"Suspense that never stops. If you like Michael Connelly’s novels, you will gobble up Jonathan Moore’s The Dark Room.” —James Patterson
The heart-pounding follow-up to The Poison Artist—called “an electrifying read” by Stephen King—that shows what happens when our deepest secrets are unburied
"Suspense that never stops. If you like Michael Connelly’s novels, you will gobble up Jonathan Moore’s The Dark Room.” —James Patterson
A heart-pounding thriller from an “electrifying”* author that shows what happens when our deepest secrets are unburied.
Gavin Cain, an SFPD homicide inspector, is in the middle of an exhumation when his phone rings. San Francisco’s mayor is being blackmailed and has ordered Cain back to the city; a helicopter is on its way. The casket, and Cain’s cold-case investigation, must wait.
At City Hall, the mayor shows Cain four photographs he’s received: the first, an unforgettable blonde; the second, pills and handcuffs on a nightstand; the third, the woman drinking from a flask; and last, the woman naked, unconscious, and shackled to a bed. The accompanying letter is straightforward: worse revelations are on the way unless the mayor takes his own life first.
An intricately plotted, deeply affecting thriller that keeps readers guessing until the final pages, The Dark Room tracks Cain as he hunts for the blackmailer, pitching him into the web of destruction and devotion the mayor casts in his shadow.
It was after midnight, and Cain and his new partner, Grassley, watched as the excavator’s blade went into the hole, emerging seconds later with another load of earth to add to the pile growing next to the grave. On the phone that afternoon, the caretaker of El Carmelo Cemetery had asked if they could do this at night. There were burials scheduled all day, and he didn’t want to upset anyone. The time of day hadn’t made any difference to Cain. Staying up all hours was his business. He just wanted this done.
After three more scoops with the backhoe, the caretaker rotated the arm out of the way and his assistant jumped down into the hole with a long-handled spade. As he did that, the van from the medical examiner’s office arrived. As it came up the access road, its headlights scanned across Cain and Grassley, and then paused over the exhumation. The caretaker’s assistant climbed out of the hole, blinking against the bright light. Then he took the lifting straps from his boss and jumped back into the open grave.
Cain watched the technicians coming up the hill. A man and a woman, young, no more than a few years out of college. Grassley’s phone rang, and he checked the screen before he answered. He looked at Cain and took a few steps back.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, and then he paused a while to listen. “No, we’re out at El Carmelo, in Pacific Grove ?— ?you know, the Hanley thing?”
Now Grassley was listening again, pressing his finger into his free ear to dull the excavator’s diesel rumble.
“He’s right here. Hold on.”
Grassley handed him the phone.
“It’s the lieutenant,” he said. “She wants to talk to you.”
He took the phone, stepping through the long shadows of the headstones toward the cypress trees at the top of the hill, where he would be farther from the excavator’s idling engine.
“This is Cain,” he said. “What can I do for you, Lieutenant?”
“Something came up. I need to reassign you.”
“We’re right in the middle of something.”
“I wouldn’t pull you off if I had a choice,” she said. “But I don’t. Grassley can take Hanley from here.”
“We’re two hours south.”
“That’s not a problem,” the lieutenant said. “You’re ?— ? Where exactly are you?”
“El Carmelo,” he said. “The cemetery.”
“Hold on, Cain.”
He knew she was checking her computer, pulling up a map. There was too much noise on the hilltop to hear her keystrokes. In less than twenty seconds she was back to him.
“There’s a golf course,” she said. “Right next to you. They can set down, pick you up.”
“The CHP unit.”
“You’re sending a helicopter?”
“It’ll be there in ten minutes,” she said.
“What’s going on?”
His mind went first to Lucy, but the lieutenant wouldn’t have called about her. She didn’t even know about Lucy.
“We’ll talk when you get here, face to face. Not over the phone. Now give me Grassley. I need another word with him.”
He started toward Grassley, then stopped when he saw the hole. He had to try one more time. He cupped his hand over the phone’s mouthpiece, so she’d hear him clearly.
