Find You in the Dark by Nathan RipleyFind You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the Dark

byNathan Ripley

Paperback | March 6, 2018

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In this chilling debut thriller, in the vein of Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley, a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims catches the attention of a murderer prowling the streets of Seattle.

Martin Reese is obsessed with murder.

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and studying them in depth, using them as guides to find missing bodies. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results to the police anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs that cops have continuously failed to do.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious caller—the Finder, she names him—leading the police to the bodies. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who’s to say that he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom he never met. But when he arrives at the site, he finds a freshly killed body—a young and recently disappeared Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn buried his victims . . . and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work.

When a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder. Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape the killer’s trap, he may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever thought.
Title:Find You in the DarkFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:March 6, 2018Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501179039

ISBN - 13:9781501179037

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Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Just OK And interesting story line bu the writing did not grab me. Also had a little bit of a anticlimactic ending.
Date published: 2018-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Twisty and twisted! Martin is a bad, bad boy. Or he would be if he let his dark urges loose. Much like Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan, Martin has a dark passenger who would very much like to be set free to play and by play I of course mean murder. Luckily for the those around him before young Martin could begin satisfying his homicidal cravings he met a woman, had a child and became a family man. The urges remain so Martin channels his darkness into finding and digging up the bodies of serial killer victims. He takes lots of pictures of the remains to revel in later and is just a little too creepily into the bodies he unearths to be normal. It is clear that Martin is a psychopath always on the edge, letting a bit of steam off each time he finds a corpse. He doesn’t sound like the type of guy you would root for but, much like Dexter, he’s an anti-hero that grows on you and I really was cheering for him. The story was very unique and becomes a quite complicated cat-and-mouse game with Martin versus the police, Martin versus a serial killer, Martin versus various other jackasses. Martin has a very complicated life! This is definitely an edge-of-your seat, can’t–stop-turning-the-pages kind of thriller. It was exciting, unpredictable, twisty and twisted. If you like your suspense dark and your heroes even darker then this is the book for you. Thank you Atria Books for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Date published: 2018-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Solid Thriller A very interesting premise and an engaging writing style. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good enough. This book is marketed as being comparable to Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley. These are great tags to pull a reader like myself in, but you have to live up to your own hype. Once you get to know Martin Reese, the comparison of characters is there. Let’s see how the story holds up. Nathan Ripley has created a unique story arc. It has a lot of great twists and turns, with a couple of “I did not see that coming” moments. It was lacking a little something – something that would have kept me riveted to the pages. Perhaps it was where I was with my reading, but I felt familiar feelings with other books. Nothing stolen, by any means, just not unique enough. Find You in the Dark had an excellent cast of characters. They were all well developed and integral to the story, however, I lacked a connection to the protagonist. Martin Reese was rich, perceptive and intelligent, he was missing an idiosyncrasy/fatal flaw that I find helps me connect better with a protagonist who seems to have it all. In the end, I didn’t connect well enough with any of the characters. It dials down the suspense level when I don’t care who lives or dies. As a debut novel, Find You in the Dark was good enough. The writing was well done, it was just lacking certain elements that would bring the story up to the next level. Would I read a book by Nathan Ripley again? I’ll say yes, but with all of the great debuts I’ve read lately, he’s got a tough row to hoe. *I received a copy of the book from the publisher (via NetGalley).
Date published: 2018-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good mystery A few things didn't add up or seem plausible but overall good read, interesting storyline, would recommend.
