Desert Isle Keeper
In the Dark
A secluded mountain lodge. The perfect getaway. So remote no one will ever find you.
The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.
Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.
Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.
AAR’s Caz Owens and our very own “Thriller Queen”, Shannon Dyer, read Loreth Anne White’s latest suspense novel and are here to share their thoughts about it.
Caz: Loreth Anne White is one of my favourite authors of romantic suspense so I’m always ready to jump into a new book by her. In the Dark is perhaps a little different to her other books; it’s more of an ensemble piece and more suspense than romantic suspense. There IS a romantic angle, but it’s very low key, although the UST thrumming between the two leads is very present and nicely done. I found it to be a completely compelling read that grabbed me and pulled me into the story right away; as is clear from the synopsis, it’s a kind of riff on or homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but Ms. White takes that original template and works with it to produce something both familiar and different at the same time.
Shannon, what are your initial thoughts? You read many, many more mysteries and suspense novels than I do, so did this one work as well for you as it did for me?
Shannon: There’s something really special about White’s writing, something that draws me into her stories and refuses to let me go. That’s exactly what happened to me with this one. Once I started, I hated to put the book down. It was so atmospheric and creepy, with this sense of impending doom around every corner.
We see things from a variety of perspectives, and I initially worried I’d have trouble keeping everyone straight. Fortunately, each character felt quite distinct, so I was able to keep track of who everyone was without any difficulty. Was your experience similar, or did the multitude of PoVs get in your way?
Caz: Oh, absolutely not! I think my experience in that respect was pretty much identical to yours. Each of the characters was so well defined and individual, and their motivations and inner thoughts so true to the personalities the author created that there was never any danger of confusion. I gobbled this book up as fast as I could! I also loved the format – how we’re getting two stories starting from different points in time (after the prologue) that gradually converge. [The story is told in the present, in sections labelled “The Search” and in the recent past, “The Lodge Party”; The Search sections feature homicide detective Mason Deniaud, a recent transplant to the RCMP, and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton, as they piece together the story of what happened to a group of eight individuals who have gone missing; and “The Lodge Party” sections relates those events as they happen.] Often, when I’m reading a novel that has two different storylines on the go, I can feel frustrated when the author moves from one to the other – especially when one is less interesting (IMO) than the other – but I never experienced that here.
Shannon: I completely agree. I never found myself wishing the author would stay with only one of the storylines. Of course, there was the occasional cliffhanger moment, where something seemingly catastrophic would occur and then the story would switch back to the other set of characters. This can sometimes feel like a cheap gimmick, a way of making sure readers keep reading rather than stopping at the end of the section, but the way it was handled here didn’t feel that way.
You mentioned previously that this novel didn’t feel as romantic to you as some of the author’s other works. My understanding is that this is the first in what is meant to be a duology, so I’m thinking we’ll eventually see more of Mason and Callie. For now though, I was satisfied with where the author chose to leave things. Both are dealing with some intense emotional issues, and I’m not sure I would have bought into a romance between them right now. How do you feel about the relationship between these two?
Caz: I’m glad you mentioned it because I really loved the frisson of attraction between Mason and Callie which permeates pretty much all of their interactions. They’ve got a lot of baggage; both of them have suffered tragic loss in different ways and are barely keeping it together a lot of the time, yet they draw strength from each other in a way that is beautifully and subtly done. I honestly didn’t miss the kissing or sex scenes; they’d have been out of place here anyway, but when an emotional connection is as well done as it is here, it was more than enough. And if this IS the first of two, then I’m really excited for the second book!
What did you think of the way the “Lodge Party” sections of the story unfolded? Did you guess who was behind everything long before it was revealed?
Shannon: You know, with so many secrets being kept by so many people, I had a hard time guessing who was behind all the bad things that were happening at the lodge. I saw several motivations, any of which could have served as reason to seek revenge on those people. When the truth was revealed though, it felt right. I wasn’t left with any nagging questions or loose ends.
Caz: Same here. The way the author pulled all the different threads together was pure brilliance. I really liked the nods to the Christie novel, and the fact that the characters understood the reference; I thought it really heightened the tension when they all begin to wonder why they’ve been brought together and who – if anyone – they can trust.
I think it’s pretty clear we both liked this one a lot! I don’t give many straight As but In the Dark is getting one. It works perfectly on so many levels; it’s a superbly constructed ‘locked room’ mystery, a tense and exciting detective story, and a wonderful homage – and Loreth Anne White has really pulled out all the stops as she shifts between timelines and narrators to keep the story moving and the suspense high.
Shannon: I agree with you 100%! In the Dark gets an A from me as well, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the second installment in the story.