Author: Bill Kirton
Bill Kirton’s The Darkness will hold you in thrall with the quality of its writing, spare unflinching scenes, and the questions the author raises. Is it more than a crime novel? Is it a melodrama focused on murder and revenge? Is it a good yarn? Is it a clever portrayal of the inner thoughts of a depraved person who also reminds us that perhaps under the right circumstances we could likewise fall prey to the same course of criminal behavior? Is it possible to sympathize and perhaps even condone the premeditated crimes of forceful confinement and murder committed by a doctor of medicine, who carried with him a primitive urge for vengeance, the result of caring for patients who were victims of abominable crimes?
After reading this fascinating novel, you may come to the same conclusion as I did with an emphatic yes on all counts. Multitalented Kirton, who was born in England but has lived most of his life in Scotland, has over the years worn many hats as playwright, song and sketch writer for revues, novelist, short story writer, university lecturer, actor, director, and television presenter. As he states on his web site: "I love writing. I love the power of even the simplest words. I love the intimacy that's established between the writer and reader as, together we turn fiction into a reality."
In The Darkness it only takes a few chapters to set the hook that will grab you by the jugular and keep you reading. The plot unfolds as we read about thirty-five old Tommy Davidson taking his own life, having cut his throat. We learn that Davidson was a successful attorney who had recently lost his wife and two daughters, the result of a car accident caused by a drunken driver. The driver was fortunate enough to engage a top criminal attorney, F.K. (Freddy) Reismann, someone you would call upon if your case were hopeless. This attorney was outstanding and an ace at taking the best evidence the prosecuting attorneys could present and turning them around. The result was that he had a string of victories involving the most hideous crimes involving among others wife beating, murder, and pedophilia.
Upon further reading, we discover, along with detective Jack Carston of Cairnburgh Scotland that without any logical explanation a string of individuals have disappeared. The only element tying them together was that they were all quite nasty and they had previously being involved in some kind of a criminal proceeding wherein Reismann had been their defence attorney helping them to evade justice. Was someone out there doing the police a favor by removing these dregs from society?
And to throw us a curve, Kirton inserts into the plot three other individuals who likewise disappear, one of whom was a prostitute. Is there some kind of connection or conspiracy?
Kirton has a fine ear for dialogue and a talent for picking out tiny, telling details that make his scenes come alive, particularly some of the crime scenes. In addition, he is exceptionally gifted as he deftly captures the psychotic thoughts and fury of Davidson’s brother Andrew who during the course of his medical practice has witnessed some atrocious crimes committed against some of his patients. The struggle within his psyche to deal with demons, the anger and the smell are so real that we resist temptation to turn away as Andrew beckons us to listen to all that he has to say and listen properly to all of it. As he states, perhaps our psychiatrists can make something of it. He certainly can’t. A difficult pill to swallow and therein lies the brilliance of this audacious and haunting novel that deserves public attention.