The Long Dark Road by P.R. Black | Publisher: Aria and Aries | Publication Date: 5 November 2020 | Genre: Suspense; Thriller | Find it on: Goodreads
A slow-burning thriller with a twist ending that almost makes up for the pages it took to get there.
Georgia’s daughter has been missing for over a year, but she’s not giving up the search. While the police have ruled the case a suicide, assuming the body has been lost to a swift flowing current, Georgia refuses to accept her daughter is gone. Until there’s a body, Georgia will continue to look. After all, she knew her daughter–an aspiring writer–and she never would have killed herself without leaving a note. Georgia knows, in her bones, that something happened to her daughter. On the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Georgia returns to the town where she was last seen and starts her investigation all over again.
I normally love missing person thrillers, but unlike The Chain or What Kind of Mother Are You, The Long Dark Road doesn’t pick up hours or days after the mysterious disappearance has taken place. The idea of the long-suffering, little-believed mother does make for an interesting hook, but Black doesn’t lean into this potential. Georgia acts like a woman pushing through the first 48 hours, desperate to find her daughter alive. She assumes crime scenes (in a college town, at that) won’t have been trampled, evidence won’t have blown away or been destroyed after twelve months of weather, that witness statements won’t be tainted by the false memories of time and prolonged media coverage.
In fact, a lot about Georgia’s character doesn’t seem real. For the first third of the book I tried to give her a break (she’d lost her only child), but throughout the story she continues to morph into someone unlikeable, disconnected from reality, and with an odd mother-daughter dynamic that doesn’t feel authentic. This is, perhaps, because we only see the story from her perspective and some short, clunky journal entries from her daughter before she disappeared.
These inauthentic relationships carry through to all the characters. Personalities flip for no reason. Everyone seems one question away from a physical altercation. Witnesses snap from helpful and sympathetic to outright antagonistic with little provocation. The dialogue is circular. The plot feels like an ouroboros.
At about the 60% mark there’s a revelation that changes the tone of the book and finally sets into the thriller pace I was hoping for from the beginning. From this point on there are twists, plots, and hope that Georgia may finally get some answers about her daughter. This last chunk of the book is exactly what I was hoping to read. The twists and plot shifts Black introduces here are ones I would have loved to see explored in more detail and earlier in the book.
Do I feel like I wasted my time reading this book? Not entirely. Would I recommend it? Only if you’re willing to put in the effort to get to the end.
Read it? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!
*I received a galley of this book for review purposes*