Book Review: Path Into Darkness by Lisa Alber

“As ever, the way news spread through town caught Merrit off guard, as if it traveled through the breezes that brushed over drystone walls and wended their way toward Lisfenora, gathering strength to blow the latest gossip into everyone’s minds at the same time.”

What could be better reading in the sweltering months of summer than a dark and atmospheric mystery? As I read Lisa Alber’s highly anticipated Path Into Darkness, the third in her County Clare mystery series, I could almost feel the misty rain and brisk winds of Ireland sweeping over me. Although new to the series, I had no trouble becoming immediately engrossed in both the characters and plot line which centered around the murder of one of Lisfenora’s locals and a regular at the Plough and Trough Pub.

As Detective Sargent Danny Ahern reflects “Crime tended to occur because of or within people’s hidden worlds. Half the battle of investigating crimes was cracking the mirrors that reflected back people’s polite facades,” and Danny is no exception. Hiding his own turmoil, guilt-ridden Danny agonizes over the fate of his comatose wife, while others in the small town battle with their inner demons and find that the secrets they keep can return to tear lives apart.

Short chapters narrated from multiple perspectives and journal entries made this novel a quick and enjoyable read, and although grim and grisly at times, the interweaving of Irish folklore and tradition felt like rays of sunshine breaking through stormy skies. Alber’s mix of myth and murder, faith and folklore is, as Liam, the town matchmaker might describe, a perfect pairing.

Intricate and deeply unnerving, I was never quite sure how the pieces of broken lives would fit together until the very end. Now, having read book three, I’m looking forward to reading both Kilmoon and Whispers in the Mist, eager to learn more about Danny Ahern and the rest of the complicated County Clare residents.