Cody Mcfadyen: The Darker Side

by Rachel Baker on October 30, 2008

Today’s guest reviewer is Rashmi Srinivas. Rashmi is the owner of A Book Blogger’s Diary. Her entry was a review of Cody Mcfadyen’s The Darker Side.  I really enjoyed the depth of her review.  Without further ado, I give you Rashmi’s review of The Darker Side

I’ll begin by saying this is the first Cody Mcfadyen book I’ve read. Those who’ve read him before can well imagine what emotional upheaval I underwent I read this shocking story. I’ve been reading mystery, thriller and suspense stories for quite a few years now and used to considere myself pretty much jaded with the whole scary aspect of it. Having read this book, I find that I can’t say that anymore. This is by far one of the most scary books I’ve read in a long, long time. That said, this book is not for the faint of hearts.

This is not just the story of some sicko serial killer. Pardon the awful pun, but that’s been done to death in countless books. It’s more the in-depth psychological aspect of it in tandem with a slick plot development and deeply flawed characters, that’s the most terrifying aspect of this novel.

Central character and FBI agent, Smoky Barrett is scarred on the outside as well as inside. Her leadership skills are evident as is the way she’s coping with her fractured life. Reading about her violent past and her present-day internal struggles made me feel like I was physically there, intruding upon something very private, very personal. In fact it got to a stage that, having read the dreadful things that had happened to this woman (and there’s a lot there), I began to dread what awful thing would happen to her next in the pages of this novel. And it left me feeling just about wrung out emotionally.

The part of the book that I felt was the scariest and yet the most true was the central question raised by the villain – what secret are you hiding? Each of us has secrets – those we’re willing to share and those that we take to the grave. It’s that second part that’s the most scary. The things that people are capable of carrying within themselves. And yet, we all have it. Asking this question of ourselves, and then seeing how the characters on the page react to it, gives it a surreal feeling.

But there are some things that just didn’t gel with me. Seeing as how this is the first Smoky Barret story read (this is the third book in a series, btw), I wasn’t exactly enamored of the “clicks”, the jumps of intuition that seem to have become a personality trait of this character and that are somehow always accurate. I’ve always felt that to be a very “gimmicky” sort of thing to do and I generally don’t like it, particularly when there’s a mystery to be solved.

The novel wasn’t as much a mystery as a case of “catch me if/when you can”. The villain’s always one step ahead and leaves clues to help Smoky and her team. As much as I see it, they only follow where the villain leads. That didn’t leave a lot of detecting to do. Don’t get me wrong – what they did was competent enough. Just not enough to satisfy my gumshoe urges.

Mcfadyen’s writing is super-slick, and his characterizations are just too good. I just wish the detecting part of it had been equally good. Still, this is a novel that shook me up and that’s saying something. In fact, I’m still conflicted about reading past and future books in this series.

You can find this and many more of Rashmi’s reviews at A Book Blogger’s Diary

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