“That darkness” by Lisa Black

that darkness“Is it better to do the right thing or the legal thing?”

What’s a cop to do when he craves justice and there just doesn’t seem to be any??? Well, he takes matters into his own hands.  Jack Renner, Cleveland homicide detective just wants to make the world a safer, more ‘just’ place. He kills, but only the lowlifes who have escaped the traditional methods of justice – the ones that present a danger to others.  He reminded me more than a little of the Dexter character created by Jeff Lindsay. Though where Dexter is a sociopath who wants to kill and gets rid of criminals as a killing ‘outlet‘, our man Jack Renner seems to be ‘normal’ but with an underlying personal reason for his foray into vigilantism.  A reason not divulged to the reader right away…    He prides himself on killing in a humane way – of doing a job that needs doing.  He feels he is protecting society.



Jack Renner can’t be a bad person…  his housemate (and confidante) is a ex-stray cat he took in named Greta.


Maggie Gardiner is a civilian forensic investigator working for the Cleveland Police Department. Her specialty is fingerprint analysis and the little details are her forte. Once married to a police detective, she is now a loner, a workaholic who walks Cleveland’s city streets at night to stave off loneliness and life’s stresses.

fingerprint analysis

fingerprint analysis

Patty Wildwood is a hard-working homicide detective.  She is on a never-ending treadmill of murder cases to solve and she welcomes Maggie’s assistance hoping it will lighten her heavy workload.

It seems that three shots to the head at very close range with a .22 caliber handgun is becoming a very common method of murder in Cleveland.smith-wesson-mp22

When trace evidence similarities present themselves in the bodies of several of her latest cases, Maggie is the first to believe that given the fact that all the victims appear to be career criminals, that there might be a vigilante at work in Cleveland.

Jack, ever wary of Maggie and her speculations, wants to find out how much she knows and whether he is on her radar.  He tries to convince Maggie that they are ‘on the same side’ knowing that he will be caught sooner or later, and he is comfortable with that – though he would like to do some more ‘work’ first.

Maggie begins to suspect that the killer could be a member of the police force – but voicing that speculation would be unhealthy for her career with the Cleveland P.D.


A novel that portrays the ethical questions surrounding vigilantism,  in “That Darkness” the reader is unsure whether or not they should be rooting for the ‘bad guy’… If you do then does that kind of thinking breed chaos?

The climax of the story takes place at the Rockefeller Mansion at Euclid and East 40th in Cleveland.  After reading it you will have images in your mind that you will never forget.

Rockefeller mansion at Euclid and East 40th, Cleveland, Ohio

Rockefeller mansion at Euclid and East 40th, Cleveland, Ohio

The beautiful cover of this book is what first attracted me, but the cover in no way suggests the darkness of the title.  Anyone interested in character-driven suspense, and those who enjoy forensic detail,  will enjoy this title, the first in a new series featuring Jack and Maggie.  I’m hoping to learn a little more about Maggie in subsequent novels. It is not a ‘whodunit’, rather, it is a ‘whydunit’.  I find I like whydunit’s more and more.

F 4 star

Many thanks to Kensington Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for reading and review.about the author pink

Lisa Black

Lisa Black

Before turning her talents to writing, Lisa Black worked as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office.  She now works in Florida where, like her protagonist Maggie, she works mostly with fingerprint analysis and crime scenes.  As a forensic specialist forensic specialist, she is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, the International Association for Identification, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts and is a Certified Latent Print Examiner.

She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Suspense and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “That darkness” by Lisa Black

  1. This one does sound great, I thought of Dexter and another character….. it will come to me. This is a hard one, both are wrong but shutting the bad you kind of want to root for.


  2. skyecaitlin says:

    This sounds awesome, Lynne: I love topics that deal with legal vs ethical or Natural Law.


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