ON THE TRAIL OF A KILLER: A Review of DARK PLACES by Jon Evans

A review by Kate Charlton


While trekking in the Himalayas, Paul Wood and another backpacker come across a Canadian murder victim whose corpse has been mutilated – there is a Swiss Army knife stuck into each eye. For Paul this sick crime is all the more horrifying because it brings back memories of the murder of his girlfriend two years earlier in Cameroon. Her eyes had been mutilated the same way. Paul doubts that this can simply be a coincidence, which leads him to wonder if this killer preying on backpackers is someone he knows. In both cases the local police force do not want to investigate or publicize the murders of foreign tourists, so Paul reluctantly concludes that stopping the killer is up to him.

Paul is an appealing hero – determined to get justice, clever and resourceful, but also vulnerable. He is a computer programmer whose expertise and income allow him to spend a third of each year to travelling in remote areas. He knows how to track the killer across the internet and across the world, but he also knows that face to face he’ll be no match for this extremely strong, extremely twisted serial killer.

Paul’s friends and fellow backpackers are deftly described. The killer’s motivation is discussed briefly but not really explained, as it’s not that kind of novel. The killer’s choice of victims, however, is scarily logical and possible.

Evans makes the most of the exotic settings – the Himalayas, Indonesia, Africa – without allowing description to slow the pace. He also manages to explain the investigations in the Internet clearly without being patronizing or getting bogged down in technical details. It all adds up to an impressive debut thriller.


For more information about Jon Evans or the Paul Wood books, visit www.rezendi.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(Biography from Harper Collins Canada website ©2005)


"JON EVANS grew up in Waterloo and is a graduate of the University of Waterloo. Taking breaks between jobs across North America and Europe, he has travelled the world, searching for the perfect settings for his fiction. Blood Price will also be published in the US and the UK. Jon Evans lives in Toronto."

The above reviewed novel Dark Places won the 2005 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.


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