The Dark Room by Sam Blake

Hare’s Landing, West Cork. A house full of mystery…

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.

New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.

As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…

Best known for her Cat Connolly series, Sam Blake has returned with a wonderfully written standalone. Rachel Lambert works in the film industry in London and the death of a homeless man prompts her to investigate his life. She suspects he was involved in something suspicious as someone seems to be targeting her and her partner because of their links to him. This investigation brings her to Hare’s Landing, a country house hotel in West Cork.

Meanwhile, Caroline Kelly, a crime reporter in New York is drawn home to Ireland to escape her stressful job. Both woman soon hit it off and their inquisitive natures draw them into a mystery that has haunted the hotel and its vicinity for decades. The hotel’s former owner died under suspicious circumstances and the disappearance of a local girl all seem to be linked with the homeless man. Rachel’s German Shepherd Jasper is also instrumental in the investigation.

West Cork is dark and atmospheric with its wild January weather and rural isolation. Hare’s Landing is lavish and rich, reminiscent of Manderlay, the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The hotel is undergoing renovations whilst it’s closed for the Winter season and there’s a supernatural element as the girls try to piece together its history. Crime writers regularly discuss ways they can remove WiFi and CCTV from their contemporary stories to make the investigations more challenging and interesting. Blake has done this in a thoroughly believable way as the WiFi in West Cork is patchy even in calm weather, never mind in the depths of winter.

The book cleverly combines several historical cases with a contemporary story in a layered and well-paced thriller that demonstrates that the past can haunt the present and that choices made in the past can have very real consequences for a large number of people.

Corvus, 7th January 2021

About the author

Sam Blake has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut novel ‘Little Bones’ (Bonnier 2016) was No 1 in Ireland for four weeks, remained in the top 10 for another four, and was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. It launched the bestselling Cat Connolly trilogy.

Moving away from police procedurals Sam is keeping a focus on strong female characters, writing psychological thrillers for Corvus Books. ‘Keep Your Eyes On Me’ went straight to No 1 in January 2020 and ‘The Dark Room’ was an Eason Ireland No 1 for three weeks in January 2021.

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