Ridiculous plot & part of a series
A serial killer is on the loose, with the eight victims seemingly picked at random. As time runs out who will be the next victim and can the killer be stopped?
I was really irritated with Spiral into Darkness as nowhere on its NetGalley, Amazon or Goodreads page does it mention that this is part of a series and you really need a lot of context to understand the truly weird dynamics of the many characters in this book.
The story itself starts well - a police chief is called to join a large, specialist taskforce with the FBI to help catch a serial killer who has taken 8 lives so far. They begin profiling and investigating and that started to draw me into the story. At this point you know something bad has happened the previous summer but I assumed it was character backstory that you'd find out as you went along.
Then at around 20% the book takes a sharp left turn and drops the investigation and police storyline to focus on 6 brothers and their daily lives. As far as I can gather these 6 brothers are central characters in the other books, kidnapped as part of a child sex ring and are now all adopted into the same family. The family dynamics are weird and uncomfortable; the teenagers seem far too overly familiar with each other and two of the adopted brothers are having an intimate relationship (which is often graphically described). This relationship is no secret - the entire family know about it including the parents (one of the boys is their biological son) and all they do is just reassure them that they are definitely not gay. It also really doesn't help that the kids all have really similar names for some reason - Brian, Billy, Bobby, Brett and Brad which made it really difficult for me to work out who was who.
Inexplicably the boys are drafted in to help the police and FBI team with their investigation. They make them walk the crime scene with the body still present, where they give basic information that surely trained and experienced police officers should already know. They then are given a victim's book of poetry to analyse as if it was an English Lit project - the whole prospect is just bizarre. This is all interspersed with the underage sex scenes, overly repetitive family arguments and far too much description of everyday events (why should I care what brand of running shoe and sock every boy buys at the store when it has no relevance to the story?)
There are also far too many characters; the 6 brothers, their parents, all their friends, the 5/6 core members of the police team, their families and the killer themselves. I was desperate to DNF this book, particularly when I discovered it was part of a series but I persevered. I needn't have bothered really - as there were so many characters, none of which got much 'screen-time', the final reveal wasn't shocking or surprising at all - just 'oh, that person, I've heard their name mentioned before'. The final show-down had some ridiculous decisions, unrealistic events and even a bit of the paranormal thrown in - it was all a bit ridiculous.
Overall if you've read the rest of the series perhaps you are used to the overload of characters, the uncomfortable family dynamics and the repetition of everyday events instead of a focus on the action. For a new reader however, Spiral into Darkness simply wasn't for me. Thanks to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for a copy of the ARC in exchange for a (very) honest review.