Cover Image: The Dark Room

The Dark Room

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A huge thank you to Netgalley for letting me read this book.  I loved it. It was very well written,  with likeable characters &  greaf plot. I used to live in  Cork & it made me miss it!
Was this review helpful?
Caroline is an investigative reporter in New York, when she is threatened by a law suit & her boss does not seem to have her back she decides to take a break in her native Ireland. Rachel works in films getting locations & props. When her partner, Hunter ( a documentary maker)is knocked off his bike & their home is broken into, it seems the story of Alfie he was working on was the cause. The homeless man had links to a house in West Cork. Fearing for Rachel's safety he asks her to investigate the place, to try & find out who Alfie was whilst keeping her & Jasper the dog out of harms way. The two women hit is off straight away. They discover that Hare's Landing is a house of secrets.

This was a great story. There was a sprinkling of the supernatural, an old mystery & a not so old one. Rachel & Caroline were a great pair of characters & Jasper really was the cherry on top. I loved this one. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found this book to be quite long, but I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t mind at all. I loved the characters, especially Jasper the dog. The story was well crafted and full of twists and turns and I literally couldn’t put it down. If you like a good murder mystery with a bit of the supernatural thrown in you will not be disappointed. .
Was this review helpful?
I read this book over a weekend because it seems like a quick, addictive mystery novel. I’ve never read Sam Blake before so was pleased this was a stand-alone that would give me a insight into her writing, without starting a series. She was recommended to me by other bloggers so knew I would have to give this latest book a try. The book hinges on the mystery of an old house in West Cork. There are two female protagonists who for different reasons are drawn to a house called Hare’s Landing - a country house that was a retreat for the violinist Alfie Bows. Rachel works scouting locations for film and TV. A shock event leads her to Ireland. Her partner and documentary film maker Hunter is the victim of a hit and run. On the same day his camera and other equipment are stolen from the houseboat they’ve made their home. Alfie Bows was the subject of one of his documentaries and when he also disappears, Rachel knows there’s a link between all three events. She thinks she will get answers at Hare’s Landing, now a country hotel, so sets out to West Cork to investigate, 

There she meets Catherine Kelly, the only other guest in the hotel. She has retreated from NYC after a lawsuit led to her owing her job as a crime reporter. However she still can’t resist a story and when she hears about the suicide of the houses former owner Honoraria Smyth, she thinks the investigation may not be as cut and dried as it seems. The two women share the stories they are investigating, thanks to a lack of wi-Fi for entertainment and a terrifying housekeeper who could give Mrs Danvers a run for her money! Soon they realise, that someone doesn’t want them looking into either mystery. Caroline’s room is broken into and the villagers are hostile. 

