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In the Darkness


In the Darkness

For the CEO of an internet gaming company and a game developer, Mike Omer sure knows his stuff when it comes to criminal detection and profiling. He also knows his way around serial killers and other “bad guys,” which makes me wonder what his hobbies are. All kidding aside, IN THE DARKNESS, the second book to feature FBI forensic psychologist Zoe Bentley, is a winner and shows the maturity seen only in veteran authors writing in this genre.

In the first installment of the series, A KILLER'S MIND, the case was incredibly personal to Zoe. In fact, the killer ended up being Rod Glover, the creepy guy who has been tormenting her since childhood. She and her sister, Andrea, barely escaped with their lives. The problem is that their lifelong adversary is still out there. IN THE DARKNESS reopens the Glover case, but it is not the primary focus for Zoe. She and her partner, Special Agent Tatum Gray, are sent to Texas to assist in the apprehension of a serial killer who has been kidnapping women and burying them alive.

"IN THE a winner and shows the maturity seen only in veteran authors writing in this genre.... Omer does an above-average job of kicking up the suspense meter just enough to keep readers unsure as to whether or not Zoe will be saved."

Meanwhile, Andrea is adamant that she has seen Glover sneaking around and is convinced that he is after her once again. Zoe is torn as she is occupied with her Texas case, while her non-law enforcement sister is left alone to possibly face off against a killer. Were it not for visits from Tatum's grandfather, Marvin, Andrea would have no one looking out for her locally. Omer does an admirable job keeping both plotlines going simultaneously, and brings readers directly inside Zoe's mind and the frustration she feels about not being able to be in two places at once.

The press has dubbed the Texas serial killer “Schrodinger's Killer,” named after the “thought experiment” that proposed that a hypothetical cat could exist as both alive and dead in a sort of superposition. This alludes to the fact that a person buried alive can be in a state of being both alive and dead simultaneously. Zoe and Tatum don't care much for this allegory; they just want to stop the killer from taking another innocent life. Even with their involvement, they are too late to save the most recent victim. The killer also mocks law enforcement with live videos of his victims while they are buried in their coffins, daring them to find the location in enough time to save these poor souls.

As it becomes evident that the killer has been doing this for a while, the time comes for Zoe and Tatum to use their profiling skills and try to figure out the type of person who would be capable of committing these murders. They also have their antennas up around the “good Samaritans” who continue to bring information to the police. This is often a tactic used by serial killers as a way of hiding in plain sight, while also allowing them the opportunity to see what the good guys know and how close they may be to finding vital clues.

Omer provides a few flashback chapters that begin 20 years in the past where we see the form of arrested development involved in creating a future serial killer. In this case, we meet an abused young man who becomes obsessed with people being trapped by the darkness. As his mind goes spinning through these moods, his thoughts inform him that in the darkness, the monsters come.

Just at the point when the team locates another victim, a local woman, their biggest fears come to life. Zoe is caught with her guard down when she is supposed to be heading back to Virginia to see her sister. She is drugged and buried alive by the killer. Now, knowing that time is of the essence, Tatum and the local P.D. must work against the clock to find the thread that connects the victims and might lead them to Zoe's location.

Omer does an above-average job of kicking up the suspense meter just enough to keep readers unsure as to whether or not Zoe will be saved. Far be it from me to spoil that outcome. All I can do is encourage you to give this author and his series a look. In my opinion, he is following the track of other great profiler vs. serial killer series, such as the great Instinct novels penned by Robert W. Walker. I look forward to seeing what new dark ideas Omer has in store for us next.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 3, 2019

In the Darkness
by Mike Omer