper Sturgis. What follows is Thessaly’s attempt to uncover where Sturgis has been hiding and to bring his to justice for the murder he skipped out on all those years before. Now, if it was as simple as calling the police and Sturgis being arrested in a roadside diner this would be a very short book. Thankfully, for readers if not Thessaly, it’s not that simple and what follows is a tense, unpredictable and often surprising tale in which a killer is hidden in plain sight and is willing to do almost anything to protect his new life.

I really liked Thessaly as a character. A brilliant, determined and strong female lead, she is so focused on finding Sturgis that her own safety almost becomes a secondary concern. Whilst she does the right thing and engages the help of the police, her understandable frustration at their inaction sees her take matters into her own hands. I liked her feisty nature, and her certainty that she had found her man was infectious, even if those around her didn’t entirely believe her. Alex Knight has done a superb job of drawing us into her world and capturing readers attention and I found I was unquestioning in my belief in her certainty. She was exactly the kind of character I could champion and I wanted to see her come good.

As for Sturgis, or the man she believes to be Sturgis, there is something menacing and dark about his character, even though we see little of him in the early pages of the book. Perhaps it is how he is portrayed, or simply his size and stature, the overwhelming confidence he seems to exude, that lets you know he should be kept at arms length, or maybe it is Thessaly’s certainty of his guilt, but the author has really managed to make a relatively unseen character feel undoubtedly threatening. Then there is his wife, Casey, who knows nothing of Thessaly’s assertions about her husband, and who has her own issues to deal with. I felt her character to be really authentic, the fear that rippled just beneath the surface adding agency to her element of the story.

There are moments where I found I needed to just go with the flow, certain aspects of the story where you could see we were being set up for something crucial in the coming chapters, but the exact whys and wherefores did not play out quite as I expected. There is a degree of uncertainty surrounding the whole case, scenarios in which is appears that not everyone is on the level and that the threat posed to Thessaly may be coming from more than just Sturgis.

The timing of the narrative is top class, driving the story along at a real fast pace, and the further into the story we move, the more urgency you can feel come to bear on what is happening. Setting is perfect, the kind of small town USA that allows certain things to go unchecked, remote enough to keep Sturgis off anyone’s radar, but large enough to allow anonymity. Having live in small town USA, Alex Knight captured the spirit of these communities well and i had a real sense of place whilst reading. Told from the points of view of Thessaly, Casey and Sturgis, this is a book that really got me excited, and had me on tenterhooks as we move swiftly towards a really dramatic and shocking final showdown.

If this is what to expect from this author, I’m definitely signing up for more. A top notch thriller that was right up my all-American, white picket fenced street.

About the Author

Alex Knight was born in Glasgow and studied English at the University of Stirling. He works as a systems administrator by day, and writes thrillers by night. Alex lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children.