Book Review: Rachel Lynch – Dark Game (DI Kelly Hunter book 1)

I’ve been looking for a book series – thriller or detective – to get my teeth into for quite some time, and I came across Rachel Lynch’s name while looking through the 3 for £5 section on The Works website. I was searching for something to ask for for Christmas as, no, money wasn’t an option. As it goes, the £1.67 equivalent my parents spent on this one – the first in a (as of now) eight book series – was very good value.

‘Dark Game’ opens with the protagonist, Detective Inspector Kelly Porter, waking up in the bed of man called Johnny who she only met the night before. She recently moved back to the Cumbria police force after an embarrassing incident in London left her reputation in tatters, and so she decided to return home and live with her mother and her sister, whom she despises. The backdrop of a strained family situation adds an extra depth to Kelly’s character which I’m excited to see being explored in future books.

The plot is complicated, and I’m not too certain even at the end how everyone’s roles exactly worked. But the writing is fast-paced and darkly amusing (at times), the characterisation is brilliant and I love how dark the story is, as well as how Lynch doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of some of the scenes. I’ll forgive for now how convenient some of the plot points were, along with the way that everyone knew her dad and wants to help… although I’ll have to see if that carries on before making a judgement about it. It definitely shouldn’t damage the way you look at the story because it is explained and Kelly Porter is already, one book in, growing into a formidable character that I will remember for a long, long time.

I liked the way she didn’t hesitate to change the perspective of a chapter if it helps the story move along. It’s a device which, if done well, helps to build the tension to a tumultuous climax, and it worked. The final 30 pages, anything could have happened. A minor note is that the editor at Canelo did a far better job at spellchecking this book than another which I am currently reading from the same publishing house…

This is a brilliant book and if you haven’t heard of the author, you’d better! Her novels have been compared to the television series Vera, however I would say that that is down to the stereotype of the northern backdrop. If you want a modern twist on an old-fashioned English detective novel, ‘Dark Game’ is for you. I can’t wait to greedily eat up the next one, ‘Deep Fear’.

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