Paris Gibson is a late-night radio announcer in Austin, Texas, mixing a friendly and sympathetic ear with listener requests for music. Gibson receives her share of oddball calls, most of which she is able to professionally deflect without difficulty. She receives a telephone call one night however that rocks her world. The caller, who identifies himself only as "Valentino," blames Gibson for being jilted by his girlfriend and intends to exact a double-bladed revenge. Valentino announces that he plans to kill his ex-girlfriend in 72 hours and then come after Gibson.
Gibson immediately contacts the Austin police department, where she receives an unwelcome, though not exactly unpleasant, surprise. She finds that Dean Malloy, a crime psychologist, has joined the Austin Police Department and is assigned to the case. Gibson and Malloy have a prior history together, one that neither of them is particularly proud of. As they race against the clock to determine Valentino's identity, they slowly discover that Valentino is aware of their past and is using that knowledge to terrorize Gibson and impede Malloy's investigation. And there is another element adding urgency to the efforts to find Valentino. The teenaged daughter of a local judge is missing --- and her disappearance seems to be tied to Valentino.
HELLO, DARKNESS does not lack for sleazeballs. There are bad guys with varying degrees of villainy, from professionals to law enforcement to unskilled laborers. As a result, there are all sorts of possibilities as to who Valentino might be. Brown quite skillfully drops clues and red herrings with equal aplomb, to the point where the reader might well suspect Valentino of being anybody and everybody.
In HELLO, DARKNESS --- Brown's seventeenth novel --- she continues her style of mixing murder and mayhem with a dollop of sex and romance to create a story, and characters that will attract a wide and varied audience. It should be noted that while Brown is a prolific author, she has managed to maintain that ever-elusive, always-difficult element called quality. And HELLO, DARKNESS continues that tradition.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 20, 2004