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The Dark Corners of the Night: An UNSUB Novel


The Dark Corners of the Night: An UNSUB Novel

Meg Gardiner, who was recently elected President of the Mystery Writers of America, brings us the third entry in her UNSUB series. Similar to Thomas Harris in RED DRAGON, Gardiner expertly deals with a serial killer and the FBI analysis that leads to this individual’s eventual capture. In RED DRAGON, though, you clearly know who the culprit is and get to spend time in his head throughout the book. With THE DARK CORNERS OF THE NIGHT, you are never privy to the mind of the killer and instead get to ride along with FBI behavioral analyst Caitlin Hendrix and her team as they put together clues to identify and take down their predator of the moment.

The novel begins with a news bulletin referencing a series of bombings throughout the country. As Caitlin arrives at the scene of one in Los Angeles, she wonders if this could be the work of their old nemesis, the Ghost. Shortly after this event, Caitlin and her team are instantly put on the trail of another baddie who is calling himself the Midnight Man. Part of his modus operandi is breaking into family homes, killing the parents in horrific fashion, and leaving the children alive as witnesses. He also paints a wall in the blood of his victims, which depicts an eye staring directly at you. What message is he sending?

"The scenes between Caitlin and Hannah are the best in the book, which is saying a lot as the story never slows down for a second."

One of the specialists the team brings in to consult is forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, who is used to dealing with all types of personalities --- from the normal to the violently psychopathic. Jo notices at one of the Midnight Man's crime scenes that he gets terrified when confronted and actually urinates himself; it is situations like this that causes him to escalate the violence. One of the best witnesses they get is a preteen named Hannah. The Midnight Man targeted Hannah's house, but things went awry for him and he was chased away by the family dog. The good thing is that Hannah has uncanny skills when it comes to remembering even the smallest detail.

It is Hannah's description of the Jeep driven by the Midnight Man that gets the team interested. Even more so, she is able to identify a sticker on the front of the car that looks like a few letters and an animal mascot. It's not long before Caitlin and company realize the that sticker is for a local high school, leading them to speculate that the killer could either work there or be a student there.

The scenes between Caitlin and Hannah are the best in the book, which is saying a lot as the story never slows down for a second. THE DARK CORNERS OF THE NIGHT shows off Gardiner's impressive knowledge of behavioral analysis and all the technology, ballistics and forensics that go into a modern-day pursuit of the baddest of the bad guys who are out there. It is a lesson in investigatory work and a master class in how to write a nail-biter of a suspense novel.

I look forward to the next UNSUB installment and only hope that the forthcoming Amazon TV series can live up to the standards that Gardiner has set in these outstanding novels.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 21, 2020

The Dark Corners of the Night: An UNSUB Novel
by Meg Gardiner