reviewed by Pam Guynn
Dark Night by Paige Shelton is a well-written mystery novel that combines traditional police detective work and amateur sleuthing. Secrets, murder, and a horrific experience that continues to haunt and traumatize the main character make for a suspenseful and riveting read. It’s the third book in the Alaska Wild series and is set in fictional Benedict, Alaska.
Beth Rivers, a successful thriller writer known as Elizabeth Fairchild is still hiding and recovering in Alaska while the Missouri police look for her stalker turned kidnapper. The only person that knows her secret is police chief Gril Samuels.
Winter is starting, but the ferry to and from Juneau is still occasionally running. In comes a census taker, Doug Vitner. He’s not wanted as many in Benedict have secrets of their own or just prefer privacy. On top of that, Beth’s mother Mill shows up expectedly. If she could track down Beth, then could Beth’s stalker find her here? But that’s not all that is happening in this small community. Will Beth’s kidnapper finally be arrested? Will she stay in Alaska? Will Beth learn to fully trust more people in the Benedict community? These are only a few of the questions that must be answered.
Beth’s character was well-developed. She continues to be a flawed protagonist who has shown some growth through making friends and learning to deal with her post traumatic stress disorder, but she still keeps secrets and finds it hard to trust people. Several of the secondary characters gained depth in book of this series as some secrets are revealed while others continue to add to the enjoyment of the book. There are a large number of characters in this story, but several of them were introduced in the earlier books so it felt like I was catching up with old friends.
The author does a great job of portraying the hardships and lack of amenities as well as the friendships, pace of life, the wonders, and the dangers of living in and around small town Alaska. I could easily visualize the town, the people, the road conditions, the cold, the isolation and much more.
This story hooked me immediately and kept me interested throughout. It’s suspenseful and there are twists and turns and surprises along the way in an intricate plot that kept me guessing. From the small town residents to the descriptions of Alaska to the various mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Several themes run through the tale including murder, disappearances, secrets, domestic abuse, dysfunctional families, and much more.
Overall, it was an enjoyable mystery that was engaging, suspenseful, fast-paced and compulsively readable. The well-developed ideas with good pacing from scene to scene kept me turning the pages. If you enjoy well-written mysteries, then I recommend you check out this series. The books are best read in order, but there is enough background that this one could be read as a standalone. I’m looking forward to book four.
St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Paige Shelton provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is set for December 7, 2021.