Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Put simply, DARK ROOM is plotted but it is not clued, and I am pretty sure that that was Steve Mosby’s intention. Detectives Hicks and Fellowes are the murder squad leaders investigating a series of brutal but unrelated murders, with Hicks narrating a good part of the story.
In-between we meet a character called The General, who writes teasing letters to the police, a Russian émigré candle maker, various characters from the streets of Mosby’s anonymous northern city, and a child recalling another brutal murder. Ultimately, they will all reveal their place, but the seemingly strong characters will have been shown to have had weaknesses, while some of the weaker characters who become victims must have had some strength that they could carry on in this hell-hole. That is why I say DARK ROOM is plotted, but with no way to see what the relations will be, also why I say it is not clued. This is a grim police procedural with rich sub-texts.
Steve Mosby likes to make things strange. From titles such as the one word “Detective”, to the police “departments” of Pennine towns, to the vagrants who live in derelict metro stations under the city, this is not the Yorkshire that we would read about in the Evening Post. On the other hand, although there is a vague hint that this is set in the near future (surely it must be for things to have got this bad? As if this were a sort of “Clockwork Orange” without the villains wearing their uniforms in public?), this is still a world in which Hicks wants to settle down with his pregnant partner and wait for fatherhood, and in which she reads about him in the local newspaper rather than through the internet or a mobile app. A time in which father’s service in the army should still count for something.
A dark room is rarely totally dark, some light slips around the door, some noise of what goes on elsewhere in the house can keep the bairns awake. Fortunately for the police, unfortunately for the villains, the same metaphor can apply to the hunt: flashes of light caught by the forensic team, CCTV film that proves an alibi, ghastly videos uploaded to the internet that provide hints to their location, and whispers that can be heard and the whispering grasses brought in for interrogation, supplying information. None of that, though, will stop Hicks being in both the right and wrong place when the shooting starts.
Will Hicks discover if Old Adam will out, does one generation damn the next? DARK ROOM will make you want to find out.