August 30, 2008

The Darker Side

The Darker Side by Cody McFadyen
2008 Bantam
368 pages
Finished on 8/28/08
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)

Publisher's Blurb:

Cody McFadyen has shocked even the most jaded suspense fans with Shadow Man and The Face of Death. Now comes a thriller that outdoes them all, featuring a psychopath on a perverse crusade of murder. And the one woman who can stop him may have to cross the line to do it.

A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire—what secret was a very private young woman keeping that led to her very public murder? That's the question FBI special agent Smoky Barrett and her handpicked team of experienced manhunters are summoned to answer by order of the FBI director himself. Brilliant, merciless, righteous, the killer Smoky is hunting is on his own personal mission. For in his eyes no one is innocent. Soon Smokey will have to confront a flawless killer who knows her flaws with murderous intimacy.

McFadyen has done it again. He's written a gritty, disturbing thriller that kept me wondering what kind of person writes about such horrific killings, and perhaps more importantly, what kind of person reads them?! The Darker Side reads a bit like true crime (although my experience with that genre is limited to Helter Skelter), full of tension and edginess that invades my thoughts and dreams. As with all my favorite series, it's the characters that keep me coming back. Smoky's an intriguing heroine and I enjoyed learning more about her and her co-workers, curious to learn more about the life of an FBI agent.

On murder...

The murdered move me. Good or bad, they had hopes and dreams and loves. They once lived, like all of us, in a world where the deck is stacked against living. Between cancer or crashes on the freeway or dropping dead of a heart attack with a glass of wine in your hand and a strangled smile on your face, the world gives us plenty of chances to die. Murderers cheat the system, helping things along, rob the victims of something it's already a fight to keep. This offends me. I hated it the first time I saw it and I hate it even more now.

One of my frustrations with series of this genre is the need to outline the back-story of previous books. Often I'll find myself a bit annoyed and bored when an author spends too much time reminding the reader of significant events from an earlier work. This was not the case with The Darker Side. McFadyen writes like a veteran, deftly laying out all the necessary details without falling into the trap of overstating the obvious or padding the story with unnecessary commentary. I was immediately drawn into the narrative; the pacing is consistent and riveting, and the situations and dialogue completely believable. And, yes, in spite of the nature of these thrillers, I'll be one of the first in line to buy Cody's next book.

And now for a couple of give-aways! I have a brand new mass market copy of The Face of Death (Cody's second book in this series), as well as an ARC of The Darker Side. Leave me a comment with the title of the book you're interested in and I'll pick the winners in one week.

If you're like me and curious as to how Cody can create such evil villains (and how this affects him), check out his guest appearance here and here.

Better yet, Cody now has a blog! You can find it (and pictures of his dogs, aka "The Black Forces of Destruction") on his website.

Note to Cody: I like this title much better than Secret Sins!


  1. Well, you know that I would love to have The Darker Side, but I fully understand that you have already been very generous to me. :) BTW - I bought Shadow Man today.

    I was so excited when I saw that Cody adopted a blog, too!

    As for The Darker Side, I am tickled pink that you enjoyed it so much. I only skimmed most of your post (I know you don't write any spoilers, but I just couldn't) and look so forward to reading it.

    Thanks, Les, for blogging about him in the first place. He write gruesome stuff, but I think he's an excellent writer. Actually, he's the epitome of thrillers!

  2. Anonymous8:14 PM

    I'm so glad that you blogged about this book. I still have to read FACE OF DEATH and then I already have a copy of DARKER SIDE. Don't enter me in the draw for these books, but I look forward to them. His style is quite gruesome but I recommended his books to a female patron recently and she came back to the library singing his praises. She really liked gruesome thrillers. Thanks for the review!

  3. Oh this does sound good. I hadn't heard of him before - where have I been?
    If your giveaway is open to us international bloggers, I'd love to have my name thrown in the hat. Should they be read in order? I suppose the earlier book then.

  4. Well, I'll bite! Put me in the drawing for The Face of Death. I better head right over to bookmooch and add his first book to my wishlist. I trust your recommendations and then to have Joy's and Kay's too - how can I go wrong?! Thanks, Les.

  5. I hope you've been over to enter for the Farworld book I'm giving away. The drawing ends today. I thought it was a really good YA fantasy.

  6. I've already read the first two books and would love to be entered to win the ARC of the third.
    I would also recommend "Heartsick" by Chelsae Cain. If anything it is even more twisted then McFayden's books. It and "Shadow Man" are the best serial killer novels I have read since "Silence of the Lambs". And there is a sequel to it, "Heartsick", coming out this month also. I just finished reading it and it was excellent too.


  7. Aaack! I still haven't read ShadowMan yet ;-) Not posting for the giveway, but just to say it's good to hear the series is holding your interest.

  8. I think I first heard about this author from you... I'm sorry I still haven't read his first book but I know it's on my TBR list. Same question as Tanabata, do you recommend reading them in order?

    Oh and please throw my name in the hat for the second book in the series :)

  9. Joy - I just know you're going to love this new one!

    Kay - Isn't it odd how we can really enjoy these gruesome books? It's gotta be the writing and the characters, don't you think? I can't wait to hear what you think of this one (and The Face of Death).

    Nat - Sure, I'll include international bloggers. :) Your name's in the hat!

    As far as reading them in order, I want to say yes, but then, I'm pretty anal when it comes to reading any series in order. Cody does a great job with the back story stuff, so if you don't mind a spoiler or two, you certainly could read them out of order. I guess it just depends on your own preference.

    Booklogged - Got you down for The Face of Death! Oh, and to add another voice of praise, my sister-in-law LOVES these books and is currently devouring The Darker Side. Hope you enjoy the series as much as the rest of us. :)

    Lee - Gotcha down for the third! Thanks for the recommendation for Heartsick. I haven't heard of it, but I'll add it to my TBR list.

    SuziQ - You're more than welcome to join in the drawing. Reading the first isn't a requirement to win, ya know. :)

    Iliana - See my above note to Nat. Got your name in the hat for the 2nd. Good luck!


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