THE DARK ROOM by Julia Cameron

THE DARK ROOM

KIRKUS REVIEW

From the first page of her first mystery, Cameron (the nonfiction The Artist’s Way, 1995, etc.) wastes no time establishing who’s in charge, and how he feels about it: Chicago police detective Elliot Mayo is frankly revolted by the murder of photographer/cokehead/playboy Jack Nesbitt, especially after somebody sends some closeup photographs of a 12-year-old’s breasts to the department with an injunction to ask their owner about Jack’s death. The former 12-year-old is Dr. Violet Winters, head of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, and the story she tells is only the beginning of a series of sordid revelations about Jack—just as Jack’s death is only the beginning of a rising tide of violence that will engulf a mobbed-up restauranteur, Jack’s shady dealer, a respected judge, the cop bedded down with Elliot’s ex, and Elliot’s own nine-year-old son Zach. The secrets, involving satanism, pederasty, and child pornography, are nasty enough for the most hardened fan (maybe a little too nasty for the second most-hardened), and Jack talks a tough, sensitive game. But Cameron wants so much to insist on the importance of what she’s saying—Jack talks so much about what cops feel and how cops act that he comes across as Everycop rather than his own character, and the darkest secrets are portended from the very beginning—that she leaves no new depths in reserve for this darkly inflated thriller to explore. Even so, Cameron’s produced a monstrously ambitious mystery debut. Don’t hope for a sequel; Elliot’s probably glad to escape this installment alive. (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7867-0564-7
Page count: 448pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998




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