Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley - Residing near Seattle Martin “Mart” Reese has just returned from a “dig” in the woods. On the dig he has found human bones. His wife, Ellen, and teenage daughter, 14 year old Kylie, know nothing of his “digs”. As far as his family knew he had just spent a couple of days camping.
It is a tension filled house. Ellen is overprotective of Kylie. Twenty years ago her sister, Tinsley, was taken from a dingy nightclub and murdered but her body has never been found. Ellen and Martin have been married for 18 years. Martin is working hard not to return to the mindset he had at university 20 years ago.
Martin is rich and retired. A tech guy who sold his firm to give himself the time to know his daughter as she grows up.
While Kylie and Ellen discuss family rules Martin looks at photos in his scrapbook, his very personal laptop, from his most recent dig:
I made it through the digging, the carefully arranged dirt, until I finally hit
the first bone: an ulna, the thin forearm bone of a woman in her early
twenties. The next few pictures uncovered the rest of her, showing how
carefully I’d taken the dirt off her yesterday morning.
Is there a shiver working its way up your spine?
I was captured.
Martin has been digging up the bodies of murder victims using information he purchased from a lazy corpulent Seattle detective with a big thirst.
Martin’s passion for “digging” has ebbed and he has decided to make his next “dig” his last. He gets a USB with interviews on it with the suspected killer of Tinsley.
He secretly smiles for he had already made preparations to dig up his sister-in-law’s bones before receiving the USB.
There is an eerie fascination in Martin’s obsession to find the bones of the murdered. To succeed he needs to delve deep into the minds of serial killers:
A serial killer’s mind isn’t impenetrable, even if those FBI connect-the-dots profiles never seem to nail down the guy’s tics until after he’s caught or killed. That insane foreignness is just a comforting idea the nonmurdering public would like to nurture. A serial killer’s thinking is just this side of ours, in the way that a two-year-old’s logic is alien to a teenager.
The digs are a ritual event with specific rites and Martin talking aloud to himself.
And then Kylie catches him listening to an audio of a psychologist’s interview with Tinsley’s killer.
Martin discusses the life decisions of Tinsley’s killer with Kylie:
“…. Even if he had to kill himself, he could have stopped. But he didn’t,
and that’s what makes him evil. Evil, dead, human garbage.”
What do you do when you cannot discuss your favourite “hobby”? An activity carefully documented and meticulously planned. Even the introverted want more than the enjoyment of the planning and the “digging” and the remembering.
Martin makes mocking robotic calls to the police about uncovering the bodies the police have failed to find. Detective Sandra Whittal is irritated with the calls and the attitude in them. She is inherently suspicious of someone searching out bodies but avoiding credit or publicity. He is dubbed “The Finder”.
And then a newly killed woman is found by Martin in a “dig” with the body he expected to find and it is clear a killer knows, not just of his digging, but the details as well.
Police interest in the “Finder” is intense. Whittal is an intelligent and very determined officer.
Tension builds by the page to the conclusion.
It has been some time since I read a unique mystery. The concept of a “Finder” of serial murder victims is brilliant. It is an excellent novel not just a very good first book. At the same time the plot chills the reader. Noir is barely black enough to describe Find You in the Dark. Can, should, a reader enjoy the exploration of the minds and manipulations of serial killers and those fascinated by them?