A Mark Beamon Thriller by Kyle Mills
Review: A biological weapon threatens the world's oil supply in Darkness Falls, the fifth Mark Beamon thriller by Kyle Mills. Unfortunately, execution on this intriguing premise is so poor that that any credibility in the plot vanishes along with the reader's interest long before the anti-climatic conclusion.
The plot outline is simple and rather compelling: a bioengineered bacteria, similar to that used to clean up oil spills, is created by an environmentalist determined to save the world from itself (someone also known popularly as an ecoterrorist), which is then introduced into a supply of crude oil, contaminating the raw material and making it unsuitable for refining into usable energy products. The world's leading expert in this field is tapped to identify the source of the contaminant and stop its spread before it's too late.
Inexplicably, Mills takes this promising story and populates it with characters that are such extreme caricatures it is hard to take any of them seriously. (Mark Beamon, the recurring character in this series, is relegated to a minor role here that's completely overshadowed by others.) Erin Neal is a brilliant scientist who has retreated to self-sufficient solitude in the desert after antagonizing virtually everyone of any importance with his opinions on the state of the world's energy supply and use; environmentalists, capitalists, scientists, politicians, and anyone else in his path (including the reader). Jenna Kalin, Erin's presumed dead but just in hiding ex-girlfriend, is a self-serving moderate ecoterrorist who has adapted an oil-consuming bacteria to work in the oxygen-deprived depths of ANWR in Alaska. She doesn't care if the rest of the world destroys their own landscape as long as they leave what she considers hers untouched. Michael Teague is a radical ecoterrorist determined to destroy modern civilization in order to save the planet … as long as he can assure himself a comfortable spot in the new world order. And a whole cast of government officials who are portrayed as (typically) incompetent.
To make matters worse, far worse, the author introduces a sappy love story between the two principal characters (Jenna and Erin) that would be comical (think Lucy and Desi here; the parallels are so true they're striking) if it weren't so tragically bad. Despite the potential for global chaos, and the fact that they have the expertise to help, Jenna and Erin refuse to cooperate with the authorities because they are concerned they might implicate each other in the original outbreak. In the end, of course, they go skipping down the yellow brick road together which is appropriate since they are primarily responsible for there being no oil available for paving streets.
In the hands of an adept screenwriter, Darkness Falls has the potential to be an interesting, topical movie. And maybe that's where Mills went wrong here: he was thinking more about creating blockbuster visuals with one-dimensional characters for a viewing audience rather than crafting a thoughtful suspense story with three-dimensional characters for a reading one.
Acknowledgment: Meryl L. Moss Media Relations provided an ARC of Darkness Falls for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Lords of Corruption
Vanguard Press (Hardcover), March 2009
ISBN-13: 9781593154998; ISBN-10: 1593154992
Location(s) referenced in Darkness Falls: Arizona, Washington DC, Saudi Arabia, Canada
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Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills — A Mark Beamon Thriller
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Publication Date: November 2007
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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