The Darkness Hunter
Conquill Press, Sep 1 2015, $15.00
Senior St. Paul Homicide Detective Wendell Hudson, assisted by Detective John Santana, forensics specialists and the medical examiner, leads the investigation into the murder of seventeen year old Danielle Lonetree. The victim was found in a Hidden Falls Park shallow grave with a lock of her hair missing. Fifty yards from the corpse is an abandoned pickup truck that belongs to Clay Buck. Hudson turns the key left in the ignition, but the vehicle fails to turn over. The two cops visit Clay’s Uncle Youngblood who keeps locks of hair that he claims is a Sioux tradition to honor deceased loved ones. The ME informs them the vic was sexually assaulted. All signs point to her boyfriend, still missing Clay.
Santana looks into one of his retired partner Hudson’s cold cases; the murder of environmental engineer Sam Noor who was killed while working for opponents of silica mining. The detective uses the working premise that Noor’s death involved his finding evidence of the harm caused by silica mining that may outweigh the Select Sands’ claim this is a cleaner cheaper alternative to natural gas. Based on that assumption, Santana makes inquires; unaware that when he began, several personal threats will follow.
The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs, The Black Minute, Bad Weeds Never Die, Bone Shadows and Death's Way) is a fantastic mystery that grips readers from the opening at Hidden Falls Park and never loses its hold until the final confrontation. Filled with action yet also containing key cerebral moments throughout, Christopher Valen once again affirms he is one of the subgenre’s top guns.