Dark Corners by Megan Goldin features a podcaster. I’ve noticed it’s increasingly common for books to feature podcasters, or true crime web/streaming series and the like, and being able to switch up the narrative with scripts or other text is a useful device for keeping readers’ attention. (Interestingly I wonder how they’ll age. If in 20 years it’ll be the equivalent of us reading about telegrams sent a century ago or radio plays.) Anyhoo, it took me a while to realise this also felt familiar as it is the second in the series featuring Rachel Krall. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not read The Night Swim, as I’d certainly not put the pieces together for much of the novel.Dark Corners
by Megan Goldin
Series: Rachel Krall #2
Published by Michael Joseph
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
Terence Bailey is about to be released from prison for breaking and entering, though investigators have long suspected him in the murders of six women. As his freedom approaches, Bailey gets a surprise visit from Maddison Logan, a hot, young influencer with a huge social media following. Hours later, Maddison disappears, and police suspect she’s been kidnapped—or worse. Is Maddison’s disappearance connected to her visit to Bailey? Why was she visiting him in the first place?
When they hit a wall in the investigation, the FBI reluctantly asks for Rachel’s help in finding the missing influencer. Maddison seems only to exist on social media; she has no family, no friends, and other than in her posts, most people have never seen her. Who is she, really? Using a fake Instagram account, Rachel Krall goes undercover to BuzzCon, a popular influencer conference, where she discovers a world of fierce rivalry that may have turned lethal.
When police find the body of a woman with a tattoo of a snake eating its tail, the FBI must consider a chilling possibility: Bailey has an accomplice on the outside and a dangerous obsession with influencers, including Rachel Krell herself. Suddenly a target of a monster hiding in plain sight, Rachel is forced to confront the very real dangers that lurk in the dark corners of the internet.
Because I’d not remembered this book’s predecessor I did struggle a little initially with the lack of backstory around Rachel. We learn quickly she’s become a house-hold name thanks to clearing the name of a man incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. But I wondered how she became a podcaster and what her professional history was. Thankfully quite late in the book she tells FBI agent Joe Martinez that she was a journalist which eventually gave me the context I needed to work out her ‘why’.
Rachel’s chapters are interspersed with the podcast script – kinda wrapping things up for us and doing a great job of foreshadowing what’s coming. Then there’s Thomas (Tommy) McCoy, a rideshare driver. He’s obviously very creepy and well, ahem has violent thoughts he only partially shares with us. I felt Goldin does a good job at giving us enough insight into his thinking that we’re wary, but not enough to know why.
I liked Rachel a lot. I did think some of the narrative around Joe was a little clumsy, particularly in the way he talks about his attraction to Rachel. I grimaced a few times as it seemed a little puerile/juvenile (though I do have a low threshold in that respect!). But I did like that Goldin doesn’t delay the inevitable when the time comes and there was no game-playing.
Goldin also provides some commentary here on social media influencers as much of this is set at a ‘ BuzzCon’ (a social media influencers’ convention) where the very faux lives of social media stars or wannabes are exposed. It’s a bit cynical and I’d like to think it’s exaggerated but probably isn’t. I’d like to think in real life some of these peeps would be taking the piss out of themselves a little more when amongst counterparts. Though perhaps that’d also be perceived as making fun of their influencees (the public) for falling for the crap they’re peddling.
I’ve mentioned in my reviews of her standalones that I like that Goldin very much mixes things up in terms of her content. And although this is the second in this series, it’s different to the first so I’m looking forward to the next instalment.
Dark Corners by Megan Goldin was published in Australia by Michael Joseph (Penguin).
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.