I first stumbled upon mystery novelist, Christopher Valen, when I won my first John Santana Novel. His latest, The Darkness Hunter, is the sixth I have read, and if I am not mistaken, the sixth written. So I think it is fair to say I have read, and own, a complete set to date.
I loved how this book got started. Kicks off with Homicide Detective John Santana on scene of a murdered young woman. 17 year old Danielle Lonetree was discovered in a shallow grave. The boyfriend, Clay Buck, left his disabled van parked nearby. All the evidence gathered are glaring clues that point directly at Buck. Working the case with Wendell Hudson, his partner things go from simple to complicated fast.
Months later, after Detective Hudson’s retirement, Santana is assigned look into an unsolved cold case. Sam Noor was hired by an environmental group opposed to silica mining. He was murdered. No one was ever arrested for the crime. Santana’s investigation uncovers plenty of leads. Select Sands is the main company buying up land for mining. The benefits will rival natural gas as utility. But there are negative aspects to the mining as well. That was what Noor was searching for. If Noor’s snooping turned up anything negative about the company . . . the snooping could have cost him his life.
To make the case more intriguing, Santana’s old partner, Hudson, was the initial investigator. And even more than that, Clay Buck’s sister, Carrie, and uncle, Youngblood, are tied into the mix with the environmental group Noor worked for. Family ties, big money, and past secrets kept me turning pages. I devoured the book in two sittings. Each Santana novel just gets better, and better.
Christopher Valen is where it is at when it comes to police procedural thrillers. The mysteries are complicated, but believable. The characters are well drawn and realistic. The dialogue and action is crisp and intense. I highly recommend The Darkness Hunter and Christopher Valen to anyone looking for a solid mystery novel. I know I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment!