Darkside (Exmoor Trilogy #2) – Belinda Bauer

In bleak midwinter, the people of Shipcott are shocked by the murder of an elderly woman in her bed. As snow cuts off the village, local policeman Jonas Holly is torn between catching a brutal killer and protecting his vulnerable wife, Lucy.

When the inquiry is commandeered by an abrasive senior detective, Jonas finds himself derided by his colleagues and ashamed to admit to Lucy that he’s been sidelined. It seems his first murder investigation may be over before it’s begun. But when he receives a series of increasingly sinister anonymous notes, Jonas is thrust back into the center of the case. Someone in the village is taunting him, blaming him for the tragedy. Someone thinks he’s not doing his job; someone seems to know every move he makes. And soon Jonas has to ask: Who’s hunting who?

Book Info: Print length: 437 pages. Publisher: Transworld Digital. Publication Date: 6 Jan 2011

Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. In 2018 her eighth novel, Snap, was longlisted for the Man Booker prize. Her books have been translated into 21 languages. She has also written the thriller High Rollers under the pen-name Jack Bowman.

My Review:

I’m on a mission to read the back catalogue of Belinda Bauer this year and finished Blacklands last week (my full review is here). Darkside is the 2nd in the series and can be read as a standalone, but if you follow my blog you will know I never, ever, knowingly read any books in a series out of order.

Darkside is set in the same village as Blacklands and begins about 4 years on from the tragedy featuring Stephen Lamb and child serial killer Arnold Avery. The villagers of Shipcott have finally moved on from the violence and horror until the discovery of an elderly woman found murdered in her bed.

PC Jonas Holly has returned to his childhood home in Shipcott with his wife who has recently been diagnosed with MS. He’s hoping the role as the Village Policeman will allow him more time to care for his wife as she struggles with the awful effects of MS. However when he finds himself caught in the middle of a murder investigation and then another victim is discovered he knows he has to catch the killer before they strike again and again.

We are introduced to DCI Marvel, a character straight out of the 70’s. A rude, politicially incorrect and inappropriate sexist man who finds himself in charge of the investigation in the midst of winter. He takes an instant dislike to PC Jonas Holly and it becomes obvious that he is there to make Holly’s life as miserable as possible.

There are some cameos from characters in the first book, and it’s nice to see how they have grown since Blacklands and how they are coping with life.

This book isn’t as fast paced as the first, however it is much more atmospheric with the snow and the weather becoming almost as important as the characters and the storyline.

Darkside certainly kept me guessing throughout and by the end I was feeling emotionally drained. I would definitely recommend it to any lovers of crime fiction and I have already started reading the final book in the trilogy; Finders Keepers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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