Sometimes, the scariest things are what we don’t know about our neighbors and friends, or what goes on behind closed doors. And even scarier is what happens when we are forced to face our deepest flaws and acknowledge what we are capable of doing.
Lisa Unger uses the fears found in everyday life to pump up her exciting psychological thriller “Darkness, My Old Friend.” In this enthralling follow-up to last year’s “Fragile,” Unger again tackles family secrets, the legacy of violence and the complexity of relationships. Again, Unger shows that the family structure makes for some of the most involving mysteries.
“Darkness, My Old Friend” returns to The Hollows, N.Y., a seemingly idyllic town that should be far enough away from New York City that it is not affected by the Big Apple’s crime and problems.
Jones Cooper retired last year from The Hollows Police Department, following the revelation of a situation from his past. He now works around the house and reluctantly attends therapy. To keep himself busy, he does odd jobs for vacationing neighbors — watering their plants, checking on their homes. It’s been suggested he get his private detective license but he doesn’t have the energy.
Across town, businessman Kevin Carr’s debts are piling up — “failure wasn’t a feeling; it was a taste in his mouth, an ache at the base of his neck.” He is determined to leave his life — no matter the cost to his family, which controls with an iron hand.
Jones is pulled into an old case when Michael Holt returns to his hometown after his father’s death. Michael is determined to find out what happened to his mother, who left the family when he was 14 years old. He wants the truth, even if it means learning that his father killed his mom. And 15-year-old Willow Graves, who has reluctantly moved to The Hollows with her newly divorced mother, finds the town a bore and easily falls in with the wrong kind of friends.
Unger skillfully pulls together the various stories in an exciting and logical way. The Hollows is filled with people who have known each other all their lives and it is hard for many of the residents to separate memories of the past with the realities of the present. “The Hollows had a way of encouraging paths to cross.”
“Darkness, My Old Friend” moves at a brisk pace as Unger makes us desperately want to know what drives these various characters. The Hollows perfectly depicts the microcosm of life in an insular town that has far-reaching effects.