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Review: Past Darkness, by Sam Millar

One of the reasons I enjoy reviewing books is it allows me the opportunity to highlight authors that may not be familiar to the masses. One author that I have had the pleasure of reading, and now have the pleasure of reviewing, is Sam Millar. I’ve read all of Millar’s books and found them all to be dark, depressing, and just flat out ass-kicking great reads.

Millar’s latest release is Past Darkness, book four in the Karl Kane series. In many ways, Kane’s character initially reminded me of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor. Both are private investigators that have a not-too-friendly past with the local authorities. They are both men with high morals who don’t mind breaking rules to ensure the evils of the world are exterminated.

But as I have followed the series, Kane has cemented himself as a character of great depth who stands on his own. At a very young age, Kane survived a brutal attack by a homicidal maniac that left his mother dead and his psyche scarred for life. This plot line is introduced in the first Karl Kane novel, but is highly showcased in this novel. Kane is finally put on a collision course with the monster that destroyed not only his childhood, but also shaped him into the adult he is today.

Millar has two separate plot lines going in this book and they both come together and merge into a dénouement that will have readers scrambling to get their hands on the next installment of what is one of my favorite series being penned today. Four books have not told the entire story behind Kane and Millar leaves a fifth book dangling like a carrot in front of us at the end of this one.

Authors seem at their best when they are writing what they know and what they have lived. Millar is no exception and it’s worth noting that he has lived a life that exposed him to some of life’s harshest environments and roughest people (His autobiography On the Brinks is a must read). Additionally, he reviews books for the New York Journal of Books and knows a thing or two about well-written books. Millar has taken his life experiences and adds them to all his books in a manner that allows the nightmares of his plots to come to life and absorb the reader in a blanket of darkness and despair.

I have often found myself hesitant to jump into the middle of a series without picking up the earlier books. If you are like me, do yourself a favor and grab the first book in this series (Bloodstorm) and get cracking post haste. But if you don’t want to commit to a four book series, feel free to grab this book and jump right the hell into the world Millar has created. If you go this route, you will find yourself seeking out the other books in the series. Either way, you will thank me later.

Highly Recommended.

Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.