The story is told in alternate chapters so each of the women narrate their bit, keeping us up to date on both of their investigative experiences and findings. It read like a cosy mystery and I enjoyed their rapport with each other. Their investigations depend on them finding evidence, a letter in one case and an invoice left in one of Alfie’s bags. Rachel came across as a stronger, more developed character than Caroline. Caroline’s past in NYC didn’t need to be explored because it bore no relation to the investigation. She also brings in a supernatural element that didn’t seem convincing. Towards the end of the novel the pace picked up and events take a much darker tone. When this happened the book really did pick up and I was glued to those final pages.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Netgalley and Atlantic Books for the advance copy.
The Dark Room is a stand-alone novel written by Sam Blake. The author's name may sound familiar: Sam has written a hugely popular series about Dublin-based Garda Cathy Connolly. 
This time, the plot takes away from Dublin to the atmospheric and creepy hotel in West Cork. However, the story begins in London, with a letter. Alfie Bow, a homeless man, fearfully posts a letter that is "his only chance" and, when it's received, "everything is changed". Alfie's charm and violin skills have captured the heart of Hunter, a filmmaker making a documentary about the homeless, who made Alfie his lead character. Unfortunately, Alfie goes missing and shortly after Hunter is a victim of a hit-and-run. 
Rachel, Hunter's partner and location scout, discovers that the houseboat that she and Hunter share was ransacked and all Hunter's cameras were stolen. She's expecting a visit from the police regarding the break-in. Instead, she learns about Hunter's accident. In the hospital, Hunter asks her to find out what happened to Alfie on his behalf. At this point, she starts to wonder if Alfie and Hunter's accidents were connected. Thanks to Hunter's tip, she takes and sets off to a hotel called Hare's Landing, the only place Alfie ever mentioned, hoping to avoid any potential danger and discover Alfie's past.
Meanwhile in New York, Caroline, an investigative crime reporter, faces a lawsuit and suspension. Needing some peace and quiet, she decides to retreat to the Irish countryside, and the Hare's Landing in West Cork looks like a perfect place for her to hide. Once she arrives, whether by her curiosity or force of the professional habit, Caroline finds herself drawn to the mystery surrounding the suicide of the hotel's former owner.
The paths of Rachel and Caroline intersect at the hotel. Hare's Landing and the neighbouring area were a fantastically eerie setting. The hotel's description and its gothic interiors were well written, and I relished discovering more about the house and its history. The sense of oncoming danger was palpable, especially during the events taking place at night. The most prominent feeling about Hare's Landing was isolation. Although there were people working in the hotel, the characters seemed very isolated. The fact there was barely any mobile phone reception to be found made this feature even more prominent.
As the only two guests at Hare's Landing, Rachel and Caroline are caught between a hostile housekeeper, little or no Wi-Fi or mobile reception, some prying locals, and Irish weather in January. Naturally, they gravitate to each other and share the respective mysteries searching for answers.
In the beginning, the narrative is alternating between Rachel and Caroline's perspectives. I knew that their plots would eventually join from the blurb, and I thoroughly enjoyed following their separate storylines. The story is focused on the plot more than the characters. I found neither of the two leads particularly compelling, but despite that, they have enough details and personality to make them interesting. 
Rachel brings in compassion and good nature, as well as a very clever side-kick. Her dog, Jasper, brings so much to this story, and it's great to see an animal having such an impact, rather than being just a token pet.
Caroline is very inquisitive, more proactive, and her journalist senses give her that extra edge. However, her sub-plot about the lawsuit and her work relationship with her boss does not end up being particularly relevant. As much as it gives her depth and colourful background, I'd love to see more to it. The one thing that annoyed me a bit was her supernatural theories. It felt more like an attempt to bring about the atmosphere than a quirk of the character.
I've found the secondary characters are strongly developed, and I appreciated what they bring with them. Hunter's determination to help Alfie was endearing and spoke volumes about the relationship they developed in a short time. Mrs Travers unwelcoming attitude gave an impression she's hiding something, while Imogen and Bronagh were the types of people who I'm usually drawn to during my hotel escapes. As for Malachi, I've found his association with Rachel just a bit too much of a coincidence.
The Dark Room is a highly plot-driven story, with a complex and captivating mystery that transcends past and present. I found the writing engaging and enjoyed the variety of plot lines. There was rarely a time when I was able to predict what's going to happen next. However, it can be easy to get lost in the strands of events. This is most obviously visible towards the end of the book. The gradual increase in pace and suspense was satisfying, but the finish felt a bit rushed, and I found myself looking for answers to one or two holes. 
When it comes to a classification - it reads more like a mixture between a cosy murder mystery and a thriller. I would certainly not classify it as a horror, and if this is what you're hoping for - you will probably end up disappointed. However, if you're into mysteries, investigations, and whodunnits - you may want to give this title a go; the writing, the setting, and the characters make it for a satisfying read, the pace is enjoyable and should keep you turning the pages, and the conclusion is decent regarding the main plot. Still, it may leave you longing for more.
Was this review helpful?
A newly renovated hotel in West Cork seems like the perfect getaway for Caroline Kelly and Rachel Lambert. Caroline is an expat reporter living in New York, returning to Ireland for the first time in years. Rachel is fleeing London for safety and seeking the identity of a homeless man who was killed in London. Rachel’s trusty sidekick, her dog Jasper makes up the rest of the cast of main characters in The Dark Room.

It was lovely to escape to the coast of West Cork and Hare’s Landing in my imagination, thanks to vivid descriptions from the author. I could see myself sipping a coffee in the lounge near the fire with the sounds of the wild Atlantic outside. The hotel’s frosty and controlling manager Mrs. Travers is reminiscent of good old Danny (Mrs. Danvers) from Rebecca. This old crone knows all the secrets of Hare House and is keeping them close to her chest.

The two women form a friendship and become embroiled in the mystery of Hare’s Landing. Eerie disturbances behind to display themselves, but is a supernatural force at work or is someone out to threaten Rachel and Caroline?

I loved the creepy elements wound through this mystery. These added a shadowy undertone to the story. This was intensified by the setting of a nearly empty hotel on the wild Atlantic coast in Winter.

