Sunday, August 14, 2011
Edge of Darkness by Jove Belle
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Jove Belle has written a book that contains two different stories within one. One story is an intricate suspense tale of revenge and retribution, while the other is a romance. What is different about this book is that the major characters in one story are not the same characters in the other, but the stories twine together to create an extremely good novel.
Diana Collins is an investigator for an insurance company who has been assigned the job of recovering a rare sword that disappeared after it was used to kill its owner. The hunt for the kitana leads Diana into an ever widening circle of clues to horrific crimes, including abused women and gruesome murders. At the center of the vortex is Ali Sandoval, a woman who is haunted by her own violent past, but someone that Diana comes to admire for her work at a shelter trying to protect women from the men who have brutalized them. Coming from a family of police officers, Diana had always thought she had a clear understanding of right and wrong, but the horrible details of these women's lives make her begin to question her own values, especially when she begins to suspect that Ali might somehow be involved in what is happening to some of the men.
Meanwhile, Diana finds herself being distracted by a relationship unlike any she has ever experienced. Cami Michaelson was supposed to be another one-night stand, something Diana is familiar and comfortable with. From their first meeting though, Diana feels something is different about this woman and she finds herself being drawn closer to her. As Cami and Diana explore their deepening feelings, Diana can't help but compare their lives to what she is encountering in her case. As she comes closer to finding the kitana, she can sense the danger increasing also and Diana is torn between how she can see justice carried out while protecting Cami and Ali.
Edge of Darkness is not a "who done it." The reader has the answer to that question from the first pages. The tension in the novel comes from wondering when or if the authorities will ever put the pieces together and come after the killer. It also comes from the reader knowing what is happening, but Diana doesn't. As she takes each step, the reader knows she is unwittingly moving closer to real danger. It's similar to watching a movie when the audience wants to yell, "Don't open that door!" but you know the character will anyway and it won't be good.
Then, as the tension mounts, stress of a different kind is introduced in the form of the love relationship that is developing. That releases the mood of the mystery, but builds suspense of a different kind. Throw in a straight co-worker who also has Diana confused and the reader will begin to wonder what is going to make her pop first.
The character development is especially well done. Diana's struggle to justify her feelings towards the crimes with her strong ethical values reflects the feelings that many people often have to deal with. Her confusion and that of Cami as they try to understand how their relationship could be developing so quickly, yet so deeply, will feel familiar to readers who have felt themselves caught up in such a whirlwind. One of the most simplistic, yet troubling characters, is Ali. Her motivations are easy to understand, but accepting them forces the reader to consider that, sometimes, walking on the dark side might be the right side and that by itself makes the book intriguing.
Reviewers often say that they couldn't put a book down or that a book is a "page turner." In this case, Edge of Darkness fits the descriptions.