Review - The Darker Side by Cody Mcfadyen

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Darker Side
Author: Cody Mcfadyen
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 30, 2008)
A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire—everyone has secrets they take to the grave. No one knew that better than FBI special agent Smoky Barrett. But what secret was a very private young woman keeping that led to her very public murder? And what kind of killer was so driven and so brazenly daring that he’d take her life on a commercial airliner thirty thousand feet in midair, a killer so accomplished that he’d leave only a small souvenir behind?

These are the questions that bring Smoky and her hand-picked team of experienced manhunters from L.A. to the autumn chill of Washington, D.C., by order of the FBI director himself—and at the special request of a high-powered grieving D.C. mother.

As a mother, Smoky knows the pain of losing a child—it nearly killed her once before. As a cop with her own twisted past, she takes every murder personally, which is both her greatest strength and her only weakness. Brilliant, merciless, righteous, the killer Smoky is hunting this time is on his own personal mission, whose cost in innocent human lives he’s only begun to collect. For in his eyes no one is innocent; everyone harbors a secret sin, including Smoky Barrett.

Soon Smoky will have to face what she’s so carefully hidden even from her own team—and confront a flawless killer who knows her flaws with murderous intimacy.


I'll begin by saying this is the first Cody Mcfadyen book I've read. Those who've read him before can well  imagine what emotional upheaval I underwent I read this shocking story. I've been reading mystery, thriller and suspense stories for quite a few years now and used to considere myself pretty much jaded with the whole scary aspect of it. Having read this book, I find that I can't say that anymore. This is by far one of the most scary books I've read in a long, long time. That said, this book is not for the faint of hearts.

This is not just the story of some sicko serial killer. Pardon the awful pun, but that's been done to death in countless books. It's more the in-depth psychological aspect of it in tandem with a slick plot development and deeply flawed characters, that's the most terrifying aspect of this novel.

Central character and FBI agent, Smoky Barrett is scarred on the outside as well as inside. Her leadership skills are evident as is the way she's coping with her fractured life. Reading about her violent past and her present-day internal struggles made me feel like I was physically there, intruding upon something very private, very personal. In fact it got to a stage that, having read the dreadful things that had happened to this woman (and there's a lot there), I began to dread what awful thing would happen to her next in the pages of this novel. And it left me feeling just about wrung out emotionally.

The part of the book that I felt was the scariest and yet the most true was the central question raised by the villain - what secret are you hiding? Each of us has secrets - those we're willing to share and those that we take to the grave. It's that second part that's the most scary. The things that people are capable of carrying within themselves. And yet, we all have it. Asking this question of ourselves, and then seeing how the characters on the page react to it, gives it a surreal feeling.


But there are some things that just didn't gel with me. Seeing as how this is the first Smoky Barret story read (this is the third book in a series, btw), I wasn't exactly enamored of the "clicks", the jumps of intuition that seem to have become a personality trait of this character and that are somehow always accurate. I've always felt that to be a very "gimmicky" sort of thing to do and I generally don't like it, particularly when there's a mystery to be solved.

The novel wasn't as much a mystery as a case of "catch me if/when you can". The villain's always one step ahead and leaves clues to help Smoky and her team. As much as I see it, they only follow where the villain leads. That didn't leave a lot of detecting to do. Don't get me wrong - what they did was competent enough. Just not enough to satisfy my gumshoe urges.

In Short

Mcfadyen's writing is super-slick, and his characterizations are just too good. I just wish the detecting part of it had been equally good. Still, this is a novel that shook me up and that's saying something. In fact, I'm still conflicted about reading past and future books in this series.


This book was received for review as part of a virtual blog tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book's Promotion.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Read an Excerpt - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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5 People said

  1. Thank you so much for the review, Rashmi! Cody is on a virtual book tour and if you'd like to find out more about his book, visit his stop tomorrow at Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?!

  2. Thanks for the review. Sounds like something you don't read at night before bedtime.


  3. Hi books really give me the cree - but I love them!

  4. My pleasure, Dorothy, as always.

    Cheryl - you're SO right.

    Tracee - I know what you mean.

  5. When you get the chance please stop by my blog and read the post for I love your blog award :-) I left something for you heehee.



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