Book Review: Too Dark to Sleep by Dianne Gallagher

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This is another book I reviewed for I Read a Book Once:

This is an incredible piece of work that grabs on and doesn’t let go, much like the dark that stalks the main character. I am very happy that this is going to be a series, because the characters, the plot, the writing is superb. Here is the synopsis from Amazon.com:
Avid readers of crime fiction, noir or psychological thrillers will find Too Dark to Sleep a fresh take on their favorite genre. This is the first book in a gripping new series and not to be missed. Maggie Quinn was the top homicide detective in Chicago’s Area One before she suffered a devastating loss. Now struggling to face each day, Quinn becomes obsessed with solving her last case for the department that now bars her from wearing a badge. But is she targeting the right person or is Quinn’s tormented mind pushing her to ruin the life of an innocent man?

I don’t read too many from this genre, but from my limited experience, I can tell this book is different.
The main character, Maggie Quinn, is deeply troubled, still grieving an immense loss, and is afraid of the dark. But, she has the best solve rate out of any of the detectives in her office, and is the best they have.

She also has a father who works for the “Outfit”, read mafia, and is still helping out his daughter from behind bars.
The police request her help when a probable serial killer strikes again. Maggie was the detective that worked the first two, and her police chief is consulting her to help solve the case.

I loved the description of how Maggie processes a crime scene. Her techniques, the way her mind works. I am a fan of Forensic Files, but most of these shows do not go into the exact details that the detectives use to solve the crime.
The stigma of mental illness is very present in this book. Maggie is literally devastated after her loss, and her father is now paying a nurse to live full time with her. The nurse makes sure she eats, sleeps, changes clothes and is protected from herself.

This leads to complications when Maggie goes back to her office on a consultant basis. Her involvement in the case causes objections from some of her former coworkers. She is paired with a new detective who has his own issues.
Together they work to catch the killer that leaves absolutely no trail. Who enjoys taunting the police, and will go to any lengths to maintain his reputation, his lifestyle and his habit of murder.

The one thing that was difficult to me, that I will state here for others who also have this issue, is that Maggie is devastated after the death of her daughter. I knew this going in, but decided to give it a go anyway. I have a daughter near the same age as Maggie’s, and at times it was difficult reading about her grief.
I enjoyed the manner of writing. The way Ms. Gallagher describes Maggie’s condition. I love the way she builds the suspense.

This is written in such a way that the reader isn’t actually sure about the perpetrator until the last chapter. While other books in this genre outright tell you who the killer is, and the book is spent trying to prove it, in this book, the reader is provided with a good amount of reasonable doubt.

Throughout the book the reader is second guessing Maggie, looking for other possible killers along with her and feels the frustration she feels at not getting “her man”.

I also appreciated the peek into the corrupt politics of Chicago that is portrayed. It is very interesting to see how things work in this (hopefully fictional) metropolis.

The ending was unpredictable and a little unsatisfying. I guess I was looking for the rainbows and kitten happy ending for her.

I understand that this is first in a series, and I am looking forward to seeing Maggie develop as a character.

Definitely a must read for anyone that likes this genre.

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