Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw
eBook review copy; 336 pages
Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw is a very highly recommended
thriller/mystery told through the distinct voices of two different
characters. This is Pauw's American debut novel.
The first character we meet is Ray Boelens. Ray was convicted and imprisoned for killing his
neighbor Rosita Angeli
and her four-year-old daughter, Anna. He's now being moved to a forensic
psychiatric institute. It is clear that Ray is on the Autism spectrum
and has a difficult time with emotions and reading the motives of
Iris Kaselstein struggles with her job as a lawyer and being a single
mother to three-year-old Aaron. Aaron has some behavioral issues and
Iris is doing the best she can to care for him while still working.
Luckily her law firm allows her to work part time. It is challenging
when a call from Aaron's daycare necessitates halting an interview with a
client. The client's family has long-time ties with the firm, so even
though he is a sleaze-bag facing charges for using an underage teenager
in a porn film Iris still has to represent him. She tries to call her
mother to pick up Aaron, but Iris's mother is a cold and distant
self-centered woman who will rarely disrupt her plans for others.
When Iris inadvertently uncovers information that leads to her discovery
that Ray is her brother, she sets out to gather information on him and
meet with him. Ray is insistent that he is innocent and did not kill
anyone. Iris decides to investigate his case, hoping it will lead to an
In the meantime her mother, who never said a thing to Iris about an
older brother, is now trying to discourage Iris's involvement with Ray.
She insists that Iris does not know Ray and what he is capable of doing.
Unable to handle his outbursts, she put him in a home for troubled boys
at age nine. Although she apparently used to sneak off and visit Ray
for years, she stopped years previously. She resolutely refuses to
discuss anything about Ray with Iris.
None of this deters Iris who doggedly continues her investigation into
Ray's crime, as well as why her mother would hide his existence from her
and apparently from her deceased father.
Ray is having his own struggles as her tries to cope being in the
criminal psychiatric unit. He didn't know he had a sister, but Iris
continues to visit him and work on his case.
I really enjoyed the alternating points of view as each character shared
their stories and their thoughts. I thought Pauw did an excellent job
pulling this off while keeping the voices true to the characters. The
characters are well developed and believable.
Girl in the Dark is fast-paced and compulsively readable. It kept
my rapt attention from beginning to end. I was a girl in the dark about
what had really happened until almost the end. I had an "Ah-ha!" moment
very close to the end and raced to finish the novel ASAP to see if I
was right. Hopefully we'll be reading more of Pauw's work in the future.
Wonderful stuck-over-night-at-the-airport book!
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of HarperCollins for review