Verdict: Chris Lindberg delivers an economically written, fast-paced thriller for those who enjoy a mix of both contemporary, headline-pulled settings and fantastical elements. Plus, it's got a pretty good twist.
The border between Mexico and the United States is a 21st iteration of the Wild West. It’s a hot and sparsely-populated region, rough around the edges, perpetually on the cusp of economic demise — and home to cultures and conflicts that seem like virtual myths to the rest of the world. It is in this modern-day Wild West that DEVIL IN THE DARK is set.
For those thriller fans that enjoy ensemble casts, this novel delivers. Much like the border itself embodies a clash and melding of laws, peoples, and cultures, DEVIL IN THE DARK sends its three central characters — Otis, Enrique, and Rage — on a collision course towards each other and the ultimate fate of their region. Short chapters jump from character to character, giving the book a sense of economy and urgency that legitimizes it as an entertaining thriller. Of course, with this pace comes a responsibility to craft short and sweet prose that does as much to enhance and power the plot as possible. Here, DEVIL IN THE DARK succeeds only in part. The writing is mostly short, though not always sweet. Lindberg frequently falls into the classic trap of telling instead of showing: his characters’ emotions are often sketched with too-familiar metaphors and an on-the-nose emotional vocabulary. In places, the novel walks a fine line between true page-turner and skim-able read. In others, the prose does exactly what it’s supposed to: it bolsters the plot without stepping on top of it.
Thriller fans looking for a fast and fun read with a hint of the dark and supernatural will find just that in DEVIL IN THE DARK. Even during awkward passages or predictable plot points, the novel never strays from its economic prose, thus managing to smooth over its own shortcomings with brevity.
Chris Lindberg delivers a fast-paced thriller for those who enjoy a mix of both contemporary, headline-pulled settings and fantastical elements. Economically written, DEVIL IN THE DARK reads at times like a superhero comic, without relying too heavily on the childish, hackneyed prose that often infests today’s thrillers. Plus, it’s got a pretty good twist.
~Kade Ashmore for IndieReader