I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley and this is my honest opinion of the book.
Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border. There have been a number of brutal killings. Young couple, courting in lovers lanes have been shot. New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story, his bosses desperate for him to get out of the way, Charlie well aware that this may be his only chance to keep his job. As he begins to investigate the story he becomes more involved. He finds himself almost compelled to help Lizzie Anderson, the sister of one the first victims. And as he meets more and more resistance from the people of Texarkana he becomes more determined to find the killer. He soon finds its more than just his job that's on the line, it's his life too that is also under threat.
This is the debut novel from Rod Reynolds and he hits the ground running. This is an assured novel, one that draws you in from the first page and keeps you there until the last page. Rod Reynolds has created an old school noir and the language and era it evokes is something to wallow in and enjoy.
The imagery is immediate. I could imagine Charlie narrating his tale, much like hero investigator in old film noirs such as Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. I could imagine driving down Texarkana High Street, see City Hall sitting in the middle of the road, straddling the two states. I could see the old automobiles parked outside diners, see GIs walking down the street and picture the fashions of the 40s. Even as I read the story I could hear the southern drawl of the characters.
The characters are well drawn. I liked Charlie, for all his faults, probably because he was well aware of these faults. He is a stubborn man but it is this stubbornness and refusal to back down that powers his investigation. There is a malignant presence in Texarkana that the author hints at in the characters of the power members of town hierarchy. I did get a little side-tracked by trying to remember which police department certain of the characters worked for but this didn't bring me to distraction and I soon got lost again in the flow of the story.
This book is called The Dark Inside and indeed it is. The story is dark, horrific murders that are terrorising a town. But there is also darkness from the town and its inhabitants. There is a malignant presence in Texarkana that the author hints at in the characters of the power members of town hierarchy. Charlie becomes more aware that the people who are supposed to be helping the town have their own dark secrets to hide. There is a palpable sense of dread created by the author. The reader is aware, slightly before Charlie that he is in danger and it is this that make this reader at least, route for Charlie even more.
What makes this story all the more fascinating is that it is loosely based on true events. There is a town called Texarkana and there were a spate of killings in 1947. Those murders however remain unsolved.
I don't normally comment on covers but here the cover image perfectly encapsulates the book. It is how I imagined the scenery surrounding Texarkana and hints at the danger the town holds.
I'm not going to say any more about the actual story for fear of giving anything away. If you like dark murder mysteries, novels set in mid century American towns, novels with a conspiracy at the heart of them or novels that draw you in and keep you there until the very end then this book is for you.
A gripping, dark, engrossing read and one which I found highly entertaining. I am impatiently waiting for more from Rod Reynolds.