Book Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis ( The searchers #1)

A Map of the dark by Karen Ellis

Ruby Haverstock, a 17-year-old girl has been abducted at the end of her shift working in a Café on Friday evening. Detective Lex Cole, a new to the department Detective who’s just spent three years undercover with Vice is assigned to the case. It is his first child abduction case and he requests the help of FBI Agent Elsa Meyers as she has great track record in finding missing people. Agent Elsa, despite being on the bedside of her terminally ill father accepts the case. The duo starts by interviewing the friends and family of the abducted teenager. As the case progresses, they find a pattern and they realize it is linked to several child abductions that happened through the last few years. When Elsa’s niece Mel gets abducted, the case gets personal and it is upto Lex and Elsa to bring them all back.

The plot has multiple layers to it. There is the child abduction part and then we learn about Elsa’s present and past life. Though the description of the book makes it look like it is all about the child abduction case, its not. The main case was not compelling at all. First half of the book is filled with interviews of several of Ruby’s friends, ex-boyfriends, family and there is little to no progress. To me, the teenage characters depicted in the story didn’t seem real at all. I would say their characters were conveniently created as most of the case breakthroughs came from withheld information. Though the case evolves in the second half, there were no major twists and turns in the case and it was fairly predictable.

It is the other part of the story ( the one about Elsa ) that kept me reading. Set against the backdrop of the abduction case is the story of Elsa’s father, Roy, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Elsa’s younger sister Tara and her teenage niece Mel are also dealing with this heartbreak. Elsa Mayers is a complicated character who is still haunted by the demons of her past. Initially the dynamics between Elsa and her partner Lex Cole seems rough as Elsa tries to take control and cuts down any advances from his side in getting to know her. As the case progresses, both of them become great partners and also friends. Interspersed with the main case are the excerpts from Elsa’s troubled childhood, where she is abused by her mother. Now sitting alongside her dying father, Elsa struggles to get answers for the questions of her past.
A Map of the Dark is not all about abduction case. The book is character driven with Elsa’s character and her past playing a large part in the story. Karen Ellis is a talented writer and she somehow links both aspects of the book together to give a satisfying read.

Thanks to Mulholand books and Netgalley for ARC

Verdict: A Map of the Dark is a compelling read that combines police procedural and psychological thriller but not on right proportions.
3.5/ 5 Stars

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