The Hero’s Journey in “Into the Dark”

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger’s car, never to be seen again.

Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm’s length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.

But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his stepfather, Michael is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.

As more bodies start to appear it’s clear that this killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way…

What hinges the entire novel is Karen’s portrayal of deaf/hearing impaired characters. She places them front and center of the plot, the entire story arc revolves around 14 year old Michael who is hearing impaired and his brother, 5 year old Joseph. Escaping from an abusive and brutal home, Michael accidentally witnesses his step father being murdered by a mountainous bald man. No great loss to the world-seriously, this man was the worst type of human-but when his mother starts taking it out on him for his step father’s disappearance, and his bruises are noticed by Joe’s baseball coach, the amazing Diesel Kennedy, things take a turn for the worse. Diesel, is a dead ringer for the man he saw killing his step father.

Terrified that he and his brother will be split up, Michael and Joe have to learn to trust that not all adults who enter their life will bring them physical and emotional pain-step forward Dr Dani Novak, hearing impaired physician, with a deaf brother, who have a genetic disorder called Waardenburg Syndrome, which in her foreward, Karen reveals is carried by herself and through her family.

Dani and Diesel have skirted around each other for almost 2 years, for reasons I am not going to spoil here, both are scared to let go and give in to their feelings but this situation is too close to home and they have to band together to protect these little boys.

Meanwhile, the killer, Cade Kaiser, is on a mission to fight back against those who steal,corrupt and even traffic children and young people to the highest bidder in exclusive poker games. And guess whose step-father had been attending the latest one…

On top of this, you have Grant Masterson, whose brother, undecover cop Wesley, has gone missing. Their younger sister, Laurel had vanished from medical school the year before, and with the trail going cold, both Grant and Wes are estranged and at their wits end. But when Grant investigates, he finds his brother was living a lifestyle that no cop could ever afford, there are guns in his safe, bricks of heroin and an unfeasibly huge amount of money. Oh, and a book of names written in , some of them recognisable, and some of them crossed out…

AND THEN there is the small matter of 7 dismembered bodies being dragged out of the local river, some with signs of being tortured prior to them being killed. Who was responsible and why?

Still with me?

This is exactly what I mean when I get a ranting head on and shout loudly about books derided as popular fiction or chick-lit as writers like Karen Rose are. Popularity apparently means pandering to the lowest common denominator, ‘dumbing down’ to some factions, however,what I have described barely scratches the surface of this plot which had me biting my nails, screaming at characters to get a bloody move on, crying, falling down a rabbit hole to try and understand the various medical conditions mentioned and so forth.

Let me tell you, it is incredibly hard to wring such emotions out of a reader without having pure, honest to goodness talent. ‘Into The Dark’ is a work by a writer who knows exactly what she is doing because she is a master craftsman, and every page is stamped with her unique take on societal issues and prejudice. She raises issues such as victim shaming without being preachy, she holds people to account for their actions and doesn’t paint in broad strokes, she has given nuances and subtlety to all her main characters.

The way that other characters throughout Karen’s Cincinatti universe, are woven through the story with potted histories,makes you want to dive into her other novels. She is absolutely superb at what she does , there is a reason that she is a multi-million selling author, and this book, for me, is peak Rose.

Gripping, moving, emotive and passionate, ‘Into The Dark’ is a great read to treat yourself to.