In The Dark, by Loreth Anne White

>> Saturday, March 14, 2020

TITLE: In The Dark
AUTHOR: Loreth Anne White

PAGES: 407
PUBLISHER: Montlake Romance

SETTING: Contemporary Canada
TYPE: Suspense

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.
Lately there seems to have been a spate of homages to Agatha Christie's masterful And Then There Were None coming out in the book world -possibly because of the recent TV adaptation? In any case, I find them irresistible. Loreth Anne White's In The Dark is the latest I've found.

The structure of the book is quite interesting, but requires the reader to pay attention, as it moves between two different groups of characters, and back and forth in time. The earliest timeline concerns a group of strangers who have been invited for different purposes to a wilderness spa which is about to open. One has won a stay in a contest. Another owns a cleaning company and has been invited to bid to provide the spa's cleaning services. Another is the pilot of the tiny plane that flies them all to the very remote location. And so on; each thought the invitation came for a pretty normal reason.

But pretty much as soon as they arrive they realise the supposed spa is not a spa at all, and it doesn't take long before they are stuck there without a way to leave again or call for help. And it soon becomes clear that all they have some relation to a tragic event in the past, and that someone with a fondness for Agatha Christie's book has brought them there. There are even an ominous nursery rhyme and figurines that get destroyed as guests are killed... which soon starts happening.

We switch between these people and Mason Deniaud and Callie Sutton. Mason is a cop, and he's working with Callie, a search and rescue specialist. The wreck of a small plane has been found with a corpse inside, and not one who died in a plane crash. Callie soon figures out where the group is stuck, and she heads over to help with her rescue group and Mason.

And in yet another timeline, we see that Callie and Mason did find a survivor. We don't know who it is, and they seem to have something to hide.

This was loads of fun and I really enjoyed it most of the way, although I found it fell a bit short in the end.

The suspense element was particularly good most of the way through. What's going on is not really a mystery to the reader, but the fun is in seeing how it all comes out, and the increasing tension amongst those stuck in the isolated cabin. White succeeds in making it believable that the characters would immediately figure out the "And Then There Were None" connection, and yet behave in ways that gave the killer the chance to pick them off one by one. The interactions between them are super interesting, and very effective in making the atmosphere more and more tense. The one thing that was not as effective for me was the final revelation, which I didn't completely, 100% believe.

I liked the structure and the going back and forth, even though at times I had to stop and remind myself where we were in the timeline. I felt it was very effective in ratcheting up the tension. I did want to find out more about Callie and Mason, and White left me wanting more on that end. But that's not necessarily a bad thing (as long as White is intending to bring them back in another book!)

Which means I should warn possible readers that although the book is published by Montlake Romance, it's not really a romance. Best to know this before going in!



meljean brook 27 March 2020 at 14:49  

I've read two others by by Loreth Anne White and enjoyed them, but they didn't have that really sparky can't-put-down feel, but this sounds more like it heads that way with the tension.

I hope all is good with you and yours in this really insane time!

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