“The Dark Room” by Minette Walters

Walters, Minette. The Dark Room (1996)   
Penguin Putnam, 339 pages, $7.99 mass market paperback  
ISBN 0-515-12045-6

Jinx Kingsley, a London photographer and daughter of a millionaire father with reputed underworld connections, wakes up in a private hospital. She has no recollection of how or why she got there. But she does have flashes of images – like photographs coming to life in a darkroom – of blood, and dead bodies. Soon she learns that she was injured in a car accident shortly after her fiancé told her he was leaving her for her best friend. When the ex-fiancé and his new lover are found murdered, everyone – even Jinx – wonders if she’s responsible.

This is a fairly conventional romantic suspense novel, not up to the quality of Walters’s earlier books (The Ice House, The Scold’s Bridle, and The Sculptress). In those books Walters uses the conventions of the mystery genre to create expectations in the reader, then at the last minute inserts a bit of information that turns the story on its head and demonstrates that things aren’t always what they seem to be. I kept waiting for the twist in this story as I eagerly read through the novel’s final pages, but it never came.

© 2002 by Mary Daniels Brown

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