Review: Deep into the Dark (P. J. Tracy)

Deep into the Dark primarily features Sam Easton, a wounded vet with PTSD, in a story about a serial killer. No, he isn’t a cop. Nor a newspaper reporter. He’s just a guy trying to cope with half a burned face and survivor’s guilt, as the only man left from his small unit. He works as a barback at Pearl Club. Melody Traeger? Not a cop – the bartender at Pearl Club.

Margaret Nolan and Al Crawford, however, are cops – LAPD homicide detectives. They’re the ones investigating a serial killer. They are called out to the scene of a murder involving a dancer at Pearl Club. And this is how everything starts coming together.

The dead woman was convinced someone was following her. Traeger has been seeing a black Jeep now and again – as has her stoner friend at the apartment where they both live. Easton has seen it. The cops aren’t so sure.

As it turns out, Easton’s marriage with Yuki is on the rocks. Traeger has been kind of seeing a guy with a volatile temper. When both turn up dead, Easton and Traeger have an issue: how to convince the cops that a guy who has PTSD-related blockouts, and an abused woman who used to be an addict are not cold blooded killers.

There’s a subplot involving the son of a famous filmmaker that really isn’t a subplot. It’s more of a parallel, and it’s important to keep tabs on it.

While Crawford is ready to lock up Easton and Traeger, and throw away the key, evidence found at yet another crime scene seem to show that one of Easton’s dead buddies may not be quite so dead after all.

To get into more detail would really be quite spoilery, but I’ll say this: the killer came as no surprise to me.

The book is well paced, and with the possible exception of Crawford, I found the characters to be well-rounded human beings, versus people stuffed into a story because the narrative demanded it. I like the investigation, and Nolan’s bit of confliction about Easton because her brother Max was killed in action.

Three out of five stars.

Thanks to Minotaur/St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the review copy.


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