The Dark by Sharon Bolton

It’s far, far, too long since I have read Sharon Bolton so that I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Dark and I’d like to thank Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to participate. You see, Sharon’s Little Black Lies was one of the first books I reviewed as a blogger. You can see that review (and how Linda’s Book Bag has changed) here. I also reviewed The Craftsman here. and I have a wonderful signed copy of The Pact waiting for me on my TBR.

The Dark was published by Orion on 26th May 2022 and is available for purchase through these links.

The Dark

When a baby is snatched from its pram and cast into the river Thames, off-duty police officer Lacey Flint is there to prevent disaster. But who would want to hurt a child?

DCI Mark Joesbury has been expecting this. Monitoring a complex network of dark web sites, Joesbury and his team have spotted a new terrorist threat from the extremist, women-hating, group known as ‘incels’ or ‘involuntary celibates.’ Joesbury’s team are trying to infiltrate the ring of power at its core, but the dark web is built for anonymity, and the incel army is vast.

Pressure builds when the team learn the snatched child was just the first in a series of violent attacks designed to terrorise women. Worse, the leaders of the movement seem to have singled out Lacey as the embodiment of everything they hate, placing her in terrible danger…

My Review of The Dark

Incels are on the rise.

Well. That was a thumpingly good read! Given how much I love her writing, why on earth haven’t I discovered Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series before? The Dark is the fifth in the series and I’m going to have to get them all now because I’m totally gripped. That’s not to say that The Dark doesn’t work as a stand alone read because it does. Brilliantly. It’s just I really want to experience all the others after this thrilling, compelling and affecting book.

The Dark opens in dramatic fashion and simply doesn’t let up. The short chapters add to the sense of pace, but it’s Sharon Bolton’s style that truly compels the reader forwards. I loved her variety of sentence structure and the almost sardonic style that comes through at times so that it feels as if The Dark is written directly for the individual reader’s enjoyment. What is so wonderful about this narrative is the beautiful, almost poetic, descriptive writing that acts as a perfect balance to the visceral, threatening plot, making The Dark utterly fantastic. Mention of real people on occasion also adds a layer of credibility.

The research that underpins The Dark gives it an authoritative – and consequently terrifying – level of authenticity and realism so that reading this book made me equally horrified by the potential for events to occur in real life and enraged by those who might wish to carry them out. Alongside a breath-taking pace, are disturbing themes of incel culture, misogyny, identity, threat, the Internet, relationships and social manipulation and hysteria that are only too convincing. I thought Sharon Bolton’s narrative was dangerously good.

I adored meeting Lacey Flint. She’s a magnificent creation whose past life I now need to read about in the other books because she feels so real and vivid. Lacey is rounded, three dimensional and totally compelling. There’s quite a cast of characters, but they all feel credible and real so that The Dark doesn’t feel like a story about fictional people, but rather those who could be walking past the reader in the street.

The Dark is so aptly titled too. There’s the dark web where much of the catalyst for action takes place. There’s the physical dark where danger lurks in the plot and there’s a metaphorical dark as the police search for answers and Mark Joesbury is kept ignorant of Lacey’s background. All of these elements are poised brilliantly, keeping the reader engaged throughout.

I so enjoyed The Dark. It had characters I cared about, a plot that astounded and thrilled, and a level of authenticity through intelligent and relevant themes that made it terrifyingly plausible. It’s an absolute cracker of a thriller and I loved it.

About Sharon Bolton

Sharon (formerly S J) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career in marketing and public relations. She gave it up in 2000 to become a mother and a writer. Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark Award (part of the prestigious Edgars) in the US. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston’s Prize for Best Thriller, the International Thriller Writers’ Best First Novel award, the Prix Du Polar in France and the Martin Beck award in Sweden.

You can follow Sharon on Twitter @AuthorSJBolton, and visit her website. You can also find Sharon on FacebookInstagram and Goodreads.

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