Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Don’t Turn Out the Lights is the fourth thriller featuring Commander Martin Servaz – although it is as much horror as it is thriller. The title is apt as it is not a bedtime read nor one for the faint-hearted; and even hardened readers might flinch a little at the ordeals that the characters undergo.
The prologue introduces Commandant Servaz in a gruesome scene from Servaz’s past, and one that may perplex a new reader to the series. The main plot follows radio presenter Christine Steinmeyer, who on Christmas Eve reads a note left in her mailbox, written by a woman intending to commit suicide. There is no name, no address, nor even any confirmation that Christine was the intended recipient. Christine can do nothing, but in her next ‘phone-in radio programme’ a caller accuses her: ‘You let her die’. Wherever Christine turns, there is no explanation of who this woman is, and soon her own life starts to unravel. She is not only attacked mentally, but physically as well.
Running concurrently with Christine’s story, we see Commandant Servaz [who has his own psychological problems] finds himself investigating a horrifying case of a woman who committed suicide as a result of a stalker’s campaign. The stalker could be better described as a Monster, and there are others involved. Can Servaz and Christine [both troubled by these mysterious messages] manage to stop the monster?
The novel is action-packed, well-handled with clever twists of plot so that the ending comes completely unforeseen; although perhaps not entirely satisfactorily.
The drawback is that the violent action overshadows the characters themselves at times, so that they become only pawns in the plot. As a result pace sometimes suffers and it’s hard to work out quite what’s going on.
Though ultimately a mixed bag, but one for thriller readers with a strong constitution, as Minier’s novel is indeed well worth exploring.
Translated by Alison Anderson