Zakk reviews The Dark Age by Dallas Mullican

The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”


Zakk reviews “The Dark Age” by Dallas Mullican. 285 pages formerly published by Winlock Press (currently out of print).

“Cold and sterile, the morgue hinted at the grave to come. Evan recalled nothing of the drive from home, everything since the deputies’ visit a blur. Only nonsensical images full of furious shouts and baleful glares, and a beautiful picture drawn in a child’s hand, filled his thoughts. He waited in the hallway, seated on a stone-hard bench. The white corridor spanning in each direction seemed to lead to an afterlife, growing brighter as it descended into unseen fathoms. Evan loathed the doubt crushing his heart. Where was Jenny now? Where was her soul? He’d failed her so badly.”

Synopsis:

The Heretic knows they lied. Now, he will make them confess.

The first murder, a small town pastor burned at the stake, seems personal; an act of rage committed on impulse. But when a second victim is found brutally tortured to death, Detective Marlowe Gentry realizes he’s dealing with a serial killer who is drawing inspiration from the Inquisition: The Heretic.

The killer’s methods grow more gruesome with each victim. He’s escalating, racing toward an endgame. How far will The Heretic go to punish those who betrayed him? And can Marlowe stop him before the ultimate trial?

“His mind screamed with static, and the voices, thousands of them all demanding he bow to their demands. Evan pressed hands to his head, but could not shut them out. Underneath angry shouts and cries of suffering, the clear, cold laughter of God drilled into his psyche. Evan clung to sanity as his mind shattered.”

Here we go! The Dark Age! Book 2 in the Detective Marlowe Gentry series and another solid read from Dallas Mullican, and a solid sequel to A Coin for Charon. As we find our returning cast & crew moving on with their lives after previous event, new adversaries make themselves known by way of menace and threats.

As in A Coin for Charon, my favorite of the multiple narratives weaving through The Dark Age was that of our main adversary, Evan. And again I dig the religious overtones instilled. I am not a religion person and at 40 I am still trying to feel out my level of faith, my beliefs. I did have a highly religious grandmother who attempted to push that belief on to me. However my beliefs end up settling in I know that it will not be in the form of an organized religion, with which I hold a complete distrust. Thus it is easy to connect with Evan as he loses the vision of what he thought his faith defined and a new vision emerges.

Evan is a great character, and as his fall from grace dips further into depravity the excitement of the read intensifies. He has a deep backstory and as things unfurl, cracks in the plaster allowing light to shine through, you come to realize he may not be a golden boy after all. Which makes him all the more believable.

Other narratives include Marlowe and Becca’s life after Charon. This feels like a perfect natural progression of what they have gone through together and how this line intersects with some new players, protagonist & antagonist alike. I really liked how things play out here. We also get a bit more backstory from Spence, Marlowe’s partner. Making him more of a three dimensional character from last go around.

I feel that the drawbacks I had from the first book in the series are the same I have here. The dialogue between characters during the police procedure scenes still feels a bit familiar, not quite as much as the first entry. But being that it holds true stylistically to Charon is for the best. And again the various narrative threads wrap up with our main character having a kind of odd, varied involvement in each. I still think it feels like missed opportunities for Marlowe’s personal growth, but it does make for hard-to-guess conclusions. And anytime an ending isn’t telegraphed early on is a good thing. Again these are personal things for me, how stories hit with me, other readers may not feel the same way.

All in all, The Dark Age is a great read and a worthy successor to A Coin for Charon. I am still invested in the further adventures of Detective Gentry, but I would really like to read something from Dallas that is outside of the Gentry universe.

“Tell me I believe a lie. Convince me we’re alone and no higher power exists. It’s all random, pure chance. Tell me God is only a myth, and no one’s to blame. Make me believe it.”

Overall score: 4/ 5

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

“Keep it together, Hoss. Different time, different asshole.”

**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the author on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.


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