In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

by Kristopher Cook
In the Dark by Loreth Anne White - Book Review - Kristopher Cook

When I was a kid, I became obsessed with a film called Mindhunters. For those of you who don’t know, which I’m guessing is most of you; it’s a movie about a group of FBI students looking to undergo hands-on simulation training to become profilers.

The catch, once they reach their destination, an island off the coast of North Carolina, the students begin to get picked off one by one.

The mystery and suspense come from the puzzles left for them and trying to guess who the killer is. Suffice to say; now that I’m older, more mature and wiser, the film, in general, is shit.

It stars Val Kilmer, Christian Slater and LL Cool J – how can it not be? Not you, Jonny Lee Miller, you’re great!

Mindhunters (2005)
Mindhunters (2005)

Anyway, my point is, I was always fascinated by the main premise, a group of strangers stuck on an island who must find the killer before the killer finds them.

In The Dark uses turns this premise on its head.

Instead of strangers on an island, they’re strangers in a cabin; except it begins to emerge that they may all be connected to an event several years earlier.

The cover of Agathe Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians’.

This book is a mystery and suspense thriller released in December 2019 by Loreth Anne White. I hadn’t heard of White up until this point, but her writing started to pick up buzz online and the premise, as mentioned above, is one I couldn’t stay away from.

Jumping between the present-day search party, and the events within the lodge a week earlier, the plot shadows closely to Agatha Christie’s best-selling crime novel ‘And Then There Were None’.

Fun fact; that was the third tile change for that book. When published in 1939 it was ‘Ten Little Niggers’, which was later deemed too racist, so they changed it too ‘Ten Little Indians’, which was again changed. I can’t imagine why?

The Christie novel is found within the cabin, along with a rewritten poem from the book that sequences the deaths of the characters.

Nine Little Liars thought they’d escaped. One missed a plane, and then there were eight.
Eight Little Liars flew up into the heavens. One saw the truth, and then there were seven.
Seven Little Liars saw they were in a fix. One lost control, and then there were six.
Six Little Liars tried hard to stay alive. One saw the judge, and then there were five.
Five Little Liars filed out the door. One met an axe, and then there were four.
Four Little Liars lost in the trees. One got stabbed, and then there were three.
Three Little Liars realized what they knew, One hanged himself, and then there were two.
Two Little Liars went on the run. One shot a gun, and then there was one.
One Little Liar thinks he has won. For in the end, there can only be one.
But maybe . . . there shall be none.

Loreth Anne White, In the Dark

Several references are made throughout the book, but I don’t want to give too much away. However, the Judge character is by far the most provocative and heart-wrenching.

The characters are all lured to the location under the guise that they’ve been invited to try out a luxury spa to bid on available contracts needed to keep the business running. As the holiday is free, and the money plentiful, how could any of them refuse?

Building Character

Included in this little excursion we have;

Detective Dan – An old P.I. who took on dirty jobs that nobody else wanted.

Monica McNeill – ‘A breathy brunette in her early fifties with perfect makeup. She was married to the balding dude sitting beside her,’

Dr Nathan McNeill- ‘A professor of mycology at the University of Toronto.

Bart Kundera – Owner of a car rental fleet and former mechanic.

Katie Colbourne – Now a travel documentary maker.

Deborah Strong – Founder of Boutique Housekeeping.

Jackie Blunt – Possibly an ex-cop?

Dr Steven Bodine – Cosmetic surgeon and Medical Director of the Oak Street Surgical Clinic.

Stella Daguerre – Pilot of the seabird taking the party to their luxury spa.

The majority of the characters are credible, with only Monica irritating me, which is probably her purpose amongst the group. I’d say in this vain you feel for most of them and would prefer that they don’t die horrifically… except her.

This makes parts of the book into a strange macabre theatre where you’re baying for blood and safety at the same time.

Other than that, they all serve a purpose in moving the story along.

It is easy to relate to the characters once they become isolated from city life and civilisation in general.

I have felt isolated and alone, as I’m sure most people have, so on this note it’s difficult not to feel sorry for some of them. On the other hand, it’s their own greed that’s brought them to this point, so you know?

In the Dark is an excellent book, offering up plenty of twists and turns, with suspense building all the time. Who’s the killer(s)? Why them? How do they escape?

These are all questions that a good book of this nature should ask.

Bad stuff happens to good people all the time. Babies are seldom born bad. Kindergartners seldom write criminal or convict on their lists of what they want to be when they grow up.
Loreth Anne White, In the Dark

Closing Thoughts

All in all, I thought In The Dark was a super suspenseful book that had me reading deep into the night.

The twists and turns are quick, the characters are quirky enough to offer substance to the plot, and the threat of death is never far away, whether that is from a mysterious killer or the nature around them.

For anyone looking for a new author to read, and a lover of mystery novels, look no further than In The Dark by Loreth Anne White.

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