I've long been a fan of Lisa Unger. When I read and reviewed Fragile last year, I said it was my favourite of her books so far. I was thrilled to find out that her latest book - Darkness, My Old Friend - reprises the town and characters from Fragile.
Jones Cooper, a former detective in the town of The Hollows, has retired and in now keeping himself busy by pet watching for vacationing homeowners, small home repairs and the like - a far cry from his former occupation.
He is visited one day by Eloise - the psychic from Fragile. She has come to tell him she has seen a vision of Jones - diving in the river after someone and that it would be too much for him. Eloise works with local PI Ray Muldane as well. Muldane has been hired by Michael Holt. Michael was born in The Hollows and has recently moved back after the death of his father. His mother had disappeared when he was young. Bethany Graves and her daughter Willow have just moved to The Hollows to help Willow start fresh. One of Willow's first encounters in The Hollows? Michael - in the woods - digging...
" She thought him the dutiful son, sitting at his father's deathbed. But he wasn't that. He was a grave robber, waiting for the night watchman to drift off once and for all. Then, and only then, could he dig his fingers into the earth and exhume the truth."
At the end of Fragile, I thought there were more stories to be told with these characters and I was right. Jones Cooper is a great protagonist, conflicted with his past and what his role should be now. His wife Maggie, a psychologist in town, still has not won me over, but her clinical take on events and emotions provide a needed element. Eloise is explored more fully in this book, letting us know her back story. I appreciated this 'fleshing out' as she is the character I enjoy the most, besides Jones. There are many other players, all with their own stories.
There is a secondary plot line that eventually intersected with the primary case Jones is working on. I was able to foresee what was coming and the outcome of the mystery fairly easily. But, the real strength of Unger's writing seems to be the exploration of relationships, problems and emotions of her characters. Unger skillfully weaves together all the threads she's created into one compelling read.
"If you're looking, you can find trouble anywhere. It's waiting - not just on city street corners, in subways, in nightclubs, but on quiet country roads, in a peaceful stand of trees."
Those looking for a hardcore murder mystery won't find it here. But if you enjoy a good story, this one's for you. Read an excerpt of Darkness, My Old Friend. You can find Lisa Unger on Twitter and on Facebook.