Simon Toyne burst onto the literary landscape with his unique Sanctus trilogy – a DaVinci Code style narrative with deeper characterization and superlative narrative skills. Toyne followed this with a minor pivot when he released his Solomon Creed duology (The Searcher and The Boy Who Saw), once again centering his storyline on religious exploration, only this time straying ever-so-slightly into the supernatural realm. Now Simon Toyne returns in another new incarnation – this time with Dark Objects, a masterful blend of thriller, suspense, and police procedural.
As with the earlier books, Dark Objects unspools via an intricate quilt of multiple points of view, shorter chapters that help elevate the pacing to breakneck speed, and a genuine understanding of the human heart (foibles and all.)
Dark Objects begins with the discovery of a woman’s body her posh mansion located in a high-rent suburb of London. With no evidence of a break-in and the elaborate alarm system un-tripped, the police are baffled. Their confusion only grows when they discover a series of odd objects that have been carefully placed around the body – including a pair of medals, a stuffed toy, a set of keys, and a book about processing murder scenes. This oddness is only compounded when they find that the couple residing in the house seem to be living under aliases, with no digital fingerprint or traceable history.
It is the presence of that forensics book that brings its author, Laughton Rees, into the sphere of this investigation. Laughton has an estranged relationship with her father – the current police commissioner – whom she blames for failing to convict the monster who murdered her mother years earlier. Currently going through a rough patch with her own daughter, the last thing Laughton wants or needs is to get involved in this complex case – and yet, it seems as though the perpetrator is purposefully calling out to her with the symbolic placement of her non-fiction work at the crime scene. How can she not take a stab at catching him?
With a tabloid reporter receiving tips from some unknown source, gossip in the neighborhood spreading like wildfire, the city already in upheaval over the increase in knife violence, and an important upcoming election, everyone wants this case solved quickly. However, as more bodies begin to appear, this criminal is clearly hellbent on being heard. But what exactly is the message?
Officer Tannahill Khan leads the investigation and readers will be thrilled to make his acquaintance. Simon Toyne wisely allows moments of microaggression against this Pakistani/Irish man to build a bridge between reader and character from the start. And once Tannahill meets Laughton Rees, the chemistry is undeniably off-the-charts. It is impossible not to root for this duo to solve this crime – hopefully without any more casualties.
Simon Toyne has constructed this narrative in such a way as to draw the reader in to the various threads, all the while slowly entangling them – both within the fictional investigation, but also around the reader’s throat. The pacing almost demands Dark Objects be read in as few sittings as possible. And the solution – which is both shocking and somehow inevitable – ensures that readers will return for the next in what appears to be a wholly-original new series from a storyteller fully in control of his craft.
BUY LINKS: Dark Objects by Simon Toyne
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.