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Dark Origins (Level 26, #1)
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Dark Origins (Level 26 #1)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,650 ratings  ·  420 reviews
Unabridged CDs • 7 CDs, 9 hours

A revolutionary, cross- platform, immersive storytelling experience centered on a series of crime thrillers from the visionary creator of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Audio CD, 10 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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William Thomas
I don't ask for any kind of literary high-mindedness when I read throw-away modern crime novels. This book, however, has some of the worst prose I have ever read, but the scene where the killer flenses the hair in his anus was a treat.

Duane Swierczynski writes amazing comic books. He does. You should go out and pick up his runs on Immortal Iron Fist and Werewolf by Night: In the Blood. What you should absolutely avoid is this "interactive" novel that he co-wrote with the creator of, ugh, the tel
Carmaletta Hilton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Currently there are 25 levels to categorize serial killers. One is someone who just stumbles into killing. Twenty-Five would describe the sadistic psychopaths who find pleasure in suffering. Now imagine that one person has become even more evil than the serial killers you've heard about in the past? Imagine someone who has absolutely no compassion, no feeling, not even a soul. A person lacking all these characteristics is out there and because he doesn't seem to show any of the "normal" traits o ...more
What a concept, read the story and watch short videos online that enhance the story. I really wanted to like this book but found myself disgusted with the cliche's early on. An old, hard as nails, cop who is only months from retirement and a washed up drunk who is suddenly the only person in the world who can catch a killer, are teamed up to solve the case. The killer has a God complex and thinks he has been sent by god to commit these crimes. I've read that all before. I was ready to give up on ...more
Review ex-posted on my blog:

Before I even start, let me just get it out there:


Alright, reading this book is like nothing else that you're ever read. It is an experience. You don't simply read this novel, you live it! You fear for the victims, an you're scared crapless by the killer. Every 20 pages or so of the novel, provides with a code that you put in at This unlocks a video clip that enhances the readi
Gary Sedivy
I regret that I have to say I finished this book. I don't particularly like slasher/torture books, for the same reason I don't go to slasher movies. I should have stopped at the book cover. Unfortunately once I start a book, I almost feel compelled to finish it. Sigh... Oh, well - warning there is a spoiler later on in this review.
The bad guy is creepy, extremely so. The good guy, named Dark, is an emotional wreck, based on a previous encounter with the bad guy. How's that for a natural set up?
Didn't love this. It was not particularly well written: the characters were shallow and there was no effort made to give back story or an explanation for how the villain became the man he was. It was full of stock characters and charicatures. What there was was an effort to disgust and offend the sensibilities of any decent person by listing horrible crime after horrible crime then describing the horrors of the killer's secret chamber at the end. It was the written equivalent of a slasher film, ...more
Elizabeth Nesbit-comer
There are so many errors in this book that it's almost unreadable. The timeline makes no sense. Some things are refernced as 20 years ago, but the current year makes it impossible, shoddy editing at best. Also, I don't think anyone can put together two shatter glass doors by himself in just a few hours.
I thought that a digi book by the creator of one of my favorite shows would be amazing, but all i got from this was boring and predictable. The videos were cheesy and I stopped logging in early
Level 26 was a breathtaking psychological thriller. Steve Dark is a former member of Special Circumstances, a section of the FBI that the public will never hear about. Special Circs investigates the worst of the worst in serial killers and often its agents are short-time members due to burnout, insanity or death. Steve Dark left because of all three. As the best agent, he was assigned the most difficult cases and his last case was to hunt down and eliminate a Level 26 killer named Sqweegel. Unfo ...more
Darcia Helle
If you are looking for a fast-paced, graphic thriller, then you might love this book. If you are looking for character depth and believability, I would not recommend this one.

I had several problems with this story. The main character, Steve Dark, is fairly young with a pregnant wife. They live in a million dollar home with no financial worries, yet neither of them appear to work. Sqweegel, the serial killer, also has total financial independence. We are never given explanations for how any of th
This book uses a new concept designed by the primary author, who is the creator of the TV show "CSI". The idea is that the book can stand alone as the first in a planned series of books, or the reader can choose to further immerse into the story via a website where you can see short films that purportedly bridge some small gaps between chapters in the story.

