May 23

The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds

The Dark Inside1946, 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…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.


My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy

The Dark Inside is one of those stories which will totally get under your skin – in a good way.  It made me rage at the characters, it made me worry when the lead character (Charlie Yates) wouldn’t listen to reason and the bullying – oh the bullying – at times it made me hate everyone in Texarkana. So well realised is the world of 1946 USA that Rod Reynolds took me to a time and a place far away from my mundane commute to work.

Charlie Yates is a disgraced reporter.  He has clashed with his boss one time too many (early signs of the temper which will cause him problems throughout The Dark Inside) and he is sent to small town Texas to report on a series of brutal murders.  But when he gets to Texarkana the authorities do not want a city reporter sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.  They also don’t want to accept the possibility that the murders which have taken place may be the work of one man – a man as yet unidentified and who may possibly kill again.  Yates is facing opposition to his investigations every where he turns. He is warned off pursuing leads and, when he doesn’t listen, the warnings become more forceful.  Yates needs to leave town – while he still can.

The Dark Inside captures the mood and feeling of 1940’s USA.  The setting is so very unusual in today’s crime fiction releases that it stands out from the crowd, distinctive, different and very memorable. Charlie Yates is a likeable lead character but he has some very real flaws which have brought his life to a real low-point, the inner demons that he faces add an interesting angle to the story.

I touched on the bullying.  I hate bullying, but it is rife in Texarkana and Mr Reynolds plays this to wonderful effect. Was it a sign of the times?  The powerful men of the town all believe that they call the shots, but there is always someone more powerful, someone with more knowledge and clout and one by one the bullies will fall. It kept me reading, that wait to see justice done, fairness restored and ‘good’ winning through. Did it?  Well that would be a *spoiler*.

When when an author can make me angry at his characters then I know that I am reading a book I am going to love.  When that book finishes and I immediately want to read more from that author then I am a happy reader.

This is a debut novel – it is a mighty fine thing. Assured writing, excellent pacing, wonderful characterisation (even those odious bullies) and a cracking murder mystery. Read this!


The Dark Inside is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats.  You can order a copy by clicking through this link:

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Posted May 23, 2016 by Gordon in category "5* Reviews", "From The Bookshelf