By: Don Castle
Publication Date: April 2012
Reviewed by: Cory Bickel
Reviewed On: May 2012
According to FBI agent Sharon Wooldridge, a “Dark Soul” is someone “so evil and so vile that he or she is beyond evaluating or dealing with under the normal rules of decency...this person must be handled just as someone would handle a poisonous reptile or a medical lab would deal with a dangerous drug.” (pg. 172). In Don Castle’s new novel, private detective Jake Somers finds himself in charge of capturing such a man and stopping his plans to destroy a neighborhood and the life of anyone who gets in his way.
The case begins with the unprovoked shooting of an African-American girl at a routine traffic stop in the upscale neighborhood of Bryan Point in Dallas, Texas. Jake hears of the shooting on the same day he is contacted by his former boss, Captain Huddleston of the Dallas Police Department, for a seemingly unrelated issue of problems with the department’s new communication system. At their meeting Huddleston also tells Jake about problems he’s been having with his officers, including accusations of racial profiling and bogus tickets issued at traffic stops, as well as the latest senseless shooting. He is also puzzled by a drastic increase in crime in the Bryan Point area. He asks Jake to check out the company installing the new communications system, owned by Terry Mancini. The job sounds like an easy one, but things get more complicated when Allison Tyler, intern at Mancini Systems and daughter of an influential property owner in Bryan Point, goes missing. Jake finds out that she is working for the FBI, who has had its eye on Mancini for a long time and suspects him of kidnapping her. A series of murders of police department members also appear to be the work of Mancini, but without any solid evidence, the law enforcement agencies have their hands tied. The discovery of some unexpected additions to the department’s communication system reveals the devious route by which Mancini hopes to carry out an elaborate plan driven by pure greed. As time runs out for saving Allison and stopping Mancini, Jake is elected to coordinate the offensive on this heavily secured company. But by taking on such a twisted individual, he may be risking the lives of those he loves most.
In Dark Soul, Castle packs a lot of intrigue into a relatively short story and still manages to neatly tie everything up. Despite some editorial problems and rather stiff dialog, the book is fast-paced and absorbing. Jake is the all-around good guy hero who rescues injured dogs and treats his girl and mother right. Castle adds in humor and some unusual twists on the typical police story, such as a stripper joining the police and FBI in a raid. The cooperation between law enforcement agencies that he depicts is refreshingly different from the usual macho territory fights of crime novels. And the unique methods that Mancini employs to carry out his plan offer originality to mystery lovers who think they’ve read it all.
Quill Says: Through a complex plot that keeps one guessing right to the end, Castle explores the unfathomable depths to which a Dark Soul will sink to satisfy his desires.