Australian crime author Megan Goldin has had a diverse output, never doing the same thing twice. But in her latest novel Dark Corners successfully returns to the main character from probably her best novel to date The Night Swim. That character, a popular true crime podcaster, allows Goldin to move on from the subject matter, characters and themes of her previous novel and to still delve into a completely different world.
Dark Corners has a number of intriguing but disparate openings. One is the transcript of a new Rachel Krall true crime podcast, the second is Rachel herself, summoned to a prison in Florida by the FBI and the third is the point of view of a creepy Uber driver. Readers of this type of crime fiction will already know that the strands will come together eventually and Goldin does plenty to keep readers invested in all three. In what is the main plotline, Krall has been coopted by the FBI to meet with a prisoner, Terence Bailey who is suspected of a series of killings a few years before and is about to be released. Bailey had met with internet influencer Maddison Logan a few days before and now Maddison is missing. While she does not learn anything from the meeting, Krall is intrigued and despite the FBI wanting her gone she stays in Daytona and gets herself into a gathering of influencers called Buzzcon to try and dig up more information on Maddison.
While there is a great mystery (or actually a few related mysteries) well told and well resolved (with one caveat), the core of this book is Goldin’s view into the world of internet influencers. Goldin takes Krall into a minefield of narcissistic, entitled self promoters and explores what drives these people and makes them what they are. That caveat is the character of Thomas McCoy – clearly disturbed and somehow involved in the nefarious goings on but identifiable (and possibly scarred) by a medical condition that gives him terrible body odour. Which feels like the equivalent of the old tropes of giving the villain a limp or an eye patch.
Overall this is another great crime novel from Goldin based around a engaging character. Crime fiction has always thrived on the amateur sleuth character and true crime podcasters are quickly becoming the go-to amateur sleuths of 21st century fiction. This is already the second book featuring Krall but it feels like there is potentially a successful long term series in the offing here. And now paired with an attractive and intuitive FBI agent allows Goldin to cover all of the investigative bases to deliver another great crime thriller.