The other day I finished reading Matt Hilton’s latest crime novel, ‘Darke’, and wanted to let everyone know how much I’d enjoyed it.
On the surface this is a gripping crime thriller about an apparently senseless drive-by shooting, which brings echoes of a past personal tragedy for the investigator, DI Kerry Darke, who lost her sister to a Cumbrian serial killer (the Fell Man) as a child.
There’s lots of breathless action and a good attention to police procedural detail (the author served as a police officer so he knows what he’s talking about). There’s also a more emotive take on the effect the case has on Kerry’s somewhat fragile mental health. And it’s here that the book diverges sharply from a standard detective novel, because like the young kid in The Sixth Sense, Kerry can “see dead people”. Whether these ghosts are real or a product of her imagination she’s never quite sure (although I have my own opinion on that) but they lead her on two separate quests – first to solve the current case, and then to shed light on the victims of the serial killer in her old childhood haunts.
This is a really intriguing ‘mash-up’ of crime novel and the supernatural, and thanks to the author’s skill it really works. I had two minor gripes – one, that I found the identity of the Fell Man a tad confusing and two, that Kerry was perhaps at times a little too disturbed to function as a serving police officer. But I loved the almost Gothic descriptions and the sense of melancholy that pervaded the narrative, and the ending was a good, satisfying tying-off of all the loose ends. So if you like your crime fiction seasoned with the odd ghost or two, I can thoroughly recommend this book.