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DARKSIDE by Belinda Bauer

DARKSIDE

By Belinda Bauer

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1275-2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Caregiving can be life-threatening.

Bedridden in her 200-year-old cottage, Mrs. Priddy is helpless to avoid the strangler approaching. Mrs. March, slipping into dementia, is equally helpless to avoid the killer intent on drowning her in the icy waterside. But two murders in eight days aren’t enough to command the full attention of plodding PC Jonas Holly, in charge of protecting the rural Exmoor village of Shipcott. His wife Lucy is in the throes of rapidly advancing MS, barely able to manage the stairs and taking half a day to prepare the tea, never mind drink it. DCI John Marvel, called in from Taunton, begins by humiliating Jonas and assigning him guard duty at the Marsh house, as if he expects the killer to return. Worse still, Jonas begins receiving personal messages from the killer—from “If you won’t do your job, then I’ll do it for you” to “Do your job, crybaby”—that he’s unwilling to share with either Marvel or Lucy. He finds a button that may be a clue. Then four more murders follow. Three aged, ailing residents of the Sunset Lodge are dispatched, as is missing nurse Gary Liss, whom Jonas soon finds swaddled in curtains behind the lodge’s sunroom piano. Although she’s barely able to hold a knife, Jonas insists that Lucy carry one for her protection, leading ultimately to her demise and the plot twist that sets the killer free.

Genteel and suspenseful until Bauer (Blacklands, 2010) overplays her hand and makes explicit what might better have remained implicit. Still, better written than most and a minor glitch in a most promising career.