A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams
6/8/21; 304 pages
Crooked Lane Books
A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams is a recommended psychological horror novel.
Heather Evans returns home after a long absence to bury her mother
who inexplicably committed suicide. While going through her things, she
discovers a decades-long long correspondence her mother had with
convicted serial killer
Michael Reave, "the Red Wolf." He has been in prison for over 20 years,
but currently there is a copycat out there, murdering young women and
arranging their corpses in the same manner as Reave did to his victims.
Heather shares the letters with the police and ends up visiting Reave in
prison. It is also disturbing that her mother's suicide note is address
"To you both," yet Heather was an only child - or was she? Heather begins searching for the truth.
The pace of this bleak, ominous tale moves rather slowly after a
horrifying opening, delaying the obvious direction the plot will be
predictably taking. The pace does pick up closer to the end and the
novel becomes a scary, electrifying tale. As characters and information
introduce and presented in the first quarter of the novel, most readers
of suspense novel will, like me, immediately make some obvious
predictions. I have to admit that I didn't find Heather a very
compelling main character. The creepy alternate-chapter characters were
more interesting (and disturbing).
It is certainly a creepy, atmospheric novel that has some
spine-tingling moments and several truly horrifying scenes. However I
did predict the direction the novel would take early on, so, even though
there were gruesome scenes I didn't predict, the direction wasn't
surprising. The writing is good, and Williams layers on numerous clues
to increase the creepiness and dread. There are a couple of scenes I
could have done without, just saying. It really leans more toward a
horror novel than a suspense novel.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.