Review: Darkness At The Stroke Of Noon

Published Categorised as Writings, Book Reviews

Darkness At The Stroke Of Noon
Darkness At The Stroke Of Noon by Dennis Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s difficult for me to rate this book. I like the premise very much, of a mystery set in the far North with a small group of suspects and the Mountie trapped with them as winter ice sets in while unknowns hunt him. The writing is good and doesn’t interfere with the story. There is no real lull, but I’m wondering if the problem I had with wanting to read the story is because the middle sagged a bit. As I approached the end, the action didn’t noticeably pick up but I became more engaged in what was happening.

None of the characters pulled me in. I didn’t root for one over the others or feel strongly that one really ought to go. By the middle, I didn’t care enough about the mystery to try and solve it. When I began reading the book, I felt there was potential in the protagonist, but the character didn’t deepen. I’m not sure why not, for we did learn more about him as the story went on, and there were little hooks too to keep us reading — one of which was never answered, perhaps because the author died after finishing the manuscript and he had intended to answer it in a subsequent novel, if, that is, he’d intended this to be the first in a series. It would’ve made a good series because there was lots of room to grow the characters and explore more of the North and internal RCMP shenanigans (which in real life seem to pop up in the news almost weekly).

Unfortunately, the author died before it was published. That means he wasn’t involved in the editing process, not the copy editing but the kind whereby the editor asks questions and the author thinks more about this scene or that character and fleshes them out or prunes them tight. And because the author died, we’re left with this orphan, and I suspect that disappointment may’ve tainted my enjoyment of this book. For that reason, even though I thought it OK (2 stars), I’ll rate it 3 (I like it).

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