Thu
May 4 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Darkest Night by Rick Reed

The Darkest Night by Rick Reed is the 5th book in the Detective Jack Murphy series, which finds the detective investigating a murdered cop, his partner's missing niece, and a shadowy voodoo cult. 

If a mystery is set in the swamplands of Louisiana, then even during the day the title The Darkest Night applies. Unscrupulous, corrupt, and possibly murdering cops; voodoo cults; Murphy’s partner, Detective Liddell Blanchard, framed for a murder; and Blanchard’s teenage niece missing—with all this on his plate, Detective Jack Murphy is up to his ass in alligators when he arrives to bail out Blanchard. Murphy knows a setup when he sees one, particularly after he hears that the local police chief didn’t mince words with Detective Blanchard.

The Chief kept her eyes on his and said, “I know my people, Detective Blanchard. And I know your background. And that of your partner, Jack Murphy. And I know who your brother is. And if I may speak plainly, your brother and your partner are big pains in the ass. They are not going to be a pain in my ass. I’m going against my better judgment letting you leave here.”

Liddell closed his mouth, turned, and left the office. He wondered why she wasn’t locking him up.

When Jack Murphy arrives, Blanchard tells him he’s been accused of viciously murdering a female cop. The dead woman, Bitty, “was investigating a shadowy voodoo cult.” Murphy and Blanchard are professionals, equipped mentally and physically to fight the bad guys and win. They have the resources to reach out to Cotton, a cagey recluse who was once on the force. 

Blanchard’s niece Evie, however, is a missing teenager, woefully unable to escape her mysterious prison. She asks herself, “…how could he find her when she herself didn’t know where she was?” Evie’s story is woven through The Darkest Night; it’s stark, gut-wrenching, and scary. Will she escape? Will she be rescued? It’s impossible not to be moved by her terror and anxiety, especially when she thinks about her dad and her mother who left them years ago. 

He would watch the stars with her sometimes. That’s where she learned all that stuff. And she would ask him if her momma was up there among the stars. He would always say, “It’s just you and me, Evie. And that’s enough for me, kid.” He would put his arm around her shoulders and hug her close and kiss the top of her head.

“Oh, Daddy. What have I done? I’m so, so sorry. Please come and get me.”

Murdered cops, a missing teen, a swampy setting—and the last piece of the puzzle: voodoo. Gris-gris (voodoo talismans) appear, menacingly, near the various crime scenes. Are they meant to scare folks off? If so, it’s not working on Jack Murphy.

Jack didn’t believe in magic or coincidence. He believed in Mr. Glock. Murphy’s Law says: never bring a sissy little bag to a gunfight. But if the same Voodoo drawing had been left at Cotton’s and Bitty’s, it couldn’t be a coincidence. 

Coincidence notwithstanding, Blanchard and Murphy have their work cut out for them. The murky undertones and patina of corruption and cruelty don’t deter them from working their investigation, but there’s an air of menace that permeates every page. The Darkest Night is a not-to-be-missed entry in Rick Reed’s Detective Jack Murphy series.

 

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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anne Perry ... I'm always looking for a great new mystery series.

Read all of Janet Webb's articles for Criminal Element!

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