Date published: 2018-04-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Thriller, Average Everything Else I received a copy of this book through NetGalley from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. There are so many murder mysteries out there these days that it almost seems like it's hard for someone to come up with something new and different. This was what immediately caught my attention about this particular book. I've heard lots of stories of people being fascinated by murders and such, but to go and dig up a bodies for fun? That's a new one (for me anyway. For all I know it has happened in other stories/on television). And all in all, the book was pretty good. It was an enjoyable read, I didn't have half a clue where it was going half of the time, and I rather enjoyed the main character and how he handled things throughout the story. It doesn't come across as a particularly realistic story, but that's what books are for, right? The Good Points of Find You In The Dark: I really enjoyed how the mystery progressed. It was a fun change of pace from your standard thriller, and I liked how it all came together in the end. It was a brilliant idea, and it was well executed in this book. I enjoyed the main character. He was ridiculous and an idiot most of the time, despite clearly being a smart dude, but that's part of the charm. Martin is designed in such a way that you're cool with the fact that he's so strange because it just fits everything you know about him so well. I felt the pacing was good. It could have gone a little faster without sacrificing anything, but it worked for this story, and didn't by any means feel slow or draggy.  The Downsides of Find You In The Dark: I do not believe for a single second that Martin could have done all of this for so long and gotten away without anyone thinking he was up to anything strange, which worked for the story but took away from the believability of it (and it's set in real world, so you need some aspect of believability). There's no way he could have hidden all that for so long. If nothing else, his kid would have snooped, because I have never met someone who didn't snoop in their parents' things as a kid/teen. His wife probably would have too, based on her presentation in the story. Not to mention his frequent camping trips and strange supplies. It was far too convenient, and it took away from the story. It would have been nice to see him work harder for it, and would have made for a better book. The multiple points of view worked for the story, but it would have been better if it had just fully been written in third person. Or just put it in one point of view. Either would have benefitted, because the changes were annoying and confusing. There's a whole lot of no character development in this book. Which can be fine for a thriller, but in this case, it resulted in me not caring whether whether anyone lived/died/got caught/whatever, because I didn't know enough about them to care. We get Martin's point of view, and I still didn't care about him. All in all, this is a good thriller, with a great ending, and lots of good twists and turns throughout. There were just some things throughout that left me unable to rate it any higher than three stars, and I'll be surprised if I remember what happened in this book in a couple of months time. If you enjoy twisted thrillers, unique murder mysteries, and rich protagonists, you should definitely check out Find You In The Dark!
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Thriller I've Read in Years So creepy and impossible to put down and full of sharp, insightful writing and inspired observations about the way people are. Read it!
Date published: 2018-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great thriller This book is a great twist on a thriller. Instead of following the life of a serial killer, it follows the life of a man who digs up the victims of serial killers. He then tells the police where to find them, but this eventually leads him into trouble. This unique plot made the story unpredictable. There were multiple narratives in the story. One was from Martin’s perspective, where he talked about finding the bodies. There was another narrative that followed the detectives who were investigating the man who dug up the graves as well as the original murders. And another narrative was about the man who pulled the strings behind the killers. The pacing of this book was great. There were major plot points that happened in each chapter that made me want to keep reading. It was hard to put this book down. I really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a unique thriller, this is the one for you.
Date published: 2018-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbingly Sinister Martin Reese has an unusual hobby. He finds the bodies of murder victims that have not yet been discovered. Using old case files for reference, he looks for seemingly random or unimportant clues that police working on the cases originally missed. He keeps photos of the bodies, along with detailed records of how he uncovered them, stored in his 'scrapbook', an old computer which is hidden away in a locked drawer in his house. Once he uncovers the remains he phones 911 anonymously on disposable cells, leading the police to where they are buried. Unfortunately for him, he has caught the attention of a serial killer who is not entirely happy with Martin's activities and is recently making those feelings known. Also hot on Martin's trail is police detective Sandra Whittal who believes he has escalated from being a 'finder' to a murderer. Martin and his wife Ellen appear to have a good marriage with arguments mainly revolving around her overprotectiveness of their daughter, Kylie. Ellen's sister Tinsley went missing twenty years ago and Ellen believes she was murdered. She's worried the same will happen to Kylie, so she sets heavy boundaries and rules for her. Martin looks specifically for female victims of serial killers in an attempt to find Tinsley and put his wife's mind to rest. The insight into Martin's personality is fascinating. There's a complexity to him as he conceals what he's doing from his wife and daughter to create some sort of balance within his life and family. He believes he is providing a public service for the victims’ loved ones. However, there might be another motivation that drives him other than providing closure and finding Tinsley's remains. Martin also has a history of secret impulses he's trying to suppress, so there could be an even deeper reason why he is digging up bodies. The dark and rainy streets of Seattle create the perfect backdrop for the narrative. Author Nathan Ripley conveys such a sense of unease, I was frequently looking over my shoulder as I was reading. Find You in the Dark is a disturbingly sinister novel with plenty of suspense, intriguing characters and a story that kept me riveted.
