Monday, February 17, 2020

"The Dark Corners of the Night"

Meg Gardiner is the critically acclaimed author of the UNSUB series and China Lake, which won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original and was a finalist for NPR’s 100 Best Thrillers Ever. Stephen King has said of Meg Gardiner: “This woman is as good as Michael Connelly…her novels are, simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I’ve come across in the last twenty years.” Gardiner was also recently reelected President of the Mystery Writers of America for 2020.

The Dark Corners of the Night is the third novel in her Barry Award–winning UNSUB series, which received three starred reviews from the major trade publications and is soon to be a major television series.

Gardiner applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
My thriller The Dark Corners of the Night is the newest novel in the UNSUB series, and throws FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix into her most challenging case yet. A killer who calls himself the Midnight Man is wreaking havoc in Los Angeles, slaying parents and leaving children alive as witnesses. As his attacks escalate, the city is gripped with fear. Caitlin and her FBI team must stop him before he turns his wrath on survivors who could identify him.

On page 69, Caitlin and FBI technical analyst Nicholas Keyes take a late night visit to a crime scene—a suburban home where only a toddler was left alive. There, they try to understand the killer’s methods and psychology.
Keyes turned toward the front of the house. “I think he parked on the street, under the broken light.”

He towered over her in the dark, always an uncommon phenomenon, because Caitlin was five-ten and even taller in her Doc Marten’s.

“I do too,” she said. “He gains a sense of power by standing outside a home’s front door—the face it presents to the world—while the family inside is oblivious to the danger they’re in. He wants to savor the sight, and the sensation that he’s Destruction itself, about to descend. And to bask in the thought that once he breaks in, all that will be left is death and fear.”

He said nothing for a cold moment. “Deep,” he finally murmured. He pointed at the corner of the house. “The gate.”

“There’s no lock on it. No mention of one in the police report. The toddler’s too little to have reached the latch. This is a safe neighborhood. They didn’t lock it.”

“Safe neighborhood,” he said.

She couldn’t read his face. But his voice had an undertow.

She walked back across the patio. “He came in from the street. No lights on. No barking when he opened the gate. He prowled around back and saw a little kid’s toys. No dog bowls. No curtains on the kitchen window. This was where he staged.”

Keyes gazed at the sky. The half-moon going down. “He attacked at this time of night, but six weeks ago. The moon was waxing crescent. It had already set.”

“He calls himself the Midnight Man for a reason,” she said.
This is the tenth time I’ve put one of my novels to the test. So I really shouldn’t be surprised that Page 69 captures the plot, tone, and main characters of the novel. Because it does! The novel delves into both psychology and procedure. Much of it takes place deep in the night. The killer has spread a pall of dread over Southern California, and the heroes are desperate to stop him. Page 69 brings all that out. It also hits on a point that becomes increasingly important as the story develops: The killer attacks “safe” neighborhoods. Why? What is he trying to accomplish? How can Caitlin unwrap this M.O. and use it to identify him?

The Dark Corners of the Night is a high-stakes rollercoaster ride, and I can’t wait for you to read it.
Learn more about the book and author at Meg Gardiner's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: UNSUB.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Black Nowhere.

--Marshal Zeringue