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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Some Choose Darkness

Some Choose Darkness

ISBN: 978-1496713810

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: 5/28/2019

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ Author Q&A June 1

A modern master of suspense, critically acclaimed author Charlie Donlea returns with a taut, gripping novel about the deadly secrets hiding in plain sight . . The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more. 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, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before they could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. But the cryptic file Rory finds in her father’s law office suggests there is more to the case, and Angela Mitchell, than what was fed to the public, the details of which have been buried for four decades. Rory’s talents are tested as she begins reconstructing Angela’s last days. Making one startling discovery after another, Rory becomes helplessly entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell and what happened to her. Drawing connections between the past and present, Rory uncovers dark truths about the reclusive victim, her father, and the man called The Thief that send her down a twisting trail where things may not be as they appear. As she continues to dig, even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . .

Some Choose Darkness

My Review

Raw, Chilling, and Emotional.

Donlea’s most ambitious and BEST yet! He gets better and better with each book.

Bestselling thriller author Charlie Donlea returns following his 2018 hit, Don’t Believe It (Top books of 2018) with his latest, SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS. A mix of hard-boiled and contemporary—Dark and gritty. Utterly captivating and absorbing!

With smart tactics, Donlea skillfully creates a “killer” character-driven, sophisticated, multi-layered, and a profoundly moving psychological crime thriller of obsession and murder— riveting suspense with a sinister predator hiding in plain sight.

Frighteningly real. True crime buffs will find a lot to like here.

SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS is written with several timelines (1979, 1981, and 2019), as well as different POV and multiple settings. Drawing connections between past and present the transition is seamless and brilliantly done!

Let’s dive in! I am concentrating on the "three women" in my review since this was my favorite part. You do not want to miss a thing.

In Chicago, 1979 five women go missing in a three month period. They named the serial killer “The Thief” due to hiding his bodies. He was famous for “The Rush.” You will need to read the book to understand the perp’s obsession. He loved the power and dominance. After a thorough investigation, the case was left unsolved, and no bodies were found.

Broken into three parts • Part One: The Thief • Part Two: The Reconstruction • Part Three: The Farmhouse

Meet Angela Mitchell 1979 Chicago.

A mysterious, intuitive OCD/Autistic woman. An enigmatic character (loved her) puts together intricate and extensive details of the murders. She follows each murder. An ordinary housewife with special needs, investigative skills, and a misunderstood mental illness.

Angela has a brilliant mind. She absorbs everything around her and keeps it stored in the deep recesses of her brain. She follows the news stories of the murders.

She sees a man lurking in an alley. She senses things about him. She follows him. She sees what he is doing. She finds clues. She is afraid for her life. If she goes to the police, will they believe her, or will they lock her away thinking she is crazy, due to her mental illness?

She tells only her best friend. How is she going to help anyone if she is in an institution? She would find what everyone else has missed. Afraid for her life, she sends her detailed information to the police, in the event something happens to her.

But before the police can locate her, she disappears. Hence, they were able to charge The Thief with her murder, and he was sent to prison. She appeared to possess inside information, one else would have, specific to the serial killer crimes.

An ongoing theme throughout the novel:

“Some choose darkness. Others are chosen by it. The truth is easy to miss when it is right in front of us.” This phrase is accurate many times over in the novel for almost every character.

Now, forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled.

2019: Meet RORY MOORE Main Protagonist: Chicago

PROFILE • AN UNCANNY ABILITY to see what others do not. • EXPERT: Solving cold-case homicides (for Chicago police) • RECONSTRUCTS crime scenes • INTROVERT. Highly Intelligent. Unconventional. OCD • ATTORNEY (non-practicing) • THIRTY-SOMETHING • PARTNER/Live-in Boyfriend: Lane Phillips. (former FBI profiler, successful author) and Founder of The Lane Murder Accountability Project (Joint with Rory). • HOBBY: Restorer of Antique Dolls • FAVORITE DRINK: Dark Lord Stout Beer • ATTIRE: Glasses, beanie hat, jacket, lace-up combat boots.

It was programmed into her DNA to see things others missed, to connect dots that look scattered and incongruent to everyone else. The cops have handed her a new case to reconstruct.

Rory’s father, Frank Moore a successful attorney with The Moore Law Group, and has recently passed away from a heart attack, and she is cleaning out his office. While working on the new case, she comes across some disturbing and cryptic files regarding the old Thief’s case.

The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. But what Rory discovers is alarming.

The headlines had read: Schizophrenic Woman Brings Down The Thief.” No one seemed to know much about Autism in 1979 and Schizophrenic sold more papers. He evidently killed her before she could testify.

Rory cannot fathom why her dad represented this awful criminal, and she is very intrigued by the mysterious woman Angela. What happened to her? She is in awe of her skills. Plus, now she finds herself immersed in this file. Even though she does not currently practice, she is licensed in Illinois and inherits her father’s case.

Rory is not excited about meeting this horrific man and overseeing his release; however, she is obsessed with solving this cold-case and deal with The Thief. She is determined to breakdown this monster and at the same time solve the mystery of her dad and this mysterious woman, Angela.

Due to the stress of this case and this creep, she turns to her favorite hobby, Kestner doll reconstruction and the support of her favorite aunt.

