Strange goings-on surround a Minneapolis reporter researching a piece on a motivational speaker with a cultlike following in this supernatural novel.
Marley McCormick’s latest article for Mississippi Magazine finds her at a weekend seminar held by Delroy P. Dark. Known by his fans as The Dark, the motivational speaker advocates directly facing your fears as a therapeutic means. While Marley may not fully comprehend The Dark’s followers, who drape themselves in black as a “uniform” of sorts, it’s the two mysterious deaths tied to the seminar that truly disturb her. She’s accordingly wary of The Dark, who somehow knows of the bookstore she just inherited from her adopted parent, Uncle Max, who recently died in an explosion. Later, someone, apparently hunting for a particular volume, ransacks the bookstore. But Marley’s life becomes even more bizarre. Two strangers—a man colorfully dressed in circuslike garb and an old lady in the woods—separately inform Marley she’s in danger. Moreover, she’s vividly dreaming of an unfamiliar world and seeing things she simply can’t explain, like, apparently, another version of herself. And whoever is searching for the book soon physically threatens Marley. Murray’s (co-author: Outrage in Orlando, 2000, etc.) story thrives at retaining its mystery: “What’s going on?” seems to be a refrain. Consequently, numerous peculiar events, like the sudden appearance of a black cat at Marley’s house, occur without immediate explanations. These curious turns do, however, unfold at a frenetic pace, making the novel an enjoyable, quick read. Furthermore, characters are indelible, particularly Marley’s best friend, Alison Arneson, a technically savvy paraplegic who runs a shelter for homeless children. Regardless, the author leaves a good deal unresolved, including significant details on what the villains want (it’s more than just the book). But that’s indicative of a potential sequel, and readers will surely welcome more time with the venturesome reporter as well as a few answers to their questions.
A delightful, sometimes-outlandish mystery that’s primed for a series.