Review: Murder in the Dark by Simon R. Green

The sudden appearance of a sinister black hole in the English countryside leads to a baffling murder investigation for Ishmael Jones.

“The past is England’s dreaming, and not all of it sleeps soundly…”

Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny have been despatched to assist a group of scientists who are investigating a mysterious black hole which has appeared on a Somerset hillside. Could it really be a doorway to another dimension, an opening into another world?

When one of the scientists disappears into the hole — with fatal consequences — Ishmael must prove whether it was an accident — or murder. But with no clues, no witnesses and no apparent motive, he has little to go on. Is there an alien predator at large, or is an all-too-human killer responsible? Only one thing is certain: if Ishmael does not uncover the truth in time, more deaths will follow…

Murder in the Dark by Simon R. Green. Book #6 in the Ishmael Jones Mystery series. Published by Severn House Publishers in 2018. Hardback edition, 169 pages.

Well. This is book 6 in the series. And I have voiced several complaints about the other books in this series so far in my past reviews. I love this author, but so far, this series has been a little bit disappointing. Predictable plots and killers, uber cliches all over, and too much repetition has plagued the series from the beginning. To say I was a little trepidatious going into book 6 is an understatement. >.>

Murder in the Dark actually turned out a lot better then the other books in the series. The author, thankfully, decided to switch things up a bit for this book. Instead of yet another locked room/ mansion story, this time, we see the characters out at an archeological site, in a huge open space outside. This was a really refreshing change of scene! Another nice change was the dialogue between Ishmael and Penny. In the past, their banter back and forth has felt very cut and paste and repitious. This time around, we didn’t just see the same exact phrases between the two of them. Their conversations felt much more natural and had a little bit more chemistry. Also, their conversations this time around weren’t so cheesy.

As we saw in the last book, Ishmael’s abilities were a non-factor in a very lame way. You can read my review for Into the Thinnest Air for specific details. Basically it just felt super unbelievable the way it happened. This time around, we see Ishmael lose his powers (Really? Back to back books with non-working powers? >.> ), but the reason was easier to accept. It was actually a legit reason unlike last time.

I really loved the plot in this book. I thought it was a really fun and unique idea to have this crazy black hole out in the middle of some farmer’s land, in the boondocks of the UK. I can’t say too much about it without giving spoilers. Sorry! There was one big problem with the plot though. It’s a problem we’ve seen in past books from this series as well… especially with book # 5. There felt like a LOT of filler! It’s because there was a lot of down time where the characters would go stare at the hole, then go back and sit at the camp fire and talk about their options. The same options. EVER. TIME. It was pretty much the exact same conversations each time. It got super old, super quick. I mean, I get that they were stuck and the options where low, but come on! To make it feel even more like filler was the fact that Murder in the Dark was very low on action throughout the whole book. Even the bad guy didn’t put up a fight when confronted at the end. No action made all the siting at the fire with repeat conversations 100 times more noticeable. It was entertaining, but not as exciting as some of the others in the series. Felt like it could have been trimmed up some and maybe turned in to a novella or short story. I did enjoy learning more about where Ishmael comes from, but that part of the plot was not very big.

While this was one of the more enjoyable stories in the series, the origin of the hole was a little bit… anti-climatic. Basically it was like this: “Hey, can you please not make the hole anymore?” ” Alright.” ” Thank you.” Wha-?? You mean, for all this hubbub and headache, we just briefly discover the origin AND resolve it in literally just a few paragraphs?? I mean, I’m not saying there needed to be explosions and gun fire or anything, but… I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of a confrontation between Ishmael and the creator of the hole! It was kind of, I don’t know, a big part of the plot!

With book # 6 down and book # 7 set in my TBR (To Be Read) sights, I gotta say, it’s getting kind of ridiculous how BAD Ishmael is at his job!! I mean, yeah, ok… TECHNICALLY he does get the bad guy in the end…. but only after EVERYONE is already DEAD!! His job is normally to keep everyone ALIVE… and he is a huge fail whale at that!! Book after book, the only people left alive is Penny and Ishmael! It would be nice if just ONCE he would actually SAVE someone. Seriously… I could find the killer and solve the crime, too, if everyone is locked in one location and everyone but me and the killer is dead. -.- It’s like, why do you keep getting the job again?! How bad are all the other agents if Ishmael is the best choice??? :O

Murder in the Dark felt more original, and was entertaining. It was nice to see the author make a few much needed changes to this series. There were still a few of the old problems cropping up here and there. Honestly, if some of the sitting around was cut out, it would have been a better book. A little disappointing at the predictible killer and anti-climatic conversation with the creator of the hole. Still, with the few problems it had, it was one of the better books out of the Ishmael Jones Mystery series.

* Basically Murder in the Dark was a 3.5 rating but I rounded up to a low 4.

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