I’m always sad when Candice Fox ends a series, but I should know I don’t need to wallow for long as she’s always back with the next big thing. I wasn’t entirely ready for her Crimson Lake series to be over (and perhaps it isn’t?!) but I was able to take solace in the fact she was working on something new. I note this isn’t officially called number 1 (#1) but I’m crossing several limbs it is as I really liked the characters she introduces here.
by Candice Fox
Published by Bantam Australia
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction
A convicted killer. A gifted thief. A vicious crime boss. A disillusioned cop. Together they’re a missing girl's only hope.
Dr Blair Harbour, once a wealthy, respected surgeon in Los Angeles, is now an ex-con down on her luck. She’s determined to keep her nose clean to win back custody of her son.
But when her former cellmate, Sneak Lawlor, begs for help to find her missing daughter, Blair is compelled to put her new-found freedom on the line. Joined by LA’s most feared underworld figure, Ada Maverick, the crew of criminals bring outlaw tactics to the search for Dayly.
Detective Jessica Sanchez has always had a difficult relationship with the LAPD. And her inheritance of a $7 million mansion as a reward for catching a killer has just made her police enemy number one.
It’s been ten years since Jessica arrested Blair for the cold-blooded murder of her neighbour. So when Jessica opens the door to the disgraced doctor and her friends late one night she expects abuse, maybe even violence.
What comes instead is a plea for help.
We’re given two leads here – Blair and Jessica. We hear from Blair in first person and Jessica in third person. I liked both and must admit I was impatiently waiting for their paths to cross (without realising it previously had!) and relieved when it does.
It’s interesting that Fox so often writes flawed lead characters with strange predilections (like the murderous Eden in her first series) or quirky (slightly sociopathic) Amanda in Crimson Lake series. Fox doesn’t initially give us any detail about Blair’s crime and only ekes it out later in the book. In some ways it’s an aside. It ruined her life, though it’s interesting that Blair doesn’t dwell on that. She’s not full of self-pity and I appreciated that.
And then there’s Jessica. I loved that Fox picks up her story part-way through as well. We don’t really need to learn about the Silver Lake Killer cold-case she (basically) single handedly solved (resulting in her inheritance), we just need to understand how angry she is at the way she’s suddenly treated by her colleagues when she (herself) hasn’t given them any reason.
Fox’s characters tends to be cynical and here both characters certain have little reason to have faith in others. Which probably makes them likely bedfellows in some ways.
Of course there are a few other players – Jessica’s creepy colleagues and an interesting forensics officer I hope we meet again. And then there are Blair’s fellow ex-cons (Sneak and Ada). Neither of whom you’d trust as far as you could throw them, though both seem to have a soft spot for Blair.
I liked the characters so much the plot was kinda secondary. Not irrelevant as there’s a fair bit happening: bank robbers on death row, mobsters, bent cops; but it felt this was more about introducing Jessica and Blair (et al) and giving us the chance to get to know them.
This is certainly a fast-paced read as the action doesn’t stop and it’s far from predictable. As is the case with many of Fox’s books, our characters walk that fine line between doing what’s right and what’s legal. Justice doesn’t always prevail (for both the goodies OR the baddies).
I’ve decided to assume there’ll be more in the series and certainly the book ends in a way that lends itself to continuing, which again has offered me some comfort.
Gathering Dark by Candice Fox will be published in Australia by Bantam Australia (Penguin Books) on 31 March 2020.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.