Date published: 2018-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dark, menacing, and gritty! Find You In The Dark is an engrossing, creepy thriller that delves into the sadistic and disturbing thoughts, motivations, and actions of serial killers and immerses you in all the manipulation, violence, murder, depravity, and pure evil they’re capable of. The prose is chilling and tight. The characterization is well done with a whole slew of characters that are flawed, vulnerable, and persistent. And the plot, told from multiple perspectives, is an exceptionally suspenseful, twisty, violent, tension-filled thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very first page. Overall, Find You In The Dark is a fast-paced, unique, ominous tale that reminds you that if you continually dance with the devil eventually you might get burned.
Date published: 2018-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great premise! Find You in the Dark is Nathan Ripley's debut novel - and if you like suspense fiction, its one you're going to want to pick up! The premise is deliciously dark....... Martin Reese is obsessed with serial killers, specifically with the victims not found. He's been buying up police reports for many years and has managed to locate (and dig up) the bodies they couldn't find. But, he's doing all of it anonymously and taunts the cops with a tip off of each new body located. Oh, and he takes only photos as souvenirs. Uh huh. He's been branded as The Finder by the cops. And it's all going along as it has for many years until.....you got it - a serial killer figures out who Martin is and what he's doing - and...... I know, I couldn't wait to start reading either! Martin knew something would happen eventually with his 'hobby', but "I didn't know yet that I'd made deeper mistakes I wouldn't ever be able to put all the way right." Martin didn't engage me as a person, rather I found myself observing him, somewhat dispassionately. Now, someone else is after The Finder as well. Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved this description of her...."She was thirty-two and lacked the penis that functioned as a skeleton key to acceptance, but she had the competence and could properly talk shit, which went a long way." Whittal is clever, dogged and determined. This is the character I really liked. Find You in the Dark is a delicious cat and mouse game. It is a plot driven novel, with numerous twists and turns and some great foreshadowing. Now, yes there are some moments in the plot that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but I quickly let them go and kept turning page after page. For this reader, Find You in the Dark was definitely an entertaining read. I look forward to Ripley's next book.(And you know, I think this book would make a great movie.)
Date published: 2018-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stay Up Late and be Scared Scary thriller, ohmygoodness can't-put-down book. OK, don't pick up this book if you want to get to bed early. I read parts of this book while sitting on an exercise bike and ended up pedaling really fast! It's that good that you will screw up your face in alarm, guaranteed. "Real" frightening people who are pushed to all kinds of limits in the "untruth" category.