My favourite part of the story is the relationship between Rachel and Caroline, both women are as confident and capable as each other. Though I’m not a dog person, Jasper added a warmth to the story.

The Dark Room is an easy to read, eerie and pacy thriller that engrossed me completely. I adored the setting and it put me in the middle of the story. The Dark Room is a perfect escape from reality, which is badly needed at the moment.
Was this review helpful?
We have two main POV’s in this book.

Caroline Kelly is New York crime reporter but is currently facing a lawsuit. She decides to go back to Ireland as She ends up in West Cork at Hare’s Landing. She starts to investigate the disappearance of a person who sent missing over thirty years ago there and the mysterious death of the Hare’s Landing former owner. Rachel is involved in films. Her partner was doing a program about homelessness but he is knocked over and their boathouse is broken into. One of the people involved in the program, Alfie, sudden deaths and he has links to Hare’s Landing. Rachel decides to there for own safety and found out about the ties Alfie had to Hare’s Landing. Rachel and Caroline release their investigates are intertwined and join forces to find out what happened but with certain people stop that from happening.

This was a excellent read.

I liked both Caroline and Rachel. I liked that we got a bit of background story of them both before we thrown into the main story of the book. They both were highly likeable characters and they made a excellent team.

The book had authentic crime read feel to it.  Crimes happen in the past and in the current timeline which leads to a few twists and turns. It also shows what people appear to be isn’t always true. 

I can’t forget to mentioned Jasper, Rachel’s dog. He was quite the character and was just as important character as Caroline and Rachel.

Overall I enjoyed this crime novel which is well written, with characters who are likeable and story that keeps going until the end.

I received a ARC from Netgalley and Atlantic Books for an objection review.
Was this review helpful?
The Dark Room was an intriguing, entertaining and atmospheric read which I really enjoyed.

Firstly the author does a great job setting the scene in this book and I loved the vivid descriptions of the hotel and it’s surroundings. I really want to visit Cork so I enjoyed learning more about it The hotel sounded amazing with all the beautiful rooms and antique furniture. It’s a place I feel I’d loved to walk around and explore in real life.

The characters were fabulous creations and I enjoyed following them throughout the book. I liked how the author gives the reader the chance to get to know the characters a bit before the story properly kicks off. I felt this helped me understand them a bit more and that I cared about what happened to them. Rachel and Caroline were a fantastic duo, whose conversations often made me laugh out loud. They soon felt like old friends and I had to keep reading to find out what happens to them.

Overall I thought this was a gripping read which pulled me into the story from the beginning with the intriguing quote that starts the story. It is a dark read in places but this is broken up with some funny and touching moments so it doesn’t get too scary. The spooky moments did make me jump at times though as they always seemed to happen when I was least expecting them. The plot goes along at a good pace with the many twists keeping me on my toes. I’m now very interested in reading more from this author in the future.

Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Kirsty for my copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
The Dark Room is an intriguing mystery that kept me guessing, however, I found it difficult to connect to the story. It was slow in parts - especially in the middle - and I felt like there was a lot going on.

I’m on the fence about the characters. Some were well fleshed out and felt like real people, however some seemed boring, lacking realistic elements, and I couldn’t connect with them. 

Overall, although intriguing, I did struggle to connect with the plot and characters. It was a lot more slow paced than other mystery books I’ve read. The Dark room isn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed reading this book.  It is a typical murder mystery book, with an added touch of gothic horror.  The book was suspenseful and captivating.  The characters were very well portrayed and overall this was a real page turner.
Was this review helpful?
I will admit I found The Dark Room by Sam Blake a slow starter and I wasn't too sure was it me and the frame of mind I was in. Needless to say five chapters in and I was completely engrossed.
Full of suspense and drama, I turned the pages at quite a fast pace.
Her characters I really enjoyed and the storyline itself superb.
The author created characters Rachel and Caroline who worked together becoming friends whilst trying to solve the mystery.
Hare's Landing had an air of mystery about it, spooky and dramatic almost..
Great idea to go back in time to try solve the mystery
Thoroughly enjoyed it being a standalone from this author..
I am on the blog tour for this one on 16th January so I will come back and post up my review and link then
Thank you for my copy, much appreciated and well done to author Sam Blake, a great story
Was this review helpful?
I think this is sort of like a cosy murder mystery 
Two women playing detective 
A dog 
A big mysterious hotel and grounds 
Characters  that appear sinister or mysterious  or both 
I liked the honesty and nods to Rebecca there .i did find it a bit plodding but kept reading,  just didn’t feel invested or overly drawn in to the mystery and found I was a bit apathetic and did find the use of quote marks being mimned by her character  very annoying ... which may ave been the intention  .i suspect the writer doesn’t like it in others  and with good effect I was annoyed .just was way too much 
ok story and easy read but not as dark a thriller as the title may suggest  though yes a hideous crime at its fore it’s a Cosy way of writing
Was this review helpful?
You definitely need your wits about you to keep up with this story! 