“I spent three weeks setting this up.”
“It’s a wild goose chase, Cain. One that’s been sitting thirty years. I’ve got a problem that’s less than an hour old. Now it’s your problem. Put Grassley on.”
He came back to Grassley and handed him the phone. It wasn’t any use wondering why the lieutenant was pulling him away. Instead, he walked to the edge of the excavated grave and looked down, shining the flashlight he’d been carrying. The caretaker’s assistant was kneeling on top of the casket. He’d dug trenches along its sides and was reaching down to fasten the lifting straps.
Three decades underground, the kid wouldn’t weigh much, at least. And from what Cain understood, by the time he’d finally died, there hadn’t been all that much to put in the casket anyway. The assistant climbed out of the hole again and handed the ends of the four straps to his boss.
Cain checked up the hill and saw Grassley standing under the tree, one finger in his left ear to block the noise as he talked to their lieutenant.
He turned around, putting his hand up to block the light shining in his face.
The woman from the ME’s office lowered her light and came around to stand next to him. She leaned over to look down into the hole.
“You’re riding back with us in the van?” she asked. “We heard something like that.”
“Not me,” Cain said. “I just got reassigned.”
He gestured up the hill toward Grassley.
“He’ll have to go. You or your partner can follow in his car.”
“Reassigned? It’s two a.m. and we’re ?—”
She stopped, following Cain’s eyes to look at the light coming toward them from the north. When the helicopter broke out of the clouds and into clear air, they could hear the whump of its rotors. Cain pointed up the hill toward his partner.
“That’s Inspector Grassley,” Cain said. “Make sure he gets in the van, that he rides with one of you. He might want to drive back on his own, but don’t let him. We need the chain of custody. You understand. I don’t want any problems later, some defense lawyer picking us apart.”
“I get it,” the woman said.
“I’ve got to go,” Cain said. He looked back into the hole, shining his light on the casket’s black lid. “Let’s get this one right.”
He paused on the way down the hill and looked back up at Grassley. They met each other’s eyes and nodded, and that was all. Then he hurried across the access road, toward the long fairway that stretched between the graveyard and Del Monte Boulevard.
When he reached the golf cou...
Praise for THE DARK ROOM
A Library Journal "Essential Thriller" of January 2017
An iBooks Best Book of January 2017
A Northern Virginia Magazine Best New Release of January 2017
“Moore channels the moody intensity of Raymond Chandler’s crime fiction and saturates The Dark Room with the brooding cinematic qualities of the mid-20th century’s black-and-white film noir genre...The Dark Room will prompt readers unfamiliar with Moore to seek out his other works, including The Poison Artist, which Stephen King describes as electrifying. ” — The Washington Post
“Smart plotting. Nary a false note. Suspense that never stops. If you like Michael Connelly’s novels, you will gobble up Jonathan Moore’s The Dark Room.”
