1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.
But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…
Until five minutes ago, just before I began this review, I had no idea that this book was inspired by real life events in 1946. Dubbed the Texarkana Moonlight Murders by the media – those pesky journalists! – an unknown killer named the Phantom held the small town to ransom in the spring of 1946. The murderer was never caught.
69 years later Rod Reynolds has penned The Dark Inside loosely based on the eight murders and boy is it a page turner. It had me gripped from start to finish and although I had an inkling as to who was responsible for the murders in Rod’s book, I didn’t quite get it right! Twists and turns abound the book keeps you interested right up until the reveal.
The funny thing is with this book I didn’t warm to the main protagonist, disgraced journalist Charlie Yates, a big city hot shot who has been sent to the minor leagues by his boss to report on a non-story is sent to pasture in the remote town. Given a full expense account he checks in to the best hotel in the town and begrudgingly goes to work. He has no interest in the story or the people killed, initially, and it shows. With a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas he’s quickly alienated by the locals, including the local police who definitely has something to hide. I didn’t like him, his attitude or his mannerisms. Slowly but surely you do warm to him as his attitude to the town and people change, but not enough for me to like him at the end! I’m sure his mother loved him!
That said I don’t think he was ever supposed to be a character you love, I could be wrong of course! On the flip side there are characters in the book you truly detest, mainly due to their actions – both past and present – and there are a couple of bit players you warm to and then change your mind! It’s that kind of book but characterisation is very good and well structured.
From the very outset I was transported to 1946 Texas and I never left, the book has no trouble in holding your attention or making you believe that seeing GI’s roaming the streets and bars is the norm. I didn’t miss the internet, my iPhone or online shopping once! Very well done.
A fairly rapid read with a clever outcome I really enjoyed the read and the story has a great blend of fact, fiction and intrigue to make you want to discover the true story behind the murders.
- Paperback:400 pages
- Publisher:Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Sept. 2015)