That Darkness (Gardiner and Renner #1) by Lisa Black

Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books (April 26, 2016)

From As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine. 

Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.

Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil …


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This book definitely has a solid concept - and while I'm not usually a fan of criminal stories where you know who the culprit is from the get-go, this one was interesting enough to keep my attention as I watched Jack desperately try to stay one step ahead of Maggie. 

However, I never really felt as though these characters developed beyond concept characters. With the exception of a few scenes near the end, we never really understand what drove Jack to the lengths that he went - what the catalyst was that set him down that path. And as for Maggie - I feel as though I know just as much about her at the end of the story that I did in the beginning. What I don't see is any real character growth. We get absolutely no glimpse into their lives outside of their work (and Jack's murderous hobby). It is almost as though the author would have us believe they do little else. Also, I found the fact that Maggie is supposedly coordinating healthcare benefits for the wife of a friend to be utterly ridiculous. With all of the privacy laws, I fund it difficult to believe these people would willingly discuss someone's medical needs with anyone. Especially with someone over the phone without proper documentation proving they should have access to patient information.

As for the murders, and the police work that goes into solving them - I found the murders to be the most interesting aspect of the entire story (especially when the author illustrated how even the most carefully laid plans can go horribly wrong),  however I felt that the detail surrounding Maggie and getting her "tapings" became repetitive and downright distracting. It is obvious that the author knows what they were talking about in that respect, but it was hard to stay focused and pay attention when the story suddenly went flat. 

Overall, I am sure there are some people to whom this novel will appeal. However, it really wasn't for me, and chances are I won't be continuing on with these characters.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


That Darkness (Gardiner and Renner #1) is available from

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