Book Review: Dark Horizons

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I don’t always review fictional novels, including crime novels.  However, Dan Smith’s “Dark Horizons” will be that exception.  I had already read this book entirely through, before I decided to make it a subject of my next blog post.  The reason being, Mr. Smith, a British Author is one hell of a writer.  I can see why he would have won new writer awards.  So, I had decided to spend a small amount of money at Hastings to pick up a couple of books as a present for my upcoming birthday.  I visited the last chance bargain rack in Hastings itself and found this book as well as a Gooseberry Patch cookbook.  Total cost for both, over $6.00 inclusive of tax.  I don’t know who may have originally purchased “Dark Horizons,” it was slightly used when I got it.  But as anyone can see, the book was at a greatly discounted price from what it originally cost in the United Kingdom, £12.99.  Yeah, originally it was published in the United Kingdom.

Now for the book itself, the book’s protagonist is known as “Alex.”  His is the first person narrative throughout.  Alex discusses a particularly painful period in his life, with the lingering death of his mother from cancer.  Once she has died, Alex as a 25 year old single male, then “runs away” to Indonesia.  He wishes to start life over again, to find himself, and very regrettably meets up with the wrong crowd.  It starts with a bus crash, with many injured, dying or dead people.  Alex is among the injured, and describes being robbed of his watch and clothes by a native child.  Fortunately, he still has his money and passport.  He is then assisted by a young Australian woman, known only as “Domino.”  Only Domino isn’t who she originally presented herself as being.  As the story continues on its own timeline, Domino is a cheat, a drug addict and a willing murderess.  Surprisingly enough, she manages to care enough about Alex, to save his life twice.

Because Alex has no other family, Domino encourages him to meet the others of her criminal gang, who reside in a hillside community overlooking lake Toba.  Mr. Smith describes this lake in great detail, inclusive of its scenic landscape.  He also describes Alex’s encounters with the rest of the group, that go from “on particularly shaky grounds” to steadily deteriorating after that.  There is no specific time of reference as to when Alex will suddenly quit the group.  But there is a defining moment when he does so.  The American, known as “Michael” beats the crap out of him over a woman.  And further, Michael is one very dangerous dude to be around.  Alex has no problem leaving the group after this, and makes his way across Lake Toba to Samosir, which is a mostly tourist destination.

In the last couple of chapters of this book, Mr. Smith incorporates the actual terrorist incident in Bali within his book.  Once Alex learns about the bombing of a nightclub and sees who has become one of the victims, he goes in search of the one woman who has come to mean something to him.  But it isn’t Domino, it is Helena, a young woman from Sweden.  He finds her.

Obviously, I am not going to do a blow-by-blow account of this book.  I am however, going to recommend it for anyone who’d like to read it.  It is a riveting and suspense-filled book.  There is unquestionably coarse language.  There is unquestionably lurid scenes of violence.  I was not disappointed in the book that I bought.

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