Title: Under Darkness
Author: Dylan Murphy
Review: The prologue to Under Darkness was great, we meet Kurt, Todd and Neil in Amity, Virginia were they are on their way to deal with a Black activist by the name of Devin Taylor. For what I gathered Neil is undercover and works for the FBI but his accomplices don’t know this. We learn that Todd is White Fist’s leader – a form of Aryan group. After successful kidnapping Devin they take him back to their headquarters as they begin to interrogate and torture Devin the power cuts out and there is a hint of a majorly destructive events or the apocalypse.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel Neil theorizes that a nuke or nukes have exploded in the atmosphere caused an EMP to wipe out all their tech. In these moments all he can think about his finding his heavily pregnant daughter Josie who is currently residing in Washington DC but he has to deal with the White Fist gang first. As their suspicions are confirmed Neil uses his experience to give the group direction that he is hoping will work in his favour as he wants to head to Washington DC to find his daughter but he is also conscious of the fact there are young children within the group. Neil’s plan is to find food, water and fuel to stock up before the masses find out what is going on because then all hell will break loose. When Neil gets left behind while the others go on a supply trip he is pissed and relieved; pissed because it delays him finding Josie and relieved because he can now talk to Devin. Neil begins working on a plan to get himself and Devin among other away from the White Fist movement. Anti-Semitism and race play a massive role in this novel even seeping into Neil’s own past.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel we see Todd and the others return they tell Neil that they want to head to D.C. to get their message out and seize control although Neil wants to get to D.C. to find Josie he doesn’t want people like Todd anywhere near his daughter. We see that Neil is literally caught between a rock and a hard place as he is trying to get himself and Devin away from the gang but given the wider situation at this moment it doesn’t seem like it is going to happen. Neil also has to tread very carefully as one little slip up could spell disaster from him, Devin and their plan. When an airplane crash survivor Richard appears and Neil tries to help him the White Fists kill him and he vows that is he ever finds Mary the woman Richard was looking for an in love with that he will protect her from men like the ones he is with.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel when the group finds a radio unaffected by the EMP they learn that the country is now under a state of emergency and it is literally every man for himself now. Neil begins thinking about what would happen in a few weeks’ time when the food and water situation becomes desperate and what if he can’t find his daughter and unborn grandchild. Although he does snap out of his negative thinking these situation loom over him like a black cloud. As Neil meets up with a friend; Ray and his wife Molli as he is gathering supplies we learn that everything is going tits up and the apocalypse has begun. Neil gives his friend a crash course in survival skills and then head back to deal with the White Fists and find his daughter before it’s too late. As the harsh and desperate nature of their situation presses down up Neil he slowly crumbles but manages barely to hold himself in check around the others. Eventually with Devin’s pleading he tells Cara about his plan to spring Devin and leave hopefully with her and Savannah although she doesn’t seem onboard Neil hopes she will change her mind and soon.
As we cross into the second half of the novel we see Neil trying to keep an eye on Cara and Savannah but it’s near impossible with a drugged and drunken Todd flying around although the mood is once again subdued when Kait commits suicide although some are under the impression someone offed her. Apart from the initial reaction to the EMP and the internal conflicts of the gang not much has really happened although we can feel the story building up to its climax, with the tension and suspense being ramped up at every opportunity as the author tries to highlight the complete and utter desperation some of the characters are feeling.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel we learn that Kait left behind a tape after her death that may or may not hint at the fact Neil isn’t who he says he is. As more time passes the stronger Neil believes that he has to get Devin, Cara and Savannah away from Todd and find his daughter before something happens but he has made no move to do so yet although he has had chances to do something. When Todd appoints Neil as his second security guard it gives him an opportunity to learn about the group and their internal hierarchy and what exactly each person does underneath Todd. We see Neil come up with the plan to destroy White Fist from the inside and even convinces Todd to attack a police station for the weapons. When they get just before the attack Neil slips some useful information to the others although he is confident that this plan won’t go smoothly
As we cross into the final section of the novel we see that the police station raid doesn’t go as planned when a rival gang MS-13 turn up. Neil’s plan goes out the window as it once again becomes a fight for survival and although Neil takes a bullet in the leg, they manage to get away. I did really like the kind of touching scene between Neil and Devin where they White Fist gang use Devin to patch up Neil after taking a bullet. After the raid a few people begin to suspect that MS-13 turning up at the exact time they were meant to hit the police station wasn’t coincidence and that someone leaked the information to them and Todd is determined to find out who betrayed them. After the raid in the police station a second attempt in made on Fist HQ with Cara saving the day although when Manchon’s B-plan arrives they had minimal to suit up before they come under fire once again. We also learn that Cara knows who Neil really is and hasn’t turned him over to Todd, but to his surprise Neil finds he likes being part of the White Fist group because it provides him with the friendships and secure unit he has craved most of his life.
In the final 20 pages of this novel we see Neil and the gang prepare to head for D.C. although in an uncharacteristic fashion we see Todd give everyone the option of leaving the group if they desire. On the morning they are shipping out, some teenagers try to hijack their car leaving Savannah seriously injured with a gunshot wound. Neil confides in Cara little about his own daughter and unborn grandchild out there somewhere in this mess. In the end Neil is discovered to be an FBI agent and taken as a hostage like Devin was, in his isolation he meets the one person he has been searching for; Josie. He learns she has been under his nose all this time and tells her of his plan to break free and she agrees to help him. Overall, I liked this novel but felt that the majority of the action happened in the last 30 or so pages and at times it could be a really drag but given the fact the ending leaves a perfect opening for a sequel I could be compelled to carry on with this series to see what happens next.
This book was sent to me for review consideration by Hidden Gem Books
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