Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

I was so close to giving A Map of the Dark one star, because it was the most predictable crime novel I’ve ever read. I expected a lot more. Karen Ellis is the pseudonym of established crime/thriller author Katia Lief, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about her novels. Sadly, I’m no longer feeling inclined to checking her out.

The novel opens with the kidnapping of a girl. It then dives into the investigation, following FBI Agent Elsa Myers as she looks into the disappearance of a different teenage girl. There are a lot of false starts, Elsa and her partner Lex chasing their tails, but I knew who the perpetrator was the moment they appeared on the page. The lack of subtlety is astounding.

There were a few “SHOCK TWISTS” in this book, but I saw all of them coming from a mile away. The atmosphere that Ellis built was absorbing, but sadly the obvious plot destroyed any emotional involvement that I felt. I didn’t help that the flashbacks were told in second person, contrasting uncomfortably with the rest of the novel. I’ve already read a book that did this in 2018 and I didn’t enjoy it: I’m hoping that it’s not going to be a trend throughout the rest of the year.

Elsa has a troubled past, which is exposed slowly but surely throughout the novel. Her struggle with self-harm is written in a realistic way, but other than Lex’s support she doesn’t reach out to anyone and doesn’t seem to think that she needs help with her compulsion. It’ll be interesting to see whether Ellis decides to focus on this in a future installment (A Map in the Dark is the first book in a series called The Searchers) but she’ll need to make sure to do it in a sensitive way.

Personally, I don’t think I’m going to continue on with the series, but I’ll be keeping an eye out to see whether it looks like things are improving. If you’re new to the crime genre and haven’t read many novels, you might enjoy this one – unfortunately I’ve read far too many to be surprised by any of the events which unfolded in this book.

If you’re interested in learning more about A Map in the Dark, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!