Crime Fiction Books

Book Review – The Darkest Place – Jo Spain

The Darkest Place – Jo Spain

Published: 20 September 2018 by Quercus Books

Swathi’s Rating: 4.5/5

Verdict: A powerful, well researched mysterious plot.

I’ve read Jo Spain’s previous book The Confession, and loved the kind of mystery she writes. It’s dark, creepy, and has plenty of unexpected twists that could leave the readers with several sleepless nights. Also, It’s Irish! What a combination that brings out the perfect Crime Thriller. Here’s the plot for y’all. Cheers!


‘Island of the Lost was the isle’s name long before the hospital was built. In winter, they say the fog falls so heavy there that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Storms rage so forcefully you can be blown from the cliffs. Once St. Christina’s was built, the name took on a new meaning. Very few who went into that place ever left.’

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island.

Author Bio:

Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession is her first standalone thriller.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.

Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.

Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Swathi’s Review:

This book is a sequel to Inspector Tom Reynolds, but it only takes less than 5 chapters to understand the characters and read it as a standalone Thriller. Those of you who hadn’t read the previous books in the series, Inspector Tom Reynolds in his late 50s is a brilliant detective working with his team Ray and Laura who recently became a couple. Tom is ushered on the Christmas eve to the Island where a dead doctor’s remains has just been found after 40 years. The readers are slowly teleported to the lonely beautiful Island, that once hosted the strange Mental Asylum, it’s inhabitants, and the terrifying graveyard that is located at a window’s view from the hospital.

Soon we’re exposed to diary entries written by someone from the past and dates back to when the hospital was in its full swing. The entries begin as happy notes written by a Doctor who is thrilled to work in a renown Psychiatric Institute, and slowly express fear, curiosity, anger, agony, and depression. The life of the Hospital’s then inhabitants are expressed as diary entries, and they’re horrific to imagine! The author has done her homework in the areas surrounding Mental health and Institutions. Ireland is one of the world nations that has the largest number of Psychiatric Hospitals and Provision centers. There is a fine line that links the true stories with a Thriller Fiction, and Jo Spain does it with ease!

The story develops into a detective plot, where Tom and his team start to interview and investigate the Island and its residents. A 40 year old past is hard to dig, when the possible suspects are most likely dead! It’s the same reason why the plot gets so intriguing and un-put-down-able. Handling a sensitive subject of Mental Health and Illness, the horrific treatments and procedures, and writing it in the most presentable manner is the toughest of things. It needs experience and expertise, and that’s exactly where Jo Spain stands unique. Not a single instance made me cringe, even though I could perfectly picture the torturous experiences of the poor patients.

The climax is something applaudable, and completely unexpected. Reading Crime Thrillers continuously will only make you a bored reader, as you can probably guess every story you read. But this is different. I was completely blinded by the twists and did not see it coming until the very last chapters. I strongly recommend this FANTASTIC Thriller to my fellow Crime Lovers. It could be a binge read, depending on the how tough the readers are. To me, I am curious and desperate and cannot sleep without knowing what happened next!

Thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy of this book. All opinions are honest and they are my own.

Until Next Time! XOXO!




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