"Complex, well-crafted thriller... Moore—an attorney and author of three previous novels, including The Poison Artist and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award—infuses the complicated tale with richly detailed forensic facts and procedural expertise that would make [Kathy] Reichs proud. At the same time, he makes a concerted effort to craft characters you can care about." — BookPage
"An engaging and thoroughly contemporary mystery...The Dark Room is a worthy introduction to Moore’s work, and will soon have you seeking out his earlier titles (like The Poison Artist or Redheads) while waiting for his next crime novel." — Bookgasm
"Exuding noirish elements and utilizing the city’s mean streets to their full, atmospheric effect, The Dark Room oozes dastardly deeds from blackmail to murder – and beyond."—The Seattle Review of Books
"The Dark Room is a complex, edgy, elegant novel that is at once macabre, menacing and mesmerizing. Moore calls this book “the center panel in a triptych” that started with The Poison Artist. The third, The Night Market is scheduled for 2018. I can’t wait." — Open Letters Monthly
"The Dark Room is one of those books that when you think you know what happened, it veers directions and plunges into another stream of questions and doubt...[it] will lure you in from the first chapter and then capture your attention until the very last page....a great crime novel that I won’t forget anytime soon." — Latte Nights Reviews
"Moore's (The Poison Artist, 2016, etc.) complex and often deeply disturbing crime noir set in the City by the Bay delves into dark subjects and the insidious nature of true evil. Two things happen almost simultaneously to San Francisco Police Inspector Gavin Cain: as he and his newly minted partner, Grassley, stand at the grave of Christopher Hanley, a young boy who died years ago, and watch as the casket is exhumed, following up on a tip, he's summoned to tackle a new challenge. His lieutenant has him flown by helicopter to City Hall to consult with the mayor, Harry Castelli, concerning a series of photographs and a note he received. The photos show a beautiful blonde woman who is clearly terrified, but even more disturbing is the note, which indicates that more photos will come unless Castelli kills himself. Castelli says he doesn't know the woman in the photographs and has no idea why anyone would urge him to commit suicide. Cain and FBI agent Karen Fischer struggle to identify the mysterious and apparently doomed blonde in the black-and-white photos, which they believe were taken 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, Cain, whose personal life is already complicated enough—his girlfriend, Lucy, hasn't left her home in four years—is stunned to discover that Christopher Hanley's casket contained not only the corpse of the dead teen, but also the desiccated body of a woman who, judging by the evidence, was buried alive. Moore sketches Cain with a spare pen, leaving the reader to fill in most of the blanks, but his knowledge of police procedure and the nature of the job is immaculate. Moody and macabre with an Edgar Allan Poe feel to it, this book leaves an uncomfortable, indelible impression that can't be shaken by simply putting it down. The featureless Cain and his search for the woman in the casket are irresistible. San Francisco has never been so menacing." — Kirkus, STARRED review
"A dying man’s video confession leads to exhuming a body buried in 1985, with horrifying results: lying on top of the embalmed corpse is the body of a woman who was buried alive. San Francisco PD Inspector Gavin Cain is pulled off this case to work one involving Mayor Harry Castelli, who has just received several incriminating photographs of a woman, with a note promising more—unless he kills himself. The mayor claims no knowledge of the woman in the photos, but since Cain’s boss has hitched her star to the mayor, Cain is immediately assigned to the Castelli case, while still keeping an eye on the exhumation. Inevitably, the two cases become intertwined; meanwhile, Cain’s delving into the nefarious activities of an outlawed Berkeley fraternity in the 1980s puts those dearest to him at great risk. Former medical examiner Henry Newcomb, a major player in Moore’s spellbinding psychological thriller The Poison Artist (2016), plays a small but key role here, as forensics puts the seal on dogged police work. Moore calls this book “the center panel in a triptych” that started with The Poison Artist. With this second electrifying noir thriller, readers won’t want to wait until 2018, when the third, The Night Market, is scheduled for publication." — Booklist, STARRED review
"Intricate thriller... Moore, a terrific stylist, provides telling procedural details (a computer-expert friend helps identify the clothing and jewelry in the decades-old photos) and makes good use of the Bay Area setting." — Publishers Weekly
Praise for THE POISON ARTIST
“The Poison Artist is an electrifying read, building from shock to shock. I read the last one hundred pages in a single sitting. The final chapter is an absolute stunner. I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” —Stephen King
“Patient, stylish and incredibly suspenseful.” —Lee Child
“A magnificent, thoroughly unnerving psychological thriller written in a lush, intoxicating style. I dare you to look away." —Justin Cronin
"The Poison Artist is a rare thing: a totally new take on the mystery-thriller genre...Jonathan Moore's story of a scientist helping the police investigate a femme fatale serial killer using poison is totally fresh and unpredictable. The writing is top-notch, wonderfully evoking a dark and foggy San Francisco where ghosts of the past color the bloody events of the day. Grade: A"—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The Poison Artist takes place in a fog-bound, rain-drenched version of San Francisco, which becomes, in Moore’s telling, almost a city from a dream, where truths and realities slip in and out of focus somewhere between the long nights and the constantly
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