Veteran bestselling author Simon Toyne brings us several twists in his new murder mystery, “Dark Objects.” Pay attention because there’s a lot going on in this clever story that includes gruesome murders, mysterious clues, dead people with no background, and an expert on crime who herself was a victim of horrible violence. While the crimes and the mysteries around them are fascinating, equally riveting are the two main characters.
Detective Chief Inspector Tannahill Khan might have dark skin, but his eyes are as blue as the Irish sky from which his mother hails. We quickly learn that bigotry and prejudice have no borders, and Khan is familiar with being taunted and disrespected for his additional melatonin. Laughton Rees, on the other hand, has her own demons. She is the daughter of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner but has not spoken to him in decades. Her mother was brutally murdered by a killer who had been arrested by her father but released via the legal machinations of his attorney. She has studied crime and teaches criminology, writes about it, but always safely studies older crimes from a distant point of view. She never works live cases.
When a lovely blonde woman is found dead, viciously murdered in a carefully curated scene, Khan is called to the site of the slaying. One of the items next to the body is a book on processing crime scenes written by Laughton Rees. This serves to bring Rees and Khan together, and he convinces her that since she is already a part of the investigation, through the inclusion of her book at the crime scene, she might as well consult on the case. The murdered woman’s husband has disappeared, so he becomes a suspect. All that is known about the couple is that they live in an extremely wealthy area of London at the edge of a cemetery, their house is devoid of any clues as to their real identity, and they have no friends or social media. They are themselves mysteries.
What ensues is the tortuous trail that Khan and Rees and others follow to find the killer. There are surprises throughout, including the eventual identity of the couple. We learn about Rees’s traumatic past after the murder of her mother, and we can’t help but admire who she has become. Her teenage daughter, Gracie, is rebellious, and Rees can’t figure out how to communicate with her.
Especially surprising is what Toyne does at the novel’s end —he brilliantly upends everything we think we know in the first two-thirds of the story. The twist is huge, and it makes us ponder just what darkness people are capable of in the name of love. In “Dark Object,” we see the worst of humanity, but we also see the best, as we appreciatively witness forgiveness and hope.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.