That Darkness – Lisa Black [Review]

That Darkness is the first book in the Gardiner and Renner series, written by Lisa Black.

This forensics/mystery story was published on April 26, 2016 by Kensington.


That Darkness by Lisa BlackBlurb for


As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine.

Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.

Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil …




Jen’s Review of THAT DARKNESS

I read That Darkness because I received an ARC of the next book in the series, Unpunished. I wanted to start at the beginning of the series, so I checked out the first book from the local library.

Quick Review: Although I had to slog through parts of the book, I enjoyed it overall. If you like forensics or a moral dilemma about vigilantism, you should try That Darkness.

My Thoughts…

The beginning of the book didn’t capture my interest until the ninth page. I was surprised to find out that the first point-of-view was that of a vigilante killer, Jack. He’s a homicide detective who has decided to take the law into his own hands. Once I knew this, I became more interested in what was going on in the book.

Unfortunately, though, when it switched to the perspective of Maggie, the fingerprint tech, my attention was lost, because the story lags with lots of backstory and exposition about what kind of person she is.

In the fourth chapter, I got confused because I couldn’t tell whose point-of-view the story was being told from. At first, I thought it was Patty’s POV, but then some things made me think it was still Maggie’s POV. What saved this chapter from being terrible was that Maggie meets Jack, which advances the plot.

The book picks up pace about a fourth of the way in. It gets better as it goes on. However, sometimes the author went into too much technical detail about what Maggie did as a forensics tech. It made me want to skim over those parts and get back to what was going on with Jack.

I never connected with Maggie’s character. In my opinion, she was boring. Jack, on the other hand, kept me glued to the pages. The author did a great job getting into his mind. His reasoning and actions, while he tried to avoid getting caught, fascinated me. I think that’s the main reason I kept reading this book. That and the plot involving the human trafficking ring and the subplot about Maria Stein. Also, I liked the twist the author added in the middle of the book.


Do I Recommend?

I think some people will like this book, while others will not. If you want a mystery to figure out or an emotional connection with characters, then I would say to skip this. On the other hand, if you like forensics, you will probably enjoy the details Lisa Black put into That Darkness. Also, you would probably like this book if you are interested in the moral question about when it is right to take the law into your own hands.

Overall, I liked That Darkness. My main concern for the series is the lack of character development for Maggie. I hope she becomes someone I can connect with. Right now, she barely seems human, because she’s all about her job. As soon as I get around to reading more books in the series, I’ll let you know if she grows as a character.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars (B)

Have you read any books by Lisa Black? What did you think?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


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About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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