Honestly, I wasn't that interested in the multimedia experience, but I was interested in what the creator of one of my favorite TV shows wou
This book came in the mail--I received it as part of Dorchester Publishing's book club, because they have stopped sending out their own books (they have moved to a "download" only model, reflecting the current economic squeeze). So far, what do I think---it reminds me of a scene in "Spinal Tap" ("This one goes to 11").

page-turning yes, but also gimmicky, gratuitous, cartoonish and only "adequately" written. Much of it is highly implausible, even ridiculous. The problem may be that is not really
I enjoyed this book. There were some things I was able to guess and figure out ahead of time, but it was certainly tense enough that I plowed through it in less than 24 hours! I've read some reviews that were frustrated with the characters, but I went into this expecting entertainment, and that's exactly what I got. If you are looking for the great American novel, this isn't it. But if you want a fun book FBI thriller, you'll enjoy Dark Origins. The cyber-bridges were a fun and interesting addit ...more
I like the concept of this book, but the execution left me cold. There is a web site connected to this book, where you can go and watch video; however you first need to sign up with your email and relevant information. Hated that idea, but did it anything to see what the hoopla was about. The first video was really suggestive and horrible in content. The rest were less so.

The writing was okay, but nothing special. It seems Mr. Zuiker and his co-author are interested in being really gory and expl
Steve Mount
Zuicker and his co-writer introduce a very compelling concept, linking the book with video clips on a web site, accessible in sequence as you read. A few of the "cyber links" were a little lame - a text message and an email - but most of them were good video clips filling in gaps between the chapters. A few of the videos, BTW, are NSFW.

The book was a little rushed. The villain, Sqweegel, was a bit too superhuman, able to fly from one coast to the other in record time. The book explained this, bu
Carolyn Lessard
Serial killers are categorized by levels 1-25. In Anthony E. Zuiker's thriller series debut, "Level 26: Dark Origins," there is one so vicious, the FBI has given him his own category.

No one knows the identity of the murderer known as Sqweegel, or how many people he has killed. He comes up with innovative ways to administer death, and has an endless supply of resources to spy on anyone who tries to capture him.

FBI agent Steve Dark comes close to apprehending Sqweegel, who retaliates by killing Da
Steve Dark is a retired criminologist. The case that broke him and sent him running away with his sanity in tatters is back to haunt him. Sqweegel wants to play some more, and only his old adversary knows the rules well enough to be a worthy adversary. Can Steve Dark do this again though? Can his new life--his life with Sibby Dark and their as-yet unborn baby--take the strain of him climbing back inside an horrific serial killer's warped brain? You'll have to read the book to find out.

I wasn't s
Bis jetzt sind den Strafverfolgungsbehörden 25 Kategorien von Mördern bekannt. Von Zufallstätern der Stufe 1 bis hin zu Folterern und Schlächtern der Stufe 25, deren Grausamkeiten sich dem normalen Begriffsvermögen entziehen. Doch seit kurzem gibt es eine neue Kategorie, eine Dimension des Schreckens, die so noch nicht bekannt war, es gibt Level 26.

Seine Opfer: Jeder
Seine Methoden: Alles, was ihm geeignet erscheint
Sein Alias: Sqweegel

