A perfective serviceable debut novel
Given this is a debut novel, Terri Parlato’s All The Dark Places is a decent little thriller. All the usual hallmarks of the genre are in place, complete with a list of suspects whittled down over time, a self-doubting protagonist who’s also a victim, and a gruff detective desperate to get to the bottom of the case, but it’s enough of a page-turner to stick with until the end.
The book seesaws between two different character perspectives, Molly and Rita. After a party, Molly awakens to find her husband has been murdered and the suspects are likely to be one of half a dozen friends over for a party that night. Haunted by ghosts of the past and a potential killer that has his (or her!) sights set on Molly next, she tries to find salvation and comfort in her friends. But can she really trust them?
Speaking of trust, Boston PD have their hands full with this one. So who better to take the case on than veteran officer Rita? But is this one case too many and way too complicated to resolve?
The framework of the book actually works quite well, with short, snappy chapters that you can easily get through in about 5 minutes or less. This helps to keep things suitably pacey, although personally it would have been nice to see a few longer chapters – especially in the middle of the book – to really stew over the list of possible suspects.
Of course, I’m not going to reveal who that is but this reviewer guessed the killer incorrectly, which is always a bonus with a book like this! The actual reveal and reasoning around what happened is serviceable enough and the motivations make sense in the context of the story. It’s helped too by a decent final act that rackets up the tension and drama considerably.
You can tell that Terri Parlato has made sure to hit all the usual beats of the genre and while that’s great, on occasion this does make the book feel overly familiar, like a repetitive feeling of Deja vu as the book hits the beats you’d expect to find along the way with little in the way of real surprises.
The characters are pretty good though and Rita in particular has a couple of quirky stand-out segments, especially her old-school feel of writing on notebooks rather than phones and making sketches. These little additions give her some nuance and character, and it helps you really rally around her for the investigation.
All The Dark Places isn’t outstanding but it’s a perfectly serviceable thriller and a good way to spend a few days curled up on the sofa reading. It’s a decent debut for sure and hopefully Parlato can grow in confidence from this and deliver a second book that takes some intriguing turns. We’ll definitely be there to read it, that’s for sure!
Our thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the advanced reader’s copy! All The Dark Places will be published on 27th December 2022. You can pre-order the novel here!
Verdict - 6.5/10