Meet Rory’s Great Aunt Greta- Peoria, IL

Aunt Greta resides a beautiful farmhouse surrounding by lush rose gardens and rolling hills with white picket fencing. A wonderful giving woman that Rory loves dearly. Each time she has questions about the doll reconstruction, she calls her Aunt Greta.

When she was a child, her parents sent her to Aunt Greta’s house during the summer and most weekends where she taught Rory about doll reconstruction. She finds solace here and the doll reconstruction soothes her nerves.

But now her aunt’s health is declining, and her mind is remembering confusing things from the past. Alzheimer’s and Dementia had stolen most of her personality. Her aunt offers her wise advice. To face her fears head-on. There were always choices.

“Nothing can scare you unless you allow it to scare you.”

With her aunt’s courage, Rory visits Statesville Correctional Institute in Crest Hill, IL where The Thief had been housed for forty years. Now, age 68. She informs him she is taking over his case as Frank’s daughter. Her father also had the financial power of attorney, which had been transferred to her.

The judge had granted a request The Thief could live in the home located outside of Chicago, a cabin he inherited in the forest from an uncle in 1994. They kept the identity of the location out of the media. She now will work with his social worker during the twelve months of release. Why had her father kept in touch with this criminal and managed his holdings?

After all, she reconstructs the dead for a living. She pieces together bits of evidence that had been overlooked by everyone else.

We also meet Angela’s best friend from 1979 who runs a blog, Justice for Angela. Catherine Blackwell. Will she be in danger? How is she connected?

Her aunt Greta may be the missing link and her father. How is Angela connected? Will Rory be able to put the pieces of this puzzle together before The Thief kills again? Or is he as innocent as he claims? Who will be his next victim? Where is Angela? The other dead bodies? What is his next move? Is there a copycat killer?

How many secrets can one family have?

Some Choose Darkness

Why I ENJOYED the book:

An irresistible page-turner. You will be on the edge-of- your-seat! Wow, what separates SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS from all the other thrillers out today is the "superb" character development. The flawed, yet sympathetic characters come alive on the page from the classic crime thriller of the 70s to contemporary 2019. They will haunt you long after the book ends.

Plus, the intensity will leave you utterly breathless. The plot is intricate and intense. Oh, and the “jaw-dropping scenes” will leave you gasping.

Even though the crimes are dark, the author shines light and goodness within his characters with heart and love for these tormented souls for a nice balance. Multi-layered and atmospheric, an exceptional thriller with intense and complex family emotions and secrets, forensics, and an evil serial killer. The mental illness topics were compassionately written. Like no other book I have read. It will blow you away!

This is the author’s first book set in Chicago where he resides. From the dark alleys of urban Chicago (bungalow), cool landmarks, and old warehouses to the scenic and mysterious forest of Starved Rock Park (cabin), to the rolling picturesque farmlands, of Peoria, IL (farmhouse)— Donlea takes us on a roller coaster heart-pounding journey.

Atmospheric, with a strong sense of place as relates to the specific times, characters and events. This further enhances the intrigue with vivid vibrant backdrops. You can sense every movement, emotion, and voice. (View my Q&A with the author coming June 1 to learn more about the inspiration behind the compelling novel plus much more)!

Each of Donlea’s three previous books has featured a strong female lead. With SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS, there are three fearless intelligent, flawed, tormented, and courageous women.

I LOVE Rory’s character! The author has created an interesting character, and she is here to stay! She is eccentric and complex. Hoping to see Rory and Lane in future books and a series.

If you LOVE Lisa Gardner’s crime fiction and her DD Warren and Flora Dane, Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent, or Michael Robotham’s Joe O’Loughlin series (3 of my favorites), this book is for YOU!

Both chilling and emotional, Donlea does not disappoint. My Top Books of 2019. This would make a perfect TV series! Highly recommend.

On a side note: Charlie has also dedicated this book to the memory of his beloved aunt, the “old woman.” As you read this story, you will agree, we can learn much from our elders if we only listen to their wise advice and are fortunate enough to have them share their hidden secrets before their minds fade. Our previous generations, unlike today’s world of social sharing, holds much more intrigue and mystery. I find stories of this generation fascinating, like no other.


Named one of the most anticipated thrillers of Summer 2019

“Donlea’s cinematic style puts readers squarely into the scenes, and his skillful prose takes his work to a higher level.”

—NY Journal of Books

"The anxiety and deep cleansing breaths will be a must with this serial killer thriller." —SheReads

“In Donlea's skillful hands, this story of obsession, murder, and the search for truth is both a compassionate character study and a compelling thriller.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Donlea smoothly mixes red herrings and genuine clues...readers who relish a good puzzle will be rewarded.”

—Publisher's Weekly

“Part 1970s serial-killer thriller and part contemporary Chicago crime novel, this deceptively quick read has something for everyone.”


“A harrowing ride full of twists and turns.” —Press-Republican

About the Author

Charlie Donlea is the USA Today and International bestselling author of Summit Lake, The Girl Who Was Taken and Don't Believe It. He resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for Summit Lake.

With so many choices of entertainment and countless other books to choose from, he thanks you for spending your time and treasure on his creation. Read More






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