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review 2017-06-09 08:58
The Inside Dark
The Inside Dark - James Hankins

By:  James Hankins

ISBN: 978-1477819906

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date:  7/11/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars


Acclaimed author, James Hankins returns following The Prettiest One (2016) with his latest edgy psychological crime thriller, with gruesome evil secrets of the past —THE INSIDE DARK.

Top 20 Summer Books Coming July.

Psychologically rich, taut, fast-paced suspense, with twists around every corner, Hawkins will keep you guessing until the final conclusion.

What drives a person to kill?

Set in the Boston area, Jason Swike, is a crime, mystery, suspense novelist – married to Sophie with a six-year-old son, Max (Down syndrome and blood disease). There was a car accident leaving her in a wheelchair, and the couple (separated/estranged for two years).

As the novel opens Jason has been chained to the wall of an old horse corral in a deserted ramshackle stable. He was given no food, and only water, mixed with drugs.

When would death arrive?

Death enjoys what it does. Death likes to whistle while it works.

“Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.”

Death has a name.

Headlines. The most feared in Massachusetts. The media had dubbed Death’s latest human incarnation, Crackerjack—because serial killers with catchy monikers grab more viewers and sell more papers than ordinary killers do.

Crackerjack broke bones—cracked, snapped, twisted, or crushed. Then the final death blow. Death has a humor . . .

Three strikes you’re out. Crackerjack had clearly taken his media-given nickname to heart.

Death had an odd sense of whimsy.

In addition to broken bones, all his victims had been found with their faces adorned with skillfully rendered designs, like those you pay for at an amusement park or carnival. From superheroes, fairies, wild animals, and cartoon characters.

Soon death would come whistling for him.

Jason learns he is not alone in the stable. There is another man being tortured. Ian Cobb. He hears the whistling and knew Death would come for the other man, Ian. Then he would be next. The last sound heard by his victims.

During the torture, he could hear the pleading for him to help. He had to help him. Soon the struggle stumbled into his stall. A life-and-death struggle with a serial killer, taking place literally on top of him.

With the help of Cobb, Jason takes down Crackerjack, (Wallace Barton) the sadistic serial killer who whistled as he tortured his victims. Cobb even had the similar face painted design.

Jason had killed him with the hammer (the final blow), but it was self-defense. He had struck him three times.

Soon there is much success for Jason. He is a hero. They were both lucky. Jason got away without a scratch; however, not Cobb. Why did CrackerJack keep Jason around longer?

Briggs is the homicide detective. Jason and Ian were the only ones which had escaped the serial killer. There were six bodies buried in the woods behind the serial killers stable bringing the total to sixteen. Briggs is suspicious of Jason’s story. Something does not add up.

Soon Jason enjoys the limelight and his book sales soar. In less than forty hours he had a six-figure offer in hand from a major publisher for a non-fiction book about Jason’s ordeal and his eventual escape. Then were two Hollywood producers. Life is good.

What if he stretched the truth, embellished a bit— just to get the job done. Would it be so wrong to lie a little? He had a wife in a wheelchair from a car accident (which he was to blame), and a son with expensive medical needs. Jason needed to lie a little during the TV interview. He needed book sales. His family had medical needs and he needed to win them back.

Cobb takes a backseat. Cobb takes care of his elderly father at home. He owns a plumbing business which his father had started and he had shared with his brother John until his death. Half of his income went to nursing care, doctor visits, medical supplies, and equipment.

What is Cobb hiding?

Ian gives up his part of the reward to Jason. However, Jason soon learns all this comes with strings. Both men had been taken from an empty parking lot and drugged. Both have family medical problems and a tragic past.

Then later his nightmare begins once again.

He hears the whistling again . . .

Did he kill the real killer? Was there a copycat? Is the real killer still out there?

More bodies surface.

Jason has some secrets of his own. He desperately needs the money, with his own son’s medical needs with a rare blood disease (aHUS) and the possibility of facing a future of dialysis and even kidney transplants. His care is costly.

Cobb also has a creepy disturbing past which shapes his life. Each is blaming someone else in their lives for their behavior. Both these men have some things in common (both suffered catastrophes) and Detective Lamar Briggs knows something is not right and will not stop until he gets answers.

Jason is worried about his own family. If the killer is still at large, he needs to hire his own hit man. How far will Swike go to sell books, and to resuscitate a drowning career as a crime writer? He cannot let the killer get to him and his family.

