THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.
THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.
THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.
One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.
In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:
Make Them Stop.
What happens next?
Fiona Cummins’ Into the Dark is a fast-paced, high-stakes psychological thriller centred around the disappearance of a family. The state of the house suggests that the family did not plan to leave, and that perhaps they did not leave of their own choice. What ensues is a unexpected series of twists as we learn the truth of what happened to the Holden family.
Stylistically, Into the Dark moves between the past and the present — in the past storyline, we come to understand bits and pieces that explain what the Holden family were going through in the days preceding their disappearance. In the present storyline, we come to understand the role that Julieanne plays in this mystery and how she feels about the Holden’s disappearance.
“None of the teachers ever pressed Emelie into taking their subjects because of her natural talent. She was proud of her friend but sometimes it was a little exhausting to bear witness to Riva’s continued brilliance.”
Whilst the book is populated with rather unlikeable characters, Fiona crafts a compelling psychological thriller. The history of the friendship between Julieanne and Piper evolves over the course of the novel — they bonded over motherhood and parenting, but over time we realise how interconnected their lives now are. What is Julieanne willing to do for Piper, and what is Piper prepared to do for herself?
Into the Dark will please fans of psychological thrillers — Fiona maintains consistent pacing and high stakes throughout the novel, keeping readers engaged. Fiona offers surprises and twists with each passing chapter, turning the initial premise on its head and ensuring readers stay absorbed throughout the novel.
“The most pressing question is not the origin of the blood used in that message — she smiled at hime and he was lost — but finding the person who wrote it.”
Into the Dark illustrates quite an unconventional relationship between Julieanne and Piper — a toxic, co-dependent friendship that holds disastrous consequences for all. Whilst the ending of the novel does feel rather farfetched and unbelievable, it still provides entertainment for the reader. I did feel like the detectives in the novel weren’t overly present – their investigation feels like it holds slim presence in the book.
There is a sub-plot that follows Julieanne and Piper’s daughters, as they navigate their friendship at school and how those events intertwine with the disappearance of the Holden family. I did find this particular sub-plot less engaging that Julieanne and Piper’s storyline, although it does serve as a bit of a red herring as we start to piece together the truth behind the mystery.
“DC Williams fired off many questions. What was Piper’s usual routine? What about the rest of the family? How long had they lived here? Did they have other properties elsewhere? What about extended family?”
Punchy and pacy, Into the Dark is recommended for readers of crime, thriller and mysteries. Readership skews 25+
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Into the Dark
Pan Macmillan Publishers Australia