Lisa Unger, “Darkness, My Old Friend.” Crown. $24.00. 368 pages.
Lisa Unger’s latest novel takes us back to The Hollows, an ordinary yet somewhat eerie suburb of New York City first probed in Ms. Unger’s “Fragile” (2010, now in paperback). Familiar to readers of “Fragile” will be Jones Cooper and his wife Dr. Maggie Cooper, a psychologist. Jones is a retired police officer who has been staying around the house and doing odd jobs for neighbors. “Fragile” records the unfortunate events that led to his retirement, which has left Jones somewhat unsettled. Though he had no plans to become a private detective, people are coming his way with problems that lure him in that direction.
The other characters in “Darkness, My Old Friend” are new. Bethany Graves has only recently moved to the Hollows after a somewhat bitter divorce. She has left the city to protect her daughter, Willow, from its evils. But teenagers always find trouble, and Willow is a classic example of a young girl filled with resentment and overcompensating for low self-esteem. She is uncooperative at school, skips classes, and has one good friend, Jolie, who is even more of a trouble-maker. Both are drawn to darkness and danger. Together, they witness mysterious and suspicious behavior in the heavily wooded area that borders one of the town’s older neighborhoods. Someone seems to be digging something up – or trying to. Bethany is near her wit’s end in dealing with Willow, who has become Maggie Cooper’s patient.
Eloise Montgomery, a psychic (for lack of a better term), has been feeling the presence of danger involving townspeople past and present. There seems to be some connection between the digging, Eloise’s intuitions, and the long-ago disappearance of Marla Holt – a gorgeous young woman who was thought to have simply left The Hollows and her family to escape her life’s tedium. Her son Michael has recently returned to the family’s home after the death of his father, Mack. Michael, who is the person the teens found digging, has unfinished business. He engages Eloise and PI Ray Muldune to find out what happened to his mother.
Another failing marriage involves Paula and Kevin Carr. Kevin has been a controlling, abusive husband whom Paula fears. She has agreed to add to their household young Cole, Kevin’s son by his first wife, Robin. Kevin claims that Robin is unable to raise Cole properly. Paula soon learns that Robin is missing, and she engages Jones Cooper to find him. Meanwhile, Cole attracts both Willow and Jolie, becoming part of a rather unhealthy teen triangle. Before long, Paula is missing as well and Jones sets out to find her. . . .
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the September 7, 2011 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly and in the September 8 issue of the Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Lisa Unger (2). For pdf versions, see Darkness pdf – 1 and Darkness pdf – 2
Posted by: Philip K. Jason on June 5, 2008