Review: Darkness on the Edge of Town by J.Carson Black

This past week, I finished reading Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.

Just The Facts, Ma'am

Price: $3.97
File Size: 511 KB * Print Length: 368 pages * Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Breakaway Media (June 14, 2010) * Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled * X-Ray: Enabled * Lending: Enabled

Blurb It

"Laura Cardinal, a detective with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, troubleshoots homicide investigations in small towns where resources are scarce. When Laura investigates the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl found in a town’s park bandshell, she knows immediately what she’s up against: a cunning sexual predator. But why is she plagued by the abduction of a schoolmate eighteen years earlier?

In a runaway case that propels Laura from a lavish Tucson estate to the secretive heart of a north Florida town, she must confront the ghosts of her own past. Then another child goes missing--and Laura must race the clock to find her."

My Take

Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black is the first book in the Laura Cardinal series, and it's a great introduction to a compelling, multilayered character. The mystery is well-plotted, and the characters are intriguing. I recommend this as a good read for any mystery lovers out there.

Many dub this book a thriller, but I don't agree with that. It's got the puzzle of a really good mystery more so than the creeping anxiety of a thriller.


I really have only 3 quibbles with the book, and I wouldn't let any of these deter you from reading the book. It's worth the price of admission even with my minor quibbles.

First, the book begins with a paranormal event which, it would seem, is to be taken at face value. That it really is a true event and not the result of the heroine's imagination. If that is the case, then that element needs to be fleshed out a bit more. That hook embedded in the third paragraph of the opening is what made me think this was a mystery beyond the ordinary.

Second, coincidence plays a rather large part in the story from several threads of the active plot line and to the backstory too. This is always tricky to pull off and make believable in any book. Most non-writer readers probably won't have a problem with this.

Third, the ending comes out of left field. In a way, that's good because authors want to surprise readers. However, in a puzzle-mystery, readers are always trying to figure out the answers. I cut my teeth, so to speak, on every mystery in my parish library when I was a kid -- Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, John D. Macdonald, Rex Stout, and all the other greats.

By the end of a book that is any kind of mystery or puzzle, readers want to say, "Wow. That's shocking, BUT I totally see how it's true." Again, non-writer readers may not have a problem with the ending.

I guess you'll just have to read the book for yourself to see how you feel about it. I do know that I'll get the next Laura Cardinal book by J. Carson Black. He hit paydirt with his heroine in Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Takeaway Truth

Try a new author today -- J. Carson Black is a good choice.

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