Enter The Dark
An anonymous website, a few clicks, and Joe Henderson’s life is changed forever.
‘The Red Room’ is the only place where the inadequacies of a weak justice system are righted and where the line between good and evil becomes blurred. When the lights go up, viewers bid, criminals are punished, and the Brotherhood of the Righteous broadcasts a show like no other.
The room has remained hidden until now, when a video arrives in the inbox of the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit: the torture and killing of a notorious criminal. But outclassed, outplayed, and torn apart by corruption, is there anything Detective Pete Harris and his team can do except watch?
The deep web is made up of sites that cannot be indexed (i.e. they won’t be found by the likes of your Google search engine, which looks only at the relatively small “surface web”); these sites exist for all sorts of reasons, not necessarily nefarious ones. The dark web is deep, deep inside the deep web, and can be accessed only through Tor, which is an acronym for “The Onion Router”, so called because to get to private and anonymous areas of the web the Tor program has to work through many levels of encryption, layered like an onion. Even then, where you are heading might not be a hot bed of villainy and depravity. But the area of the dark web where Joe Henderson ends up – the Red Room – certainly is, although the people running the “show”, the Brotherhood of the Righteousness, and the people subscribing (handsomely) to watch it, justify what they do because only the bad guys get hurt and, well, they deserve to be.
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is not for the faint-hearted. There are a number of scenes describing brutality, and not always aimed at the bad guys. I can’t say I enjoyed reading those particular scenes, but they were certainly compelling and ran through my head in cinematic detail.
Although the vengeance theme is a well-trodden one in literature and films, it is deftly executed (pun intended) in this novel, with several story lines that converge at different points and are tied up at the end. I was confused by one thread, and couldn’t work it out even after going back over the story looking for where I might have missed a clue; other than that, it all fell neatly into place.
There is quite a large cast of characters, and I did get a little confused by them, especially near the beginning. Because of the array of people, I found it difficult to really get to the bottom of any of them. I liked feisty Daisy, and could empathise more with her than any of the others; Joe is a regular guy – a bit of a dope, not content with his lot and trying to get some kicks from venturing where he shouldn’t and then having to face the consequences; detective Pete Harris is nicer and less complicated than detectives in many novels (and thank goodness for that, says I). The other characters didn’t have much depth to them. I liked the ending – for a number of reasons, which I will keep to myself.
I think the manuscript could have done with another pass of editing before it was published: the multiple points of view and omniscient narrator resulted in some head hopping and I had to read back a couple of times to work out who was where and what they were talking about. There were a few inconsistencies, misspellings, odd phrasing and some unnecessary wordiness. The few bits of police procedural description didn’t ring quite true and I wonder how much research was done in this respect. I also couldn’t get a sense of place: the Metropolitan Police Force seemed to be running the investigation, but I got the impression that most of the action was taking place in or on the outskirts of a smallish town. None of this prevented me from enjoying the book, which, bearing in mind how picky and critical I am, indicates the entertainment value of the story.
With this novel behind him and with a little more editorial guidance, I think Chris Thomas’s next book could be a corker, and I look forward to reading it. (I reckon Chris's Google search history would be an interesting read, too.)
Editorial Input & Design
I thought the plotting was very good, but I would have suggested a few minor changes to direction of the reader. For example, I don’t think the last sentence of chapter 2 (“Little did he realise the path it would lead him down and how it would change his life forever.”) is needed – it is telling the reader upfront that Joe is going to make a bad decision and I would have preferred to find that out for myself at the appropriate time. And once it was all over, had it really changed him that much?
There is too much wordiness, e.g. “precise moment in time” should be edited to just the first two words. There are a few odd phrases, e.g. “The room began chattering amongst itself”, when the people in the room were chattering rather than the actual room. There is some incorrect spelling, e.g. “publically” instead of “publicly” and “figure” instead of “finger”. When Joe turns round, Billy “is no longer there”, but he later refers to Billy having “stormed” out.
The POVs need a little sorting, especially the head hopping.
I would have suggested writing in a few more descriptions of setting, and to making sure there was a proper sense of place – is it a city or is it a town?
Cover: I like it – relevant, interesting and fits the story.
Internal design: I read this on a Kindle and had no problems. Single quote marks were used inside single quote marks, whereas the internal ones should have been double.
Book Clubs & Reviews
I think there would be a lot to discuss about this book within a club, but I’d be hesitant to suggest it as a book club read because of the graphic descriptions of violence. But members of the book club I go to have often surprised me with their enthusiasm for books I have considered a bit close to the knuckle, and so someone braver than I am might want to put it forward as their choice.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 4.3 stars (4 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 4.29 stars (7 ratings).
Buy & Author
Published by Bloodhound Books
Amazon (Kindle £0.99/$1.26; paperback £8.62/$10.99)
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Disclosure: The publisher provided a mobi file for review on the Enter The Dark blog tour, 26 June–4 July 2017.
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