Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

12/04/2018

Find You in the Dark by Nathan RipleyFind You In the Dark has an intriguing premise.  Martin Reese is a retired tech billionaire with a wife and teenage daughter. But Martin has a secret hobby. He follows the careers of arrested serial killers and uses the clues they leave behind to find where they buried their victims. He then goes out, uncovers the body, takes his own series of macabre photos and then anonymously calls the police to reveal the location of the body and brag about the fact that they failed to find it. But his activities have caught the attention of a real serial killer who decides that it is time for Martin to experience the real thing.

Find You in the Dark tries to play it both ways. Martin is not a serial killer but his character is based on the premise that he has all the psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies to be one, just never the will to carry it through. The assumption is that his obsession with actual killers is his proxy way of dealing with his desires. So much so that he started following and then married Ellen, the sister of serial killer victim Tinsley back when he was in college. He credits the love of Ellen and the birth of his daughter Kylie for keeping him off the darker path. But due to his serial killer tendencies he has those mystical crime solving skills of other literary killers like Hannibal Lecter and Dexter that allow him to get into the heads of real killers and solve crimes that police could not possibly solve. Neither of these traits make him a particularly likeable or interesting character, though, so that while readers might care about Martin’s family, it is hard to really care what happens to him.

The plot takes a little while to heat up, tracking through Martin’s obsession and his careful hiding of it from his wife and family. And introducing super-detective Sandra Wittal who wants to catch the “Finder” as she calls Reese. In the end the real killer appears on the scene and starts toying with Martin, manipulating him towards his own nefarious ends. Sandra works out quite quickly (and super intuitively) that Reese is likely to be the “Finder” and that he is being played by a separate killer. But she can’t get any evidence on Martin or convince her colleagues and can’t work out whether the two are working together or not. As the noose tightens on Martin, the action heats up but the premise makes this always feel a little contrived.

Thinking too much about the premise of Find You in The Dark raises a number of additional questions. Where do all of these serial killers come from? Why do all serial killers seem to insist on burying their victims in forests and then leaving cryptic clues as to their whereabouts? Does an obsession with serial killers really make you more likely to be a serial killer or understand their actions?

In many respects Find You in the Dark will still satisfy those into serial killer narratives with what is, at least, an original twist on the genre. But this is not a book that invites deep analysis. It is designed to keep readers turning the pages rather than stopping to think too deeply by ratcheting up the pressure on the main character who keeps having to continually twist and turn to avoid both discovery and a series of increasingly dire fates. Remaining invested, though, depends on the reader having some sympathy for Martin and Ripley makes that hard to come by.

Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

$29.99 AUD
Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley
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Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

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