DARK EYE by William Bernhardt
Bill Bernhardt’s series about Ben Kincaid, for all their twists and turns, are a walk in the park compared to Dark Eye and the broken heroine readers find in these pages. Susan Pulaski isn’t a hero I could admire, which is unusual for a Bernhardt book, and I never did warm up to her. Watching her was like watching a train wreck in slow motion because she kept sabotaging herself.
The suspense story is a stretch that posits it into the stratosphere of a thriller novel and has a villain straight out of a Universal Monsters horror film. I’m sure the author wanted to stretch when he did this one, visit less than savory places that exist out in the darkness (you only have to peruse the news media to find worse excesses in real life), and probably step outside of Kincaid’s relatively safe world.
The relationship Pulaski forges with the young autistic guy Darcy O’Bannon felt slightly off to me. He’s kind of played up as a possible romance interest, but I don’t see any way that’s going to work. Still, he’s one of those characters that is interesting to watch.
Las Vegas is presented very well in the book. I felt it come to life around me on several occasions even though I’ve never been there. Comes from my familiarity with the CSI television show set in Vegas, as well as several movies with Vegas in the background I suppose.
The Edgar Allan Poe angle was pretty well done as far as puzzles go. The writer still offers a lot of morbid curiosity for writers and readers.
The book kept me reading, though, turning pages well after I knew I should have gone to sleep. Bernhardt is good at ratcheting up the suspense and involving the reader in the question of “what’s going to happen next?” But I missed that celebratory moment with the good guy, with knowing that everything had been returned to normal, because I know Susan Pulaski is nowhere near ready for a return to a good life. She still has problems and I’m not seeing that changing for her.
There is a sequel, but I’m willing to let that one sit for a while before I get to it. I like dark books, but generally those make the hero shine a little more.