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The Darkness / Jason Pinter

Mira / December 2009
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

As a writer, I’d like to know more about Jason Pinter’s process in crafting his latest novels, The Fury and The Darkness. In The Fury, Henry Parker, a reporter for the New York Gazette, learns a dark family secret after a strung out junkie turns up dead. The dead man – Stephen Gaines – turns out to be his half-brother, the byproduct of his father’s extra marital affair. Henry learns of this connection when his father becomes the prime suspect in Stephen’s murder.

As Henry works to clear his father’s name, he finds out Stephen wasn’t your average junkie. He was drug dealer, too. And when other drug related murders start popping up around the city, Henry is reminded of series of murders that occurred in the 1980s, potentially linked to a ruthless drug kingpin known as “The Fury,” whose existence may be no more than an urban legend depending on who you believe.

In The Darkness, Henry can’t let Stephen’s murder remain unsolved. As he digs deeper in pursuit of the truth, it becomes obvious that there is more to the story than a drug deal gone bad. If it were that simple, why does every path taken, every lead explored, lead to another dead body? And why is his archrival, Paulina Cole, a reporter for the New York Dispatch, scared enough to come to him for help?

When Cole scoops Parker, writing a story about a highly addictive new street drug called “The Darkness,” all the puzzle pieces start falling into place. “The Fury” exists. Will Henry be able to figure out who “The Fury” is and shut down distribution of “The Darkness”? Or will Stephen’s final words “the city’s going to burn” haunt Henry forever?

Now, back to Pinter’s process and craft. In the Author’s Note at the end of The Darkness, Pinter discusses how he came to be familiar with several of the subjects (the growth of the U.S. drug trade in the 1980s, the links between the drug trade and the Iran-Contra crisis, etc.) and points readers to some sources should they want to learn more. I wish he had discussed how he translated his interest in those subjects into an idea for not just one novel, but two.

As I read The Fury, I found myself becoming frustrated with the amount of backstory that Pinter dropped in. I did not like the character of James Parker, Henry’s father, and struggled with believing that Henry would actually feel compelled to help his father clear his name. The secondary plot line about the secret life of Stephen Gaines and the larger conspiracy lurking in the shadows was far more interesting to me.

When I read The Darkness, I found myself engrossed in the mystery surrounding Stephen’s murder. Pinter did a much better job of establishing emotional connections between the characters. When Paulina Cole approaches Parker for help, I really believed that her only choice was to seek the help of someone she considers to be the enemy. The plot of The Darkness is more complex. There is more action and suspense. And while I’m usually a fan of giving the protagonist a love interest, I was happy to see Pinter put Henry’s relationship with Amanda on the back burner this time around.

However, I still find myself wondering whether The Fury and The Darkness were meant to be two separate novels. They are tied together in a way that could indicate once being a larger work that was broken into two pieces. In some ways, The Fury seems like a novel length prologue. The two novels work beautifully together. But if I could only read one, I’d pick The Darkness. It’s a stronger, more compelling story containing everything readers want in a thriller – action, suspense, great characters, a bit of mystery weaved through to the very end, and of course, a payoff that is worth it in the end.

Purchase The Darkness by Jason Pinter.

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:10AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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