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In Dark Places
Michael Prescott
Onyx, 372 pages

In Dark Places
Michael Prescott
Michael Prescott's other novels include The Shadow Hunter, Stealing Faces and Comes the Dark.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Next Victim
SF Site Review: The Shadow Hunter

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

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If Michael Prescott ever asks you to be in one of his books, run the other way; characters in his novels are in for nothing but some seriously bad shit. There's just no other way to describe it. Ask Amanda Pierce, from Next Victim or Devin Corbal, from The Shadow Hunter. Oh wait... You can't ask them because they're dead. There's a lot of that going around in Prescott's creations. And more victims are queuing up for a chance to die. It is dark realism, after all.

From the start, Robin Cameron is just throwing herself in the path of a bullet-train of trouble. She's a psychiatrist, actively in search of the most unstable people imaginable. Her clients include Justin Gray, a notorious, sadistic serial killer with an uncanny talent for spotting the weakness in his prey. The radical experiment she is pursuing is intended to cure such sociopaths, but there is no way to verify the results and the common wisdom is that anti-social personality disorder has no cure. It's possible that the treatment won't even have a positive, lasting effect on Alan Brand, a cop who has been falling apart since a shooting incident. Add to that a rebellious teenage daughter and a curious ignorance of proper security procedures and you have a tragedy waiting to happen.

Really, a psychiatrist should know better. Robin's is about to make a possibly fatal mistake: underestimating just how evil humans can be. Or, even admitting that evil exists. She wouldn't be the first to learn the hard way.

Prescott has always excelled in creating taut, suspenseful storylines and In Dark Places is no exception; the urge to read straight on through to the end is virtually irresistible. But, this time he has given life to one of the most memorable characters in many years; Justin Gray is the very embodiment of the sociopathic killer. His inner monologue, his behaviour, and his terrifying ability to manipulate people are a chilling reminder of what is out there. Gray's shift from one role to another to suit the situation and project the personality he chooses is as effortless on donning a rubber mask. For all those people who are amazed when people "fall" for a serial criminal's act, this should put an end to that thought. They do build up body counts because they appear so normal.

The question in this novel is just who can you trust? If everything and everyone were exactly as they seem life would so much simpler. For good or bad, reality is not like that. So, keep your eyes peeled for the bad, such as Justin Gray, and the good, such as Michael Prescott's novels. At least, there are some things you can count on; for the rest, it looks like you're on your own.

Copyright © 2004 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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