"Girl in the Dark" by Marion Pauw

Iris is a single mother with a demanding job as a lawyer. She is trying to keep it together, caring for her son who has behaviour issues and dealing with her judgmental mother. Though she only works part-time, her job has her representing people like a man who is accused of making child pornography. She lives each day thinking that she is a failure, unable to cope.

One day, while she is house-sitting for her mother, one of the fish in her mothers aquarium dies. Iris has never understood why her mother would keep such a large tank filled with tropical fish and her mother always refused to say why. But as Iris looks into caring for the fish, she makes a shocking discovery - she has an older brother named Ray.

Iris’ mother has never mentioned Ray and she can’t figure out why. As she searches for answers she discovers that he is autistic and in a home for the criminally insane, where he was placed after being charged with brutally murdering his neighbour and her young child.

Iris takes it upon herself to meet with Ray, a man who heartbreakingly looks, and acts, like her own son. But what really strikes Iris is that he seems unable to have committed the crime that he is accused of. 

Girl in the Dark, by Marion Pauw, is a page-turning thriller about the lies and secrets that can tear a family apart. Told in the alternating voices of Iris and Ray, this book will have you hanging on to the very end wondering what really happened.

Mystery/Crime Fiction is a genre that I have only recently begun reading a lot of and I’ve been enjoying it very much. When I heard that Pauw is one of the best Dutch crime writers I knew I had to give this book a try and I enjoyed it very much. The character of Iris isn’t the most likeable but you can see how she is struggling to keep it all together and how hard life has been for her. I can’t imagine having her job, having to represent people you loathe. The character of Ray is a shining star, you instantly feel protective of him. And their mother Agatha, well she is a piece of work. Together, these characters make for a story that you just have to know what it is that lies beneath.

I felt that there was a lot of setup of the story in the book and around page 200 I was wondering when it was really going to get into the actual crime itself and who the culprit is. I was worried that it was going to wrap up too quick given how long it took to get through the backstory. And yet, when it did come to it all, I was shocked. Which is funny considering I pretty much had the idea of who did it through most of the book. I just couldn’t figure out why exactly and in the last 20 pages I was impressed.

I was hooked through this entire book and the ending left me deeply satisfied - you can’t ask for anymore from a book.


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