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Monday, 13 April 2015

‘Fear the Darkness’ by Becky Masterman

Published by Orion,
5 February 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-4373-4 (TPB)

Brigid Quinn: woman of a certain age, comfortably settled in Arizona with her peace-loving former priest husband and two ugly dogs which she adores. An unlikely solver of mysteries, you might think – until you learn that she keeps a gun beside her bed, comes from a family of law enforcers, and, back in the day, was a crack FBI undercover agent.

So when one of her dogs is poisoned, the mother of a recently dead teenager asks for her help, and a church hall full of people exhibit strange symptoms during post-service coffee time, there’s clearly more going on than meets the eye.

And when Brigid herself starts to show signs of potentially catastrophic illness, it’s no surprise that she begins to suspect she is being drugged or poisoned.

Her biggest problem is that one of the symptoms she experiences is paranoia, which isn’t exactly helpful when two of her main suspects are her niece who has recently come to live with her and does most of the cooking, and the doctor who is dealing with her illness.

Becky Masterman has not only created an original protagonist with bags of personality and an interesting past; she has built a whole community, complete with rich folk, middle-income folk and church folk, doctors and vets, cafés and bars and a landscape with endless potential for concealing crimes. The Arizona desert, with its extremes of climate and surreal vegetation, is a character in itself.

Masterman’s writing also has that indefinable quality which draws the reader into the narrative as not only an observer but almost a participant; several times I found myself experiencing Brigid’s symptoms, and having to make a conscious effort to drag myself back to the real world. Small wonder the first in this intriguing series was nominated for just about every crime fiction award on both sides of the Atlantic. This one is set fair to do just as well, if not better.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Becky Masterman, who was an acquisitions editor for a press specializing in medical textbooks for forensic examiners and law enforcement, received her M.A. in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. Her debut thriller, Rage Against the Dying, was a finalist for the Edgar Award  for Best First Novel, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2013, as well as the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony awards. Becky lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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