Dallas Mullican arrived in 2015 with his debut novel ‘A Coin for Charon’ – a dark police procedural tale that introduced the world to Marlowe Gentry. This area of fiction is very crowded, so it’s important that if you are going to write in that genre you are able to deliver the goods. Joe Nesbo, Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell are all authors whose books grace my shelves. Some of my favourite novels of the past ten years have come from these writers-particularly the Harry Hole books from Nesbo.
I made a few comparisons to Nesbo’s Harry Hole with Mullican’s first novel. With ‘The Dark Age’ Dallas Mullican has breathed new life into his protagonist, Marlowe Gentry by showing us more of his human side and the relationships he has with his team members. ‘The Dark Age’ is the story of a man who has lost his faith in God and goes on a brutal killing spree, torturing and maiming people linked with the church in a plan that will ultimately see him come face-to-face with God himself (or, so he believes). The introduction of a new unit for Marlowe to manage and a new character in Kline keep things fresh and the exploration of the character Spence (Marlowe’s partner) are most welcome. As with the first novel there are some stomach churning scenes. These scenes are imperative to the narrative and are not simply thrown in there for shock value. I felt this book took a little longer to get going, but it was important in understanding the killers motivations. Marlowe has other problems outside of the murders (don’t we all?) but I will let you read and find out about these for yourself.
For me, it was always going to be a difficult task to follow up such a accomplished and well-written debut but Mullican manages to pull it off……just. I really enjoyed this, particularly the second half of the book where the pacing seemed to settle down a little more. I’d compare these two books written by Mullican to the classic Metallica albums ‘Master of Puppets’ and Ride the Lightning’……’Master of Puppets’ (‘A Coin for Charon’) has always been and always will be my favourite but sometimes I listen to ‘Ride the Lightning’ and say ‘Dang, this is actually the best Metallica album’
Putting my metaphors aside for a moment-this is another excellent book. It just goes to show that there are some incredibly talented writers out there and you don’t always have to go see the ‘Big 5’ publishers to get your writing kicks. Dallas Mullican is a class act. Big pressure now though to deliver with Marlowe book 3! Highly recommended.
You can pick up a copy of ‘The Dark Age’ from here.
I would recommend reading ‘A Coin for Charon’ first, although it is not essential.