Places in the Dark by Thomas H. Cook


This is third book I’ve read by mystery writer Thomas H. Cook and I have to say that I continue to be impressed. The critics seem to adore Cook and have described Places in the Dark as “a serpentine tale of long-buried secrets leading to murder and betrayal” (The Orlando Sentinel) and “complex, multi-layered and haunting” (Romantic Times).

The story concerns brothers William and Cal who grow up in an idyllic seaside town in Maine in the 1930s. They are as different as night and day: William an energetic dreamer who rushes through life filled with hope and enthusiasm and Cal, the older more pragmatic brother. Still, despite their differences, they are close. Then Dora March comes to town.

It gives nothing away to say one brother ends up dead, but the book’s mystery isn’t so much a whodunit as a what are the circumstances surrounding the death.

Cook’s skill comes from his ability to create character. His mysteries unfold slowly, but I don’t mean to say that his books aren’t page turners. You’ll turn the pages, but I think you’ll also linger over Cook’s beautiful writing. Cook is a master of layering his character’s motives, of giving them real interior lives. He’s also pretty good at leading us on and this is particularly true in Places in the Dark where things are not always what they seem.

If you like a well-written mystery, I highly recommend Thomas H. Cook. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

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