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  • Mandy McHugh

Somewhere in the Dark, RJ Jacobs: A Review

I've been seeing this book making the rounds on Instagram, and with the delightfully dark cover and intriguing summary, I was thrilled to receive an eARC and quickly dove in.

After a childhood of brutal neglect, Jessie wants nothing more than to put her past behind her; she paid the price for stalking a famous country couple on tour. She has a stable job she likes, a small apartment, and a social worker who genuinely seems to care about her (and brings her pop tarts sometimes, which is nice). When a catering job puts her in direct connection to the murder of the famous country star she's not supposed to be anywhere near, Jessie needs to find a way to prove her innocence--and her sanity--before it's too late. So, I loved this book, and there are a lot of things done well in terms of structure and narrative style, but what I really want to talk about is Jessie's character, because the book hinges on her voice. From her point of view, we get inside her mind as she copes with the horrible traumas of her childhood and see how they impact every move she makes on a daily basis. The fear of another person touching her was palpable, but not exploitative. I didn't feel like this was someone guessing at what it would be like to suffer from the severity of neglect, but rather an insightful, complex examination of the psychological ramifications of neglect. Through the sole perspective, we are isolated from other characters in much the same way Jessie found herself, and simple, overlooked possessions, such as a discman, became that much more significant. Additionally, and without giving too much away, the unraveling of the plot was well executed and believable. I appreciated the structure, the succinct chapters, and Jessie's interactions with supporting characters to propel the plot's mystery. I also loved how Nashville culture was highlighted, and found myself enjoying little cultural tidbits (lanterns and population and weather--as a lifelong upstate NY native, I'm always curious about the minute details of a place that really breathe life into the setting, and Jacobs did a wonderful job). Overall, Somewhere in the Dark is a propulsive, guttural, striking read that will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page. Big thanks to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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