Author: Megan Goldin
Publisher: Michael Joseph
The podcast-focused novel is emerging as a new subspecies of the crime thriller genre, and Dark Corners is one of the latest examples.
It’s the second in Goldin’s series featuring true-crime podcaster Rachel Krall as the main protagonist, and here Krall does battle with the dark world of serial killers and social media influencers.
But, despite the novel’s fast pace and focus on topical issues, I found it difficult to engage with Krall’s story. The book, dense with explanations about social media influence, reads like a manual for the uninitiated. Some examples: “‘… you need to have lots of followers on social media to be taken seriously by other influencers’”; “‘Microinfluencers are influencers with a small but very specialized following’”; and “‘A wellbeing influencer … makes social media content about how to stay healthy.’”
If you’re just looking for a page turner, as was Night Swim, the first book in the series, you’ll find this a good read. The FBI invites Krall to meet with suspected serial killer. Given insufficient evidence, the police are about to release him from prison. The last woman to visit him, a social media influencer, has disappeared. Searching for answers, Krall goes undercover and attend a conference for influencers, where she experiences the extremes to which the competition for followers can take you.
But as a reader I like to feel engaged with the lead protagonist, either through identification, sympathy or dislike, and Krall’s character summoned none of those responses. Lacking in emotional depth, and too perfect physically to be credible, she comes across as a mere a vehicle: an illustration of just how dangerous the internet can be.
Other novels in this genre have come off better by creating a character-driven plots. The recently reviewed None of This is True is one such example. And I can’t help but recall Dark Corners (2015) by the late Ruth Rendell, where the author begins her book by revealing the plot and the perpetrator, and devotes the rest of the tale to plumbing his psychological depths.