Sqweegel verbreitet Angst und Schrecken auf der ganzen Welt,
I found this book disappointing on at least two fronts. Number one, it really seemed to glorify the killer as opposed to law enforcement. And this is nothing like "Dexter," where the killer is the main character. Sqweegel is just too perfectly awful, with his skin tight crime suit (in white, no less, like a bride) and his time spent lurking in small uncomfortable spaces so as to be creepily in the "right" place at the "right" time. So he requires 4.5 pounds of butter to properly grease himself t ...more
Sean Harding
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cheryl Cooper
Glad I didn't pay attention to some of the bad reviews. I thought this was a great book. A bit intense to say the least!! I didn't watch all of the videos that went with it but then you don't really miss any of the story if you don't. Can't wait to get the next installment but in the meantime I will read one of my "cozy" mysteries for lighter reading.
This could have been a cool concept, a novel with an online component. This one just didn't nail it. It seemed like the online segments served to make it easier for the author to avoud describing some difficult scenes and, since everything that happened online is later described in the book anyway, needing a computer to further the plot became cumbersome enough that I gave it up fairly early on. I didn't really dig the plot itself, but it's possible this genre (about a super evil serial killer) ...more
Despite the odd spelling error and some time line stuff that didn't quite add up, I found this to be an intense thriller and I've read loads of serial killer stuff which is often predictable, but not the case here.
Original concept with the website tie-in, though I didn't bother with this, it stands up as a good crime-thriller without this element. Did wish there was some more explanation of the killers origins though, a few too many questions left unanswered!
Ick, ick and ick. I heard about this book before it came out and it sounded interesting. That was until I actually saw the book and noticed that it describes itself as "from the visionary creator of CSI." Wow. Self-glorify much?

He's said in interviews that he believes books need to "evolve" to keep up with television and video viewing and this is his plan to move reading forward into the new age. I say books are fine. Leave them alone.
I picked this book up in an airport bookstore and bought it because on the cover it mentioned that it integrated digital videos into the story. In some ways this was one of my early exposures to digital literature although perhaps it does not fit any traditional definitions. It is a paperback that crosses over into the digital realm so in some ways is an example of traditional literature crossing over into the digital realm and at least according to
this review, "proclaims itself as the world's
Reese Copeland
This was a great book. Exciting, kept you going. Written masterfully. The character of Squggel was written well and really made you hate the guy. Every time you think he can't do worse, he does. The ending was a fantastic climax to the story. The clips of the story really added to it. It helped to make this great story even better!
Teri Cooper
A right riveting crime thriller with a rather nasty killer at the centre of the story. Enjoyed losing myself in murder and mayhem and thought the accompanying YouTube clips of various scenes was a pretty cool concept. As other readers have commented there were a few cliches along the way, but hey, that's crime! 4 stars.
Intai tin sa mentionez ca aceasta carte nu este pentru oricine. Daca va plac filmele de genul Saw sau cartile scrise de Stephen King, atunci va va placea si aceasta carte. Eu mentionez dinainte ca nimic din ce am enumerat mai sus nu ma atrage, si totusi cartea mi-a placut, cel putin indeajuns incat sa trec peste unele lucruri. Recunosc, nu a fost ceea ce m-as fi asteptat sa fie.

In lume exista criminali multi, care mai de care mai periculosi, mai nebuni. Toti acesti criminali sunt clasati in func
Yuki Black

„Este bine cunoscut printre oamenii legii că ucigaşii pot fi clasificaţi după cele douăzeci şi cinci de niveluri ale Răului, de la oportuniştii naivi aflaţi la Primul Nivel, până la cei care acţionează premeditat şi care torturează – ocupanţi ai Nivelului 25.

Ceea ce aproape nimeni nu ştie – cu excepţia unui grup de agenţi de elită, fără nume, a cărui misiune este să-i vâneze pe cei mai periculoşi asasini, un grup de bărbaţi şi de femei care nu apar în nici un registru oficial – este că
I quite liked that one! A real page turner. Very creepy at times (Sqweegel is unforgettable), good story. The interactive part was also a nice and interesting touch.
Will definitely read the next one!
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Anthony E. Zuiker is the creator and executive producer of the American television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He produced all three editions of the CSI franchise: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. Besides his work on CSI, he also founded the murder mystery show Whodunnit?. He also assisted in the writing of Terminator Salvation. He is currently involved in Blackbox ...more
More about Anthony E. Zuiker...
Dark Prophecy (Level 26, #2) Dark Revelations (Level 26, #3) Whodunnit? Murder in Mystery Manor (Whodunnit?, #1) Whodunnit? Murder on Mystery Island (Whodunnit?, #2) Mr. CSI: How a Vegas Dreamer Made a Killing in Hollywood, One Body at a Time

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