My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It took a little while for me to fall into total book love with Jonathan Dark Or The Evidence Of Ghosts but oh I was lapping it up by the end, definitely my favourite book of the year so far. It’s the second book by AK Benedict and I am desperate for her to write more, she creates these fantastical but believable worlds, where the extraordinary lurks just below the surface of the ordinary and she creates characters which make you just desperate to read more books about their adventures.
Benedict’s first book was set in Cambridge and involved time travel, this one is set in London and umm involves ghosts. Jonathan Dark is one of those depressed coppers with a miserable love life, he has been investigating the murder of a woman who had previously been stalked, for some time but with not much success, when it becomes clear that the stalker has another victim in his sights, Maria. Maria is an archeologist by profession, mudlark by hobby and she permanently wears a scarf around her eyes. Maria, born blind, had an operation that allowed her to see but she rejected it, preferring to live in the rich world of sound, smell, texture and taste but is she risking her life by still not taking the mask off, even when she knows she’s being stalked? The stalker is as creepy as anything, a far more well rounded and therefore more sinister villain, than the villain of Benedict’s first book, who was a bit pantomime-ish. I also particularly liked how some of the stalker’s thoughts were echoed in the scenes where Dark thinks about his separated from wife. Also I liked how you really are kept guessing right to the almost end about who the stalker actually is.
And of course there’s the ghosts, it’s quite handy when investigating murders to be able to talk to the victims, although Dark doesn’t know that at first. He moves next door to a funeral parlour and he becomes friends with Frank, who runs the business. There was a really poignant subplot involving the ghosts, which was really an interesting metaphor for depression I think. There’s also a much bigger sub plot about a sinister ring of influential people. Benedict ties all these strands together really well, it was great to read a story that was a bit more complex than some of the stuff I’ve been reading recently, yet still a really enjoyable read.