cover image Murder in the Dark

Murder in the Dark

Simon R. Green. Severn, $28.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8823-5

Green’s subpar sixth paranormal mystery featuring Ishmael Jones (after Into the Thinnest of Air) takes Ishmael and his lover, Penny Belcourt, who often assists him, to Somerset. Jones, an alien who was made human by “transformation machines” after his spaceship crashed to Earth in 1963, works for the Organization, which investigates “cases of the weird and unusual.” He and Penny are to provide security for an archeological dig on Brassknocker Hill, where one archeologist on the team vanished after falling into an “unnatural” hole. The site is also the locus for legends about the Beast of Brassknocker, which “tears apart the local wildlife.” Later, a second archeologist jumps into the hole, only to be retrieved as a corpse. The body displays no marks of violence, but the face is “contorted into an expression of utter horror.” The survivors wonder whether they face an external or an internal threat, which may not be human. Those expecting the high level of tension of the previous book, in which people inside an eerie house disappeared one at a time, will be disappointed. Green has done better and, hopefully, will do so again. (Dec.)