Kemper's Reviews > The Dark Room

The Dark Room by Jonathan   Moore
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2017, 5-0, crime-mystery, whodunit

I received a free copy for review from the publisher.

Inspector Gavin Cain is in the middle of having a body exhumed when he is pulled off that case and rushed to meet the mayor of San Francisco who has received some photos which apparently show a woman being raped along with a threat to release more pictures if he doesn’t kill himself. The mayor denies knowing the woman in between gulps of bourbon, but Cain is less than convinced. As Cain investigates he quickly becomes sure that there’s a link between the blackmail and the shocking discovery they find in the coffin he was having dug up. Coincidence? I think not!

This is the second book in what author Jonathan Moore is describing as a neo-noir trilogy that started with his excellent The Poison Artist and will conclude next year with The Night Market. However, this is a stand-alone story that just hints at a few events of the previous book so it can be read on its own.

Overall this has a couple of very compelling mystery components with some horrifying elements to them, and the way the plot unfolds make the revelations and ultimate resolution very satisfying. At that surface level it’s a well done whodunit story, but it’s a deeper and more interesting book than just a simple detective novel. While The Poison Artist was a psychological suspense thriller that had a brooding and dreamy atmosphere The Dark Room is more of a straight-up police procedural. Both books make excellent use of their San Francisco location with Moore describing rainy streets filled with fog that make you think that Sam Spade might be walking just around the corner.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about these books is that they are incredibly tight with both of them coming in at less than 300 pages, and yet they feel like full and rich stories. Moore does his business with an admirable economy that doesn’t skimp on the character details. Cain takes shape over the course of the book as a competent and moral detective who is neither an action hero nor Sherlock Holmes. He’s also got a sub-plot about his relationship with his agoraphobic girlfriend, and that’s where we see a whole other side to him that adds more layers.

I’ll definitely be reading the third and final book of this trilogy when it releases, and I’m so impressed with Moore at this point that I’ll be checking out some of his earlier work, too.
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Reading Progress

April 29, 2017 – Started Reading
April 29, 2017 – Shelved
May 21, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Melissa Was Gavin Cain in The Poison Artist (which was fab, by the way, and I read it because of your review) and I"m not remembering him?


message 2: by Kemper (last edited May 23, 2017 10:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Melissa wrote: "Was Gavin Cain in The Poison Artist (which was fab, by the way, and I read it because of your review) and I"m not remembering him?"

I'm not 100%, but I don't think he was. He may have been in a minor role and I'm just forgetting. There is at least one supporting character from Poison Artist who shows up here, but this is a completely independent story. It sounds like the third one will be it's own thing, too.


Melissa Kemper wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Was Gavin Cain in The Poison Artist (which was fab, by the way, and I read it because of your review) and I"m not remembering him?"

I'm not 100%, but I don't think he was. He have ..."


I'm going to have to move this to the top of the pile.


Kemper Melissa wrote: "I'm going to have to move this to the top of the pile. ..."

Since you liked Poison Artist I think you'll enjoy it.


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