The International Writers Magazine: Review
What Lies in the Dark by CM Thompson
Sam Hawksmoor review
Hookline Books (Feb 10th 2015)
A stylish debut crime novel written with supreme confidence as the tension rises with each new horrific murder.
One murder can make a town nervous
Two brings fear. Add three, four, even more...
I have a stake in this crime novel. I read an earlier draft and was very impressed with the confidence and authority of the author’s voice. For a first novel it is a huge accomplishment and is immediately accessible. Written in a manner reminiscent of Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’ with a much darker perspective, it takes possession of the unnamed town and its characters with great detail – quickly getting under their skin. The prose is wonderfully poetic creating a vivid portrait of the townspeople and place.
‘The rumours have twirled into the air and they are everywhere, twisted into every conversation, every thought. Everyone has a theory on who the murderer might be.’
It begins with a body found with a number carved into a hand.
For the lead cops in the investigation Fletcher and the female DCI Bullrush (always nicknamed Bullface by the other cops) the first body is a quirk, although Bullrush senses it could be the start of something bigger. By the second and third bodies they know they have a serial killer in the town – who takes souvenirs, targets lone women and carves numbers into their hands. The worse thing is that the first number is 22. Does that mean there are 21 victims they haven’t yet found?
Each new discovery builds the evidence; each new number begins to panic the police and townsfolk alike. They have no clue as to motive, or who this could be committing the crimes. Written with pace and a growing sense of despair – the police seem ineffectual, the victims relatives have little or no confidence in the detectives finding the murderer and the bodies keep piling up. We experience the killer's perspective too - his growing needs and his warped rational. The ease with which he takes life and risks he takes to do it is quite casual. It is unsettling. There are the usual suspects as well – in every town people have their suspicions and C M Thompson makes the most of that – building mistrust and revealing several unsavoury characters to get our hopes up that the killer will be found before another girl is murdered. The development of Fletcher and Bullrush is subtle and unlike many TV cops, their inability to solve these murders leads to a real crisis of confidence – the author isn’t going to make it easy for them.
Written with style I always hoped that this crime novel would be picked up by a major publisher – but all I can say is buy What Lies in the Dark and make Hookline Books better known and spread the word. This book is available in paperback and kindle. It absolutely deserves to be read. (My only critical comment is on the rather abrupt ending but that too is rather unique so all is forgiven).
© Sam Hawksmoor Jan 2015
author of ‘Another Place To Die: The Endtime Chronicles’