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  • Mandy McHugh

Deep into the Dark, PJ Tracy: A Review

4.5 Stars Oh, how I love Minotaur. This cover and title caught my eye, and I was thrilled to be approved for this title.

Sam, a veteran suffering from PTSD and possible hallucinations, and Melody, a former drug addict/rock star, are co-workers who are brought together by a series of unsettling developments. A serial killer is on the loose, and when both are connected to the victims, they have to find a way to not only prove their innocence, but also avoid a dangerous, psychopathic stalker. There are subplots and layers--military conspiracy, detectives working homicide, a movie director--I didn't cover in my summary, but this is the main story that carries the rest. And for the most part, I really enjoyed this read. I won't lie: it took me a bit to really bite into the first few chapters. I found the language to be pretentious and a overly condescending. It reminded me of Prodigal Son (which I found to be a hit dramatic and whiny for my personal taste). But I liked the serial killer focus, and pushed through. After that, there was a real groove, and I devoured the rest of the book in a single sitting. Sam is a wonderful character; he steals the show, in my opinion. His voice is authentic and powerful, his back story is compelling, and he's got a great rapport with Melody. What brings him to the next level, however, is the examination of veteran support, PTSD, and mental illness. Sometimes in thrillers, the audience is set up to assume the worst of anyone suffering from a mental illness. It's something to be ashamed of, an automatic indicator of guilt, or a source of discrediting. Here, though, Sam's PTSD is presented as not only an important part of his character, but also a progressive fact. His family, friends, and co-workers know he has issues. He has a shrink who is supportive and open and recognizes crisis but doesn't associate it with guilt. The detectives aren't quick to blame him because of his stressors; instead, there is a distinction made between the two, a fact that raises an important awareness to how those who suffer from mental illness are treated. I loved the healthy dialogue surrounding his triggers and for that alone, I can't wait to read more of him. Additionally, the plot is structured well and flows. Never a dull moment, there's enough action to carry this from point a to point b without feeling melodramatic or forced. Overall, Deep into the Dark is an action-packed, energetic military-esque thriller that explores relevant issues with punches and heart. I think this will hit the sweet spot for many readers, and I'm putting this high on my list of books to read in 2021. Big thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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