Two different car accidents trigger a dangerous chain of events. Jason is drawn into a twisted game while the psychopath killer is pulling all the strings.

Time to let The Inside Dark out . . .

From an abandoned horse stable to a motel. A nightmarish journey of madness, evil, to sadistic—a cleverly written twisty, tense, suspenseful creepy thriller!

This crackerjack suspense hits a home run!

An avid fan of talented Hawkins, from his first book to this latest, have enjoyed immensely his writing crossing many genres. Each book is unique— from mystery, suspense, crime, and psychological thrillers.

For fans of Jennifer Hillier, Lisa Unger, and Paul Cleave (other favorites). The author knows creepy, torture, revenge, and twisted minds. THE INSIDE DARK is a "must read" terrifying cat-and-mouse game. Wickedly evil for your summer reading pleasure.

If you have not read James Hankins, what are you waiting for?

Read my reviews:
The Prettiest One
Shady Cross ( Top 50 Books of 2015 )
Brothers and Bones
Jack of Spades

A special thank you to Thomas and Mercer and NetGalley for an early reading copy.



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/02/The-Inside-Dark
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review 2015-12-27 09:41
The Dark Inside - Rod Reynolds

Seguí la recomendación del blog de Liz "la fea" (pobrecica, pero es que es fea de a poqueta nit a casa). Y mira que normalmente solemos coincidir (en los gustos literarios, en aspecto físico no porque yo soy guapo). Pues esta vez, no. El argumento es interesante: un periodista atormentado en su mismidad, y que se lleva a matar con todo el mundo, es enviado a un pueblecico en la frontera entre Texas y Arkansas para investigar unos asesinatos. Parece que allí está implicado todo el mundo. Y hasta ahí puedo leer (mejor dicho, hasta ahí he leído).

Difícil de seguirle el hilo. Demasiados personajes poco definidos y con los que no queda claro qué papel juegan. Hasta el 36%, y ya es mucho.


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review 2015-10-06 12:26
The Dark Inside
The Dark Inside - Rod Reynolds

A series of sweetheart murders take place in a small town named Texarkana in 1946. Charlie Yates is a New York reporter who is out of favour with his boss. He is told to get out of New York and get the story.
His marriage is over and it looks like his career is heading the same way so he does as he is told. Nobody in Texarkana wants him there, they just see him as a hack who is desperate for his story with no thought for the victims or their families. The police see him as trouble and are very convincingly intimidating in their attempts to drive him out of town.
The Dark Inside is one of the most accurate titles of books that I have read. It is a fantastic novel that is very dark at times. Sometimes a little too much so for me and for a short period I could only read a few chapters at a time. Charlie is hard to warm to initially, he isn't blameless in the collapse of his marriage or for the fallout with his employers. Many of his problems are due to him being unable to participate in WW2, the reasons why are revealed during the novel.
However part way through, after a quite harrowing time for him my opinions changed and I was willing him to succeed. From that moment Charlie wanted to get answers for Lizzie a woman he had feelings for but mainly for himself. To prove everybody wrong.

Before I started this novel I expected it to be similar to Raymond Chandler but I was mistaken. It's so much more bleak than that. I could see it being on the screen, it would need a strong cast to carry of such a great novel and would ideally be in black and white. That is my wish anyway.
Quite violent, very atmospheric and totally different to other books that have been published recently. An excellent debut novel by an author that will go far.
With thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy received by netgalley

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review 2015-08-26 09:29
The Dark Inside - Rod Reynolds

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley and this is my honest opinion of the book.


Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border. There have been a number of brutal killings. Young couple, courting in lovers lanes have been shot. New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story, his bosses desperate for him to get out of the way, Charlie well aware that this may be his only chance to keep his job. As he begins to investigate the story he becomes more involved. He finds himself almost compelled to help Lizzie Anderson, the sister of one the first victims. And as he meets more and more resistance from the people of Texarkana he becomes more determined to find the killer. He soon finds its more than just his job that's on the line, it's his life too that is also under threat.


This is the debut novel from Rod Reynolds and he hits the ground running. This is an assured novel, one that draws you in from the first page and keeps you there until the last page. Rod Reynolds has created an old school noir and the language and era it evokes is something to wallow in and enjoy.


