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Friday, November 17, 2017

REVIEW: Darkness at the Edge of Town by Jennifer Harlow @randomhouse @jenharlowbooks @netgalley

Darkness at the Edge of Town
(Iris Ballard #2)
by Jennifer Harlow
Random House - Alibi

Big thank you to Random House and Netgalley for this copy!  Continue down for my review, about the author and the blurb for the first book in this series, Beautiful Maids All in a Row.

A complicated, charismatic forensic psychologist tries to rescue her brother from the clutches of a maniacal cult leader in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the author of Beautiful Maids All in a Row.
After catching an infamous serial killer, Dr. Iris Ballard has become a TV sensation. Exhausted from her appearances on the talk-show circuit, she’s looking forward to some quality time with Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and on-again, off-again lover. The last thing Iris wants is to get pulled back to her dying Rust Belt hometown, but after the frantic call from her mother, she doesn’t have a choice.
Iris is a disgrace in Grey Mills, Pennsylvania, but her twin brother has gone and outdone her. Billy has abandoned his fiancée, drained their checking account, and quit his job to join a cult called the New Morning Movement. Expecting to find something sinister at play, Iris is eager to destroy the quixotic hold they have on her brother. And that means outwitting the cult’s cunning, sadistic founder, Mathias Morning.
Iris has logic and reason on her side. But Mathias doesn’t play by society’s rules. Just as Iris begins to lose hope, her investigation leads her to cross path with the DEA. And now she needs to save Billy’s life before they’re both caught in the crossfire.

My Review:

Iris Ballard has been through the ringer!  After two years where she let alcoholism and pill popping take over her life, she's clean again, famous for taking down yet another serial killer and is unsure how to deal with her mini-stardom. One call about her brother, Billy, possibly being involved in a cult has her going to back to the one place she's been trying to avoid.... home.

I absolutely love Iris's character.  She's dealt with so many issues in her personal and professional life and yet somehow comes up on top.  A flawed human that might not always deal with some of the hard knocks that come her way, she still pulls herself together and finds that extra oomph to continue forward.  She's certainly not one to keep her mouth shut and blows her stack a few times at her mother and their tumultuous relationship.  Remember all those times you bit you tongue so as not to say something you'll regret to a family member?  Well Iris has had enough and tongue biting is no longer in her repertoire. 

This reads fast and while it's the second book in the series (I also LOVED Beautiful Maids All in a Row), it does read well as a stand alone.  The interactions between the characters were fun - especially between Iris and her Grandparents.  The ONLY thing, if I'm being nit picky is some of her dialogue with Luke got a little annoying with all the uhs.. and ums... and ... I get it, it's awkward between them, but it almost felt more awkward to read.  And there were moments of monologuing that I felt was unnecessary or could've been written more fluently or the same word was used repeatedly.  

I love anything remotely cultish so it was fun to see Harlow's take on this type of story line.  I will absolutely continue with this series and can't wait to see what else Iris gets herself into.

★★★ 1/2

Check out the first book in this series:

Dr. Iris Ballard’s glory days are behind her, so when Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and onetime lover, asks for help constructing a psychological profile of an elusive serial killer who murders single mothers and dumps their bodies in the woods, Iris turns him away. She just wants to be left alone with her infomercials, her German Shepherd, and her vodka. That is, until she gets a peek at the case files.

The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.

The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.

About the Author:

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virgina home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. 

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