2019 Reviews · crime · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Woman in Darkness by Charlie Donlea

Title: The Woman in Darknessthe woman in darkness small.jpg

Author: Charlie Donlea

Published: April 2nd 2019

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 304

Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thriller

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

Charlie Donlea’s chilling new suspense thriller is the story of two women, separated by forty years, yet both inextricably linked by a series of horrific murders that took place in 1979.

“She wondered if the mysterious woman had chosen darkness. Or if darkness had chosen her.”

As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together details others fail to see. And while cleaning out her late father’s law office, she takes a call that plunges her into a forty-year-old mystery.

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind – until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, which uncovered his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared.

Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder – the only killing the DA could pin on him. But a cryptic file found in her father’s office suggests to Rory there is more to the case than anyone knew.

Soon Rory is helplessly entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell and what happened to her. Drawing connections between the past and present, she uncovers dark truths about the reclusive woman, her own father, and the man called The Thief.

But not even Rory is prepared for the terrifying secrets about to emerge…


Charlie Donlea is a major player in the thriller world and he returns to the scene with his latest suspense filled novel, The Woman in Darkness. This is a story that blurs the lines between darkness and light. Bold and unpredictable, The Woman in Darkness is a book that begs to be read in just one sitting.

Cold cases are Rory Moore’s specialty. As a forensic reconstructionist, it is Rory’s job to look into the cases that have turned up dead ends, or simply been forgotten. She casts new eyes on complex cases, but when her father dies, Rory is led into a case that has remained a mystery for over forty years. This case takes the reader back to the year 1979, a time when five women were declared as missing. A perpetrator, named ‘The Thief’ was to blame for the disappearances, but a woman named Angela Mitchell, who is the essential key to exposing the identity of the case also disappeared. Now, some forty years since his incarceration, ‘The Thief’ faces release, as his parole process begins. However, with new eyes on the case thanks to Rory Moore, the case is ripped apart, exposing plenty of inconsistencies. In the process, Rory is faced with a dark and unthinkable truth as she works to draw the links between ‘The Thief’, Angela Mitchell and her late father.

I was really looking forward to this novel, based on my high rating of Charlie Donlea’s 2018 release, Don’t Believe It, which literally blew my socks off thriller wise. It was amazing and despite making a commitment to reading Donlea’s backlist, I haven’t got there yet. An opportunity to review Charlie Donlea’s brand new release had me jumping for joy. I enjoyed The Woman in Darkness, but it didn’t quite elevate me to the heights that Don’t Believe It did. I have a feeling this may be due to the fact that I was unable to read The Woman in Darkness over one or two close sittings, it was stretched out over a few days. With a double narration, this meant that the flow didn’t quite click. I do want to stress this is a personal constraint and not the fault of the author.

I really liked the placement of Rory Moore in this novel. The idea of a forensic reconstructionalist thrilled me. The opportunity to learn about the skills, mindset and approach needed to perform this job well was outlined to perfection by Donlea. I also appreciated how Donlea put Rory in an uncomfortable situation and really tested her character. Her late father’s involvement in the case of ‘The Thief’ throws all sorts of complications Rory’s way.  I definitely enjoyed sinking my teeth into this aspect of the novel.

Backing up Rory’s side of the novel is the 1979 past time frame that we fade in and out of during the course of the novel. Centralising this segment of the book on Angela Mitchell was an excellent plot device employed by Donlea. It suspends the level of tension and thrills the audience to breaking point. With a good handful of plot twists, turns and dark truths that are revealed in the process of returning to the past and Angela Mitchell’s story, the reader is constantly on high alert. With the help of some very apt characterisation and gripping storytelling, with plenty of embedded clues that I admit passed me by, the final curtain call had me reeling!

Seasoned thriller followers will welcome this new novel from Charlie Donlea.  The Woman in Darkness is another stylish thriller from Charlie Donlea.

The Woman in Darkness by Charlie Donlea was published on the 2nd April 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Woman in Darkness, Charlie Donlea, visit here.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s