The imagery is immediate. I could imagine Charlie narrating his tale, much like hero investigator in old film noirs such as Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. I could imagine driving down Texarkana High Street, see City Hall sitting in the middle of the road, straddling the two states. I could see the old automobiles parked outside diners, see GIs walking down the street and picture the fashions of the 40s. Even as I read the story I could hear the southern drawl of the characters.


The characters are well drawn. I liked Charlie, for all his faults, probably because he was well aware of these faults. He is a stubborn man but it is this stubbornness and refusal to back down that powers his investigation. There is a malignant presence in Texarkana that the author hints at in the characters of the power members of town hierarchy. I did get a little side-tracked by trying to remember which police department certain of the characters worked for but this didn't bring me to distraction and I soon got lost again in the flow of the story.


This book is called The Dark Inside and indeed it is. The story is dark, horrific murders that are terrorising a town. But there is also darkness from the town and its inhabitants. There is a malignant presence in Texarkana that the author hints at in the characters of the power members of town hierarchy. Charlie becomes more aware that the people who are supposed to be helping the town have their own dark secrets to hide. There is a palpable sense of dread created by the author. The reader is aware, slightly before Charlie that he is in danger and it is this that make this reader at least, route for Charlie even more.


What makes this story all the more fascinating is that it is loosely based on true events. There is a town called Texarkana and there were a spate of killings in 1947. Those murders however remain unsolved.


I don't normally comment on covers but here the cover image perfectly encapsulates the book. It is how I imagined the scenery surrounding Texarkana and hints at the danger the town holds.


I'm not going to say any more about the actual story for fear of giving anything away. If you like dark murder mysteries, novels set in mid century American towns, novels with a conspiracy at the heart of them or novels that draw you in and keep you there until the very end then this book is for you.


A gripping, dark, engrossing read and one which I found highly entertaining. I am impatiently waiting for more from Rod Reynolds.

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review 2015-08-20 08:52
The Dark Inside. *****Superb Book Alert Superb Debut Alert****
The Dark Inside - Rod Reynolds

I loved this book so much. So very very much. Will that do? No? Jeez but you lot are demanding…

The Dark Inside is old school noir – Southern Noir at that – and I have not read a book like it in many years, and when I have they have come from old school crime writers who are almost a dying breed (think James Lee Burke or Flannery O Connor) – but like Rod Reynolds here they have this magic touch when it comes to taking very little time to put you BAM heart and soul into another era.

Here we enter the Texas/Arkansas border in 1946 – alongside Charlie Yates, who having had somewhat of a meltdown in New York has been sent along to cover a series of murders in a small town – to the folks back in the big city very unimportant stuff. But to Charlie it’s about to become everything…

Language is a beautiful thing when in the right hands – it has the power to evoke all the senses, to paint a picture, to bring on a memory, to make you catch your breath and feel an emotion – The Dark Inside has this in spades. Chocka block full of that sort of thing this book is, all the while telling a compelling and really powerful story that will envelop you in the pure texture and realism of that time now passed.

The author sends his main protagonist on a real journey of self discovery, sets him on a perilous path and takes us with him every step of the way – down into the seething whirlpool of fear that this small town has become in the wake of the deaths. The sheer atmosphere and sense of something horrific lurking just below the surface is palpable throughout the telling and as Charlie faces his demons and everyone else’s head on you will be utterly gripped and totally unable to look away. I was really quite tearful by the end simply down to the sheer impact of every single chapter.

This is a debut – something that stops me in my tracks every time I remember it – the writing is both visceral and gentle, a really quite staggering achievement both in character study and incorporation of setting – If Rod Reynolds spends the rest of his writing career (and boy is this guy going to have a career) creating books only half as good as this one, he will still be writing some of the top fiction out there. A truly incredible talent.

I don’t really need to add “Highly Recommended” do I? Not really. You can take that one as read. When I had finished The Dark Inside, devoured it over the course of one gloriously reading mad day, I had that spider sense that told me I’d just made a lifetime commitment. If this author keeps writing I’m going to keep reading. A bit like with Stephen King if he publishes his shopping list I’m probably going to get in the queue to take a look.

I guess you could say I’m a fan. How many people will agree with me remains to be seen. But early buzz from people I respect in the field tells me I’m not going to be alone here – and as one reader to another I’m saying go take a look. Sometimes it really is that simple.

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