Review: The Woman In Darkness by Charlie Donlea


Title: The Woman in Darkness {Rory Moore/Lane Phillips #1}

Author: Charlie Donlea

Published: April 2nd 2019, Bantam

Status: Read April 2019- Courtesy PenguinRandomHouse



My Thoughts:

In 1979, a serial killer was arrested, but jailed for only a single murder – that of Angela Mitchell whose body was never found. Now, after forty years of incarceration, ‘The Thief’ is finally being recommended for parole.

In 2019, Rory Moore, a talented and dogged forensic crime reconstructionist, is forced to put her law degree to use when her father passes away, and she is required to represent his long time client at his parole hearing.

Rory is baffled by the forty year clandestine relationship between the alleged serial killer and her late father, and with the obsessiveness she is known for, begins to dig into the past, uncovering a stunning secret.

The novel unfolds over two timelines which largely follows Rory in the present, and Angela Mitchell in the past, offering the occasional brief chapter from other characters who are significant to the story including The Thief, Rory’s father, and her Aunt Greta.

Rory is an interesting character, it is her obsessive nature that contributes to her skill as a cold case reconstructionist, she immerses herself in the minutiae of a case, searching for patterns and overlooked details. Though she maintains an intimate relationship with her boyfriend Lane, and her Aunt Greta, she is essentially a loner, who avoids social interaction and has regular episodes of anxiety.

Rory is intrigued by the similarities between herself and Angela Mitchell. Angela too was a victim of anxiety and exhibited obsessive-compulsive behaviour. In 1979 the murders of five young women caught Angela’s attention and she secretly spent hours every day studying the details of the crimes, eventually finding a pattern that led to the identity of the killer. Fearful her psychiatric history would prevent the law from taking her seriously, she anonymously shared her theories with the police, and then disappeared. The police assumed she too had become a victim of ‘The Thief’, but Rory soon comes to believe otherwise.

It’s not so much the mystery that surrounds the identity of ‘The Thief’, or even Angela’s fate that is central to The Woman in Darkness, though the answers to both are compelling. Donlea’s focus is on the repercussions of the secrets revealed, especially for Rory. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and its dramatic revelations, and I thought the pacing was well measured.

I did think it was a shame that the case the Detective had brought to Rory at the beginning of the novel went no where, I would have liked to have seen how Rory worked a standard case as a forensic reconstructionist. Perhaps it’s something Donlea is planning to explore in a later book, Rory Moore has potential as a central character in a series, otherwise it was a needless distraction.

The Woman in Darkness is an engaging thriller with an appealing protagonist, this is Charlie Donlea’s third novel, though the first I have read.

Read an Excerpt



Available to Purchase via

Penguin AU I Booko I Book Depository

or your preferred retailer.

Published  in the US as Some Choose Darkness

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maureen Bakker
    May 03, 2019 @ 06:23:40

    This sounds like an interesting read. I haven’t been reading many thrillers lately. I’m glad you enjoyed this one!



  2. Mystica
    May 03, 2019 @ 22:11:55

    New author new book too for me. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person


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