It looks like a traffic accident involving a truck and a passenger car on a rainy night. Three people have died in the crash and resulting fire. Tragic but not unusual – except one of the people in the car, an elderly man, was already dead before the accident. He’d been smothered.
DCI Brendan Moran, still recovering from his last experience with criminals (The Enemy Inside), looks to be a sideline role in the investigation. Except the lead, DI Charlie Pepper, has to go to Scotland to coordinate with police there on what looks like similar deaths of elderly men. While she’s gone, Moran takes charge of the Thames Valley investigation.
It’s an investigation where nothing is straightforward. No witness seems to want to tell the full truth, at least all at once. The truck driver turned out to be from Rotterdam, and evidence recovered includes a gun underneath his seat, traces of the explosive Semtex, and a partially destroyed credit card bearing the name of the government agent who disappeared in The Enemy Inside. Moran uses his weekend off to go to Amsterdam, unaware that one of his own policeman is being compromised by similar government agents. Or is it the Russians?
When Stars Grow Dark is the seventh in the DCI Brendan Moran stories by British author Scott Hunter, and it’s a non-stop roll of mischief, lying, mayhem, deception, and murder.
The “Irish Detective” series includes Black December, Creatures of Dust, Death Walks Behind You, A Crime for All Seasons, Silent as the Dead, Gone Too Soon, The Enemy Inside, When Stars Grow Dark, and The Cold Light of Death. Hunter has also published the novels The Trespass, The Ley Lines of Lushbury, Long Goodbyes, and The Serpent & the Slave, and the memoir Rattle and Drum. In addition to writing fiction, Hunter is an IT consultant and musician. He lives with his family in England.
It helps to have read The Enemy Inside, the sixth story in the series, before tackling When Stars Grow Dark (advice that the author includes at the beginning). It’s a grand sweep of a story, stretching from Scotland and England to the Netherlands and involving government agents and serial killers. Hunter ties it all together into one satisfying mystery novel.