Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Review: Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day

A new book with an exciting setting is the subject of Kerry Hammond's review today.

Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day was published on August 7, in Hardcover, by William Morrow. Rader-Day is the award winning author of three previous standalone mysteries, and you can read a Mystery Playground review of The Day I Died here. One of the things that always draws me to Rader-Day’s books are the unique premises and characters.

In Under a Dark Sky, the story is set in a part of northern Michigan near a Dark Sky Park. A Dark Sky Park is an area noted for its exceptional star and constellation viewing. It’s where the public can go to view starry nights without light pollution. It’s also where Eden Wallace finds herself mixed up in murder.

After a traffic accident took the life of her husband of nearly 10 years, Eden finds among his paperwork a reservation for a week’s vacation at a Dark Sky Park. When she arrives she finds that she doesn’t have the place all to herself, but is sharing the house with six college friends who are having a reunion of sorts. Still grieving over the loss of her husband, and experiencing an acute fear of the dark, Eden decides to leave but can’t do so until daybreak—at least that was the plan. Instead she wakes to find one of the other guests has been murdered and she, along with the other five, are suspects.

Part of what sucked me right into this book was the unique premise. I love a good closed universe mystery where all the characters are snowed in or on a remote island. During the murder this was the case, and the darkness added an extra eerie aspect to the story. I found myself picturing myself there with the characters, experiencing the intense darkness, wondering how I would feel in a similar situation. 

We watch Eden struggle to make sense of the murder as well as her life and her grief. It’s a story of personal awakening as much as it’s a murder mystery. Eden was very much alone, a 7th wheel in a situation where emotions ran high between the six friends. As can be expected, the friends toggled between acceptance of her and blame—since it’s easier to blame an outsider. The flip flopping of their feelings toward her got a little bit much, but on the whole I enjoyed the story and it kept me guessing. It inspired me too, I’m now off to find a Dark Sky Park to visit!

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