Martin Reese is a bit of a reverse Jack the Ripper: rather than killing women and taunting the police about their failure to catch him, he uses police files on serial killers to track down their victims’ missing bodies, then taunts police about their failure to find the victims themselves. Detective Sandra Whittal isn’t amused, but more importantly, she worries about how such an obsession may eventually escalate. For Martin, part of it is personal: his wife’s sister went missing and presumed killed when they were younger, and even though the killer was caught and executed, his wife has never quite gotten over the experience. Yet another part of it is just creepy as hell. For example, we learn that Martin actually met his wife in the first place because he’d tracked her down after having his interest piqued by her sister’s case. And later on, a serial killer recognizes the darkness in Martin and tags him as a potential protege.
Find You in the Dark is being billed as similar to Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley, and certainly, Martin Reese’s obsession with missing serial killer victims is twisted enough to put him in league with these two fictional killers. But the story itself didn’t quite live up to the promise of its concept. It’s a solid enough thriller, and its twists and turns were surprising enough, but it was very much touch and go in terms of holding my interest, and to be honest, I’m not sure why. Part of it may be that Martin lacks the sheer charisma that make Dexter and Tom Ripley so compelling as anti-heroes. He also lacks the depth of menace that makes Hannibal Lecter such a compelling villain.
Another part of it is that the story itself felt unsure of where exactly Martin lay in the divide between hero and villain, and that this uncertainty never felt particularly gripping. Martin had a bit of a hero complex, wanting to ferret out bad guys’ victims, and he had a bit of a creepy side with his obsessive fascination with the bodies in the first place, but by the end of the book, the overall impression of him was that of a protective father, and his concern for his daughter’s safety overtook pretty much both sides of his personality. While his need to protect his daughter was understandable, the result was that Martin as a villain lacked teeth, and after a point, his creepy hobby felt more pathetic than truly menacing.
There were some strong parts, and I liked the police procedural aspects with Detective Whittal, but overall, it was a pretty uneven read and ultimately not very memorable.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.