Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Path into Darkness by Lisa Alber: Reading Room Review

With the third installment of the County Clare Mysteries, Lisa Alber has cemented the series’ success. One of the descriptions heard in reviews of this series is that it is atmospheric, and that is indeed a delicious element of each book. There is always a lingering of the fey, both its positive and negative mysterious underpinnings. Another strength is Alber’s adeptness at developing interesting characters whose stories weave together from book to book, anchoring the readers to the community of Lisfenora, Ireland and its charm. 

The action gets underway quickly in Path into Darkness, with a local man called Elder Joe found murdered in his cottage. Series favorite Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern is called to the scene where he encounters the bloody corpse of his fellow Plough and Trough Pub patron and the person who found Elder Joe, Merrit Chase. Merrit, who hails from California, now resides in Lisfenora with her father, whom she had come to Ireland in search of, and who is the local matchmaker. As Danny and Merrit have a tense relationship, the investigation into the death begins on a troubling course for Danny. Add in that the investigation is beginning on a Saturday, the day that Danny takes his children to see their comatose mother in the hospital, a situation that Danny feels great guilt about, and it is a trying day indeed. 

Suspects are hard to come by for the murder of Elder Joe, even though he could be a rather reprehensible person. But, a relatively newcomer to the area, Nathan Tate, a potter, becomes a person of interest. Nathan has a troubled past, including a stay in a mental hospital, and his overbearing adult daughter Zoe, whom he abandoned as a teenager, has recently found him and moved in with him. The Tate family has lots of demons and secrets. Nathan’s slippery grip on reality and his memory lapses coupled with Zoe’s claim to be a healer make for some high drama and suspense. Danny must try to sort through what he can uncover to determine if Nathan is indeed a suspect.

The mixture of old and new characters in this story provides plenty of intrigue. Annie, another newcomer to the Lisfenora area, brings a whole other scenario for the murder of Elder Joe, and her journal entries scattered throughout the book provide titillating insight into a psychological mind game occurring. I was happy to see that Merrit had a larger part in this story, along with her father Liam, and their relationship. At this point in the series, Lisfenora has become a familiar place in whose residents the reader has vested affection and concern. I feel that Path into Darkness has solidified the bond between reader and characters that will continue forward. 

Path into Darkness deals with multiple stories, back stories and the murder at the forefront, but Lisa Alber deftly handles all the strings in the web, throwing in a twist or a turn, and brings all to a completed picture, which defies prediction. There are themes of resurrection, second chances, family secrets, family love, and unbearable grief running throughout this clever narrative. Get comfortable and keep a light on because once you start reading Path into Darkness, you will have to chase the thrill to the end.

I received a copy from the author of this book, and I have given a clear, unbiased review.

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