Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: A Cold Dark Place by Gregg Olsen

A Cold Dark Place
By Gregg Olsen

Book #1 in the Emily Kenyon series

The Seeds Of Evil... In a secluded farm house in the Pacific Northwest, a family has been slaughtered--and a teenage son has disappeared. Single mother and cop, Emily Kenyon spearheads a dark hunt for a killer. But Emily's teenage daughter Jenna is one step ahead of her... Are Planted In... Jenna knows the boy suspected of murdering his family and wants to help him--perhaps too much. Then within days of the first murder, another family is butchered, this time in Iowa. And on the heels of this brutal slaying, another follows in Salt Lake City. Eerie similarities link the crime scenes. But an even darker connection threatens to claim even more victims... A Cold Dark Place As Emily fits the puzzle pieces together, she realizes the danger surrounding her daughter is worse than she'd imagined. Now in a desperate race to save Jenna, Emily must match wits with the most cunning, diabolical killer she's faced yet in her career--a killer who's just placed her and her daughter at the top of his list...

The author, Gregg Olsen, is renowned for his true crime novels and I cannot wait to get to them; I don’t question his writing skills in that genre. However, his hand at this work of fiction fell really short for me.

The major problem with this book is with the characterizations and it starts with the main character, Emily Kenyon. She doesn’t seem to have strong relationships with anyone (ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, boss, co-worker) but the underlying reasons of how they got that way were never really addressed and of course they pivot without explanation later in the story. Getting who Emily is was critical to believing and understanding the course of the investigation. When you can’t get a grip on the main character (who does something completely foul in the middle of story), it’s really difficult to relate to her and invest in the rest of the story.

Normally, serial killers are the most well defined characters in a mystery/suspense story. The one here seemed to be pretty clear until we get to the end of the story and nobody is behaving to type. I still don’t understand what happened and why.

This was a convoluted plot with poorly developed characters that in the end didn't make a whole lot of sense. It was hard to predict character's behaviors as I never felt I got to know them, really. The device where the story goes back and forth in time was okay but when we were reading the thoughts of undefined and unidentified characters who never showed up again, it was hard to figure out what was important. If Olsen had spent more time developing the main characters and the serial killer, the story would have worked better. As it was, this was just a mess for me.

I will definitely read the two true crime novels I’ve purchased but I can’t continue this series, even though I bought the next (and last) book. I peeked and found out what I needed to know.


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