The story is told from the perspectives of Rachel, who has come to Hare’s landing for safety after her partner and their house boat are attacked, and Caroline, a journalist who comes for peace and quiet while a lawsuit is settled.

Neither woman expects to be caught up in a crime scene, but they are thrown together as a defective trio (with the wonderful Jasper the dog!). With Jasper’s help they uncover a web of crimes and disasters all of which seem linked to the original attacks that brought Rachel to visit. 

I felt more connection with Rachel than with Caroline, but both were strong characters. I loved Jasper the dog whose turned out to have a starring role! 

A dark and complex story, with several twists and turns.
Was this review helpful?
Rachel leaves London for her own safety and heads to Hare’s Landing Hotel in West Cork. Caroline is a successful crime reporter in New York but when she’s suspended she decides to take a break and finds herself returning to her native Ireland. She soon finds herself drawn into a thirty year old missing persons case and a mysterious death. Jointing forces with Rachel, they try to solve the crimes.

I found this book was a slow burner originally but two thirds of the way in, the pace really picked up. It’s a tense atmospheric thriller that I’m sure many will love. I’d rate this 3.5 stars but have rounded up to 4 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Atlantic Books and the author for the chance to review.
Was this review helpful?
A thirty year old murder mystery with a touch of the gothic. The story is mostly set in Ireland in a beautiful hotel called Hares Landing. Set in January the hotel only has one guest, Caroline a journalist from New York who is taking time off. Rachael and her dog Jasper then arrive. They are fleeing from London after her partner Hunter was nearly killed. The two women begin to delve into the tragic history of this beautiful hotel. Little do they realise what they are going to uncover, and that someone is trying to stop them. A new author for me and I love the way she tells a story. I loved the main characters and I feel as though I want to visit this beautiful hotel. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from this author. 
Thanks to Atlantic Books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A series of events in London, and New York result in two intrepid women arriving at Hares Landing in West Cork.  On the surface Rachel and Caroline have no connection to each other.  There is something brewing though and it is something dark.  I loved the complex cast of characters including Jasper a retired police dog, who would have a starring role if they made this book into a movie - which they should!
The themes of this book are so current and relatable and I found myself guessing and then realising that there was another twist and I was wrong again.  Homelessness, and the reason why, people and drug trafficking and corporate intrigue all come together to create a wonderful story that will keep you hooked and reaching to buy another Sam Blake thriller!  I am so glad to have discovered this author.
Was this review helpful?
This is a really good mystery thriller.  I loved the main characters especially Jasper the lead dog.  Dog loving aside he actually played a really good and relevant role within the story.  The story is cleverly woven together and keeps you guessing right up until the end.  It is a well paced book with a story that keeps moving and evolving to keep you interested.  The story wasn’t as edgy or as atmospheric as I thought it might be but this didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all in fact it was quite nice to just go with the flow of the story and enjoy total escapism.
Was this review helpful?
This novel showcases everything I love about a Sam Blake book - intriguing plot, intricate descriptions  and intelligent women as protagonists.
The story centres on Caroline, a journalist from America who has gone to Hare's Landing in Ireland to escape her work problems. While she is staying there she meets the other main character, Rachel who is searching for information about a homeless man her partner had been filming for a documentary. Both women become friends as they work together to discover Hare's Landing is hiding many secrets and surprises.
A wonderfully detailed, descriptive and atmospheric book that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.
Was this review helpful?
This was a great read, enjoyed it thoroughly, great storyline and loads of twists and turns , highly recommend this book x
Was this review helpful?
Atmospheric, Dark And Sinister....
Atmospheric and immersive suspense. Two completely different journeys take both Caroline and Rachel separately to Hare’s Landing, West Cork. Not is all as it seems and the pair discover that their seemingly very different quests may be intertwined. Atmospheric and twisting with dark and sinister overtones. Compelling reading.
Was this review helpful?