Date published: 2018-02-25

Read from the Book

Prologue   Bella Greene left his apartment for what she knew was going to be the last time. He didn’t know that, would never believe his grip on Bella was so fragile after all the humiliations she’d gone through at his whim, but it was true. She wasn’t going back.      She was outside his apartment building, which she’d left without making eye contact with the concierge. He had a Stalin mustache that was always flecked with brown cigarillo fragments and leered at her when she buzzed up alone, once asking her, “How much?” Bella had spat on his desk, a nice thick gob on the marble. He’d laughed at her and wiped it up.      “Tell him when you go up, see if he believes you,” he’d said. Bella hadn’t bothered.      There was a dry fountain outside the building, turned off some arbitrary day toward the end of summer. Bella walked by it, picking up speed as she got farther from the building. When she was nine, her mom had caught her picking through the change in a fountain for the silver coins. She’d gotten a slap on the arm for that, in front of the other moms and Marianne, her best friend at the time, who betrayed her at the end of the fifth grade to hang out with Kelly Robinson, a tall girl whose parents had cable.      It was well past midnight, not much pedestrian traffic, but a slouching man coming out of a building identical to the one she’d just left smiled at her, and not just politely. Expectantly, like she had an offer for him.       “No,” Bella said, walking past. This was the problem: she’d never gotten to the point of effectively taking back from these guys who constantly wanted to grab from her. Something. Anything. For a while she’d liked the free drinks, then the free drugs, then she found that the longer she stayed around the clearer it was that neither was free. Especially the drugs.      That slouching guy was still following her. It had been half a block, Bella thought. He might just have been walking to his car, but there were eyes on her. She knew that. Had a sense for it. The guy upstairs, he was her first successful use: thought he was getting something out of her, some sort of bizarro sex challenge, but she was just pretending his pathetic desires and fantasies were extreme, going along with them as long as she felt she had to. Bella had needed a place to stay and someone stupid to talk to while she got free of it, the last piece of her old life: the people, the tapering grip of heroin, then methadone, even booze. She hadn’t had anything other than orange pekoe tea for three weeks. She’d shaken it—not just the stuff, but the life. She’d be in San Diego by the end of the week, out of Seattle and ready to invite her mom down for visits. Nice, normal, family visits, with none of the bullshit, the stealing. The lying.      Bella rolled the leaves of her silver bracelet on her arm and felt the eyes on her again, this time from her right. An alley, some sort of truck or big vehicle in the shadows. A man leaning on the fender.       “Keep looking,” Bella called out, walking on, before stopping and turning to face the guy again. He leaned his torso back, out of reach of the light, and laughed a little. Bella walked toward the alley.       “You get off on scaring women? You that kind of creep?” She came a step closer to the guy—he was wide across the chest, tall, his face still hidden. She didn’t expect him to be so fast. Guys that size never were.      There was a pain in her neck as he gripped her by the shoulder and his other hand whipped toward her throat, a feeling altogether unlike the punch she was expecting. Deeper than an insect sting, but the rush of injection afterward was profound, hot, almost calming. She’d never pierced that particular vein before.      Bella Greene didn’t fall to the pavement: the man caught her and lifted her backward, into the dark.   Chapter 1   Cleaning up the dig site took longer than usual, leaving me little time to sleep. I grabbed two hours in my tent and was on the highway to Seattle by four a.m., with a thermos of coffee and some of those legal speed-drinks truckers use. I would have been at the club an hour ago, if the traffic had cared about getting my daughter from swim practice on time as much as I did.      I checked the rearview to make sure I’d ditched every piece of my equipment, and that only camping gear was visible in the back. Nothing was sticking through. My scrapbook was under, not on top of, the backseat where Kylie would throw her gym bag. Looking for traces of dirt or worse on the fabric of the seats, I almost missed an old Camry turning illegally across my lane. I tapped then slammed my brakes, accepting the honks from behind me and kept going, finally pulling up at the curb.       “You’re late,” Kylie said, falling into the front seat and throwing her gym bag overhand into the backseat, nicking my eyelid with the strap. She waved out the open door at Danielle, or Ramona, or one of the other fourteen-year-old girls on her team—after practice, they all looked eerily identical, with their wet hair gathered and tucked into wool hats and their collars pulled up. Sliding her schoolbag to rest at her feet, Kylie looked hard at me. Driving to the Seattle Athletic Club at five in the morning for half the week and five in the afternoon for the rest of it is only sane behavior under very specific conditions. Vanity couldn’t have gotten me to do it. Love, probably not—not the wife-kind of love I had for Ellen, anyway. For Kylie, I did it, sometimes to my own surprise. I’d been late eight times in the past two years, and this was the ninth.      There was enough resemblance between us—the dark eyebrows, light blue eyes—and between her and Ellen—the narrow nose and the wide mouth, equally suited to smiling or abrupt dismissal—that getting stared down by Kylie was like being in trouble with my wife and confronting a disappointed reflection at the same time.       “Leave before anyone sees you, Dad. Screeching tires.”      I pulled out at normal speed, but got the message. “Sorry. I drove right here from the campsite. Would have cleaned up at a truck stop if I knew I was going to embarrass you.”       “Where were you again?”       “Place near Tacoma. Beautiful.” I had indeed registered and paid in full for a slot at a campsite in Kent, near Tacoma, setting up a small tent there before setting off for my drive to California, just to have a paper trail if I got asked later, by Ellen or anyone else. Anytime I went on a dig it was a cash-only affair. Usually I “forgot” my phone charger, letting that GPS tracker we all carry fade to a dead-battery flicker by the time I was a few miles from the city. Other times, when I knew Ellen would be calling me, I disabled anything that would make me trackable. Twenty years of working in tech had left me with a skill or two, not just a bunch of money.       “You’re late, and you stink,” said Kylie.       “You stink, too.”       “Chlorine isn’t a stink. It’s a scent.”       “I smell of pines and fresh air and the glory of the outdoors, not the stuff they put in a pool to neutralize pee.”       “You smell like unwashed old man, Dad.” She was looking at her phone, and I was looking at the road, but I could feel her holding laughs in, just like I was. For the last year or so, this was what getting along had sounded like: an enjoyable exchange of insults, not much meant by either party. I’d never picked her up right after a trip to the field, and I was surprised how quickly one responsibility synched into the next. Next to the part I played in making Kylie, my digs are the best thing I’ve done with my life. Nothing that has happened since I started looking and finding has ever shaken me in that belief.      At the end of our block, I asked Kylie something I should have asked her back at the pool so I could prep.       “How’s Mom? Things were good while I was away?”       “Noooope,” Kylie said, popping in her fourth piece of the near-flavorless natural gum Ellen bought by the case in an attempt to keep aspartame and sugar out of the family’s bloodstreams.       “Oh,” I said. Ellen’s car, a VW from last year, was approaching the house from the other side, the sun coming down behind it and beaming orange light through the back window to silhouette her head. I slowed down and let Ellen get into the garage long before I hit my blinker and turned in.      Ellen was waiting for us inside, a grocery bag in each hand and the leather strap of her purse in her mouth. While Kylie deliberately took her time getting her stuff together, I got out of the Jeep and walked over to Ellen, hopping up the two steps to the door that opened into our house, feeling the stiffness in my legs and arms from the strain of digging for hours and then sitting down for a long drive. I took both grocery bags from her and she keyed us inside.       “Am I in for another high-tension week?” I asked Ellen, being quiet even though Kylie was still sitting in the Jeep and likely would stay there until her mom and I were in the kitchen and she could safely bypass us both on her way to the upstairs shower.       “Oh, I didn’t realize the point of all of this was to minimize impact on you, Martin. Real sorry.” She smiled midway through telling me off and gave me a kiss.      Ellen wasn’t good at maintaining the exasperated spouse stance, even if she’d had plenty of time to practice. She’d stopped being my girlfriend and started being my wife eighteen years ago.       “You stink,” she said.       “Your wonderful daughter said the same thing.”       “We got in a small fight on Saturday. Should have been a mini one but we were both tired and it got out of hand. She wanted to sleep at Jhoti’s house after they went for dinner. The dinner was planned, the sleepover wasn’t, so I said no.”       “Firm no?” I started emptying out one of the paper bags item by item, avoiding the tomato sauce spatter and sticky milk-glass rings on the counter: the tidiness of the kitchen, in particular, tended to fall off when I was away in the woods. Ellen was watching me, so I just upended the bag and let the produce tumble out for sorting. I’m good at faking carefree.       “With sleepovers or late nights out, all my no’s to her are firm, Mart, you know that. I didn’t think I needed to bicker about it with her or you anymore. It’s just the way it is.”       “Yeah.” I slit a small plastic bag of plums open with my thumbnail, which still had a rim of dirt under its white crescent, a leftover from disposing of the dig tools. I was always thoroughly gloved-up when I was doing the actual work, never leaving any of my skin free to flake over or touch my finds. The fruit tumbled into a wooden bowl on the counter, covering up a shrinking, aged lime. “But I think we’ll all have to talk again about this, and soon. She’s hitting fifteen in what—five weeks?” Before Ellen could answer, I added, “You were totally in the right, stick with the plan this weekend—not that you need me to confirm. What we need to talk about is if we can be more flexible on future plans for her, not last-minute changes. She’s not a kid.”       “I was less worried when she was a kid,” Ellen said, without the half-smile that I guessed most parents would add. She could tamp her fears down, but the worry was always there, a pressing anxiety I could feel as a static pulse in the room when she didn’t know where Kylie was. She was stocking the fridge, still wearing the wet waterproof shell that transformed her upper body into a rumpled cylinder, disguising the combination of elegant dress and ultrafitness she’d moved toward after Kylie was born. I hadn’t given birth to any figure-destroying children, but was the proud, or at least unashamed, guardian of a healthy gut I bottle-fed with pilsner every evening.      I heard Kylie’s feet on the stairs and took the chance to dodge out. “I don’t know if that’s true, but I get what you’re saying. Going to unpack the Jeep,” I said. “You two play polite until I get back so we can all fight together, okay?”      The camping stuff I stowed in various places in the garage. I always returned lighter than I had left, because I ditched the digging gear, probes, and metal detector in various dumpsters on the way back, after carefully treating everything with solvents, bleaches, and other corrosives fierce enough to chew through the paint on steel and definitely to destroy any genetic traces. Anything I camped in or sweated in and brought back never came anywhere near the actual site of a dig; my focus when I was at work out there was absolute, but the rush of being right, of finding what I was looking for, could get so powerful I had to have a strict procedure on every dig. That meant setting up camp at least three miles away from each site, digging from early afternoon into dusk, going more gently when I thought I was near enough to bring out the brushes. I’d never broken anything yet, and I was proud of that. It showed respect.      The garage was peaceful, as quiet as the air around me last night, when all I could hear was the silvery chop of my shovel cutting into the dirt above the bones I knew I was about to find. I rehearsed a few lines in my head for the call to the cops I’d be making later that night; I’d been running a few variants on the drive back, testing out what they sounded like in my own voice, a voice I could never let the police hear.      I folded and buckled the last bit of tenting and was left with just the ticking sound of our car engines, mine finally relaxing after the long haul from Northern California that had left me more tired than I could ever explain to Ellen. A syrupy can of Red Bull from the flats of canned goods on the shelves above my stowed camping gear would have to do the work of wiring me up. I opened up the back door of the Jeep and slid out the big, mid-2000s Apple PowerBook I used as my scrapbook, safely cased in a padded canvas slip.      Inside, I took the scrapbook to my enormous desk at the end of the hall and unlocked the bottom drawer. Slipping the scrapbook inside, I fought a deep compulsion to flip it open.       “Can you check if the City Light payment went through?” Ellen called, her voice curving around the hall from the kitchen, where she was probably sitting on the counter eating one of the plums, or rooting around in the little clothes basket she kept in there for quick postwork changes into comfort wear.       “Look on your phone,” I called back, locking the drawer and testing it with a quick, light pull.       “I don’t trust the stupid app. Just do it, okay? And when were you planning to throw this lime out?”       “That’s your lime,” I said. “I thought you were holding onto it. Any limes I buy I put in the fridge, which is where limes belong.”       “Smartass,” she called, then lapsed into silence, waiting for me to actually enter the room to go on with the conversation. I wasn’t ready yet. Talking to Kylie could pull me back into the world rapidly after a dig, and it had, but I still needed a second of total peace to reset my brain to domestic mode, my internal parallel to Ellen’s change of clothes. My desk faced a blank wall that I wouldn’t allow any paintings or photos to invade. No distractions, just me and that huge block of oak with its four canyon-deep drawers. Only the bottom drawer stayed secure to keep my scrapbook from prying eyes. Not that there were any of those in the household, other than my own. Ellen wasn’t into snooping. She was as trustworthy in our home as she was behind her desk at the credit union, and it didn’t occur to Kylie that her dad’s business could contain anything of interest. I shut my eyes, got where I needed to be, then stood.       “You seen my phone charger, the kitchen one?” I said, rounding the corner.       “It’s in here, genius. The kitchen,” Ellen said while I fumbled the plug off the counter and into the socket. “You going to be cooking?” I could feel the gaze and turned to it. She’d worked a regular eight-hour day but looked more tired than I was.       “I’m not, and neither are you.” As my phone buzzed back to life I pressed it onto speaker and dialed the Szechuan place in the strip plaza a few blocks away, a place that mainly did takeout but delivered for us, because I tipped twenty bucks. “Salt and pepper squid, yeah, ginger beef—”       “Lemon chicken,” Kylie almost screamed from the top of the banister, with a desperation that even got her mother to forget they were fighting for a moment and laugh.       “Lemon chicken,” I said into the phone, pretty sure the guy on the other end had heard her anyway. Kylie thumped back into her room, and I turned to Ellen with a look on my face that must have been apologetic.       “What?”       “I’m going out tonight. Meeting Keith for a beer,” I said.       “Cop Keith? So you’re out camping for two days, you come back, and we lose you right away to the police?” This time there was a slight pout in her voice, but it was still miles away from real complaint. “We’ll have a good dinner and good talk, okay? And I have no plans of going anywhere for the rest of the week. Honestly, I’m pretty run down, but you know how Keith is. Feels like a bad idea to put off meeting him when he’s in one of his urgent moods.”       “I don’t feel like fighting with you and Kylie at the same time, so I’m going to pretend I’m fine with it until I actually feel that way.”       “I am sorry, Ellen, really.”      Ellen only knew about Keith at all because she’d spotted us having coffee a few years ago, across town from her work. She’d taken a half-day off to look for new curtains, and instead came across her husband having a nice midafternoon date with a policeman. I’d invented an elaborate but tight lie about meeting Keith in a long lineup at the post office one day: I talked him through various personal issues sometimes, in exchange for exciting cop-life stories. Ellen seemed to like the idea of me having a pal I helped out, since my social time was mostly spent with her, Kylie, or alone at home. Or in the woods.      I slid-walked over to her in my socks—we’d only put in the slick hardwood floors four months earlier, and I didn’t think I’d ever get sick of doing that Risky Business drift or rolling across the floor in my office chair when I got a beer or club soda from the fridge. When I reached Ellen, I pillowed my head on her shoulder and said, “Sorry.” She patted the back of my head, then gently pushed her fingertips against my forehead. Ellen always kept her own nails short, dispensing with what she called “manicure-bitch bullshit,” which she associated with a couple of loathed coworkers.       “Everyone will be in a much more forgiving mood if you take a shower. Immediately,” she said.       “Okay.” I took the stairs two at a time. Kylie’s bedroom door was closed, and a Drake song that had grown on me despite deep resistance pulsed through loud enough to be heard in the bathroom. I hummed and showered off the dirt and sweat, then took out as much of the muscle tension as I could with the high-pressure showerhead. When I came out the music was off and Kylie was standing at the head of the stairway.       “If you ever sing along to anything I love again, I’m going to move out,” she said.       “Be my guest. I’ll donate your trust fund to a chimp sanctuary if you do.”       “I love chimps.”       “It’s a deal, then, sure.”      Ellen was going for her purse, the delivery guy at the door, by the time we got downstairs. I pulled the wallet out of the inside pocket of my jacket, hanging on the rack by the door, and paid him off. He looked relieved to see me, the customary giver of the extra twenty.       “I was going to pay,” Ellen said when the door was closed. “I know, I just got there first.”       “I was going to give your stupid huge tip, too. I hate it when you’re fiddly about money stuff, Martin.” She’d pulled on a U of W sweater, one she’d owned since I met her in class back when we were both in college. She barely looked older than Kylie, adrift in the enormous garment. I could remember seeing that sweater for the first time, an October afternoon two decades ago, when I followed Ellen back to her apartment building from class after I found out who she was, who her sister was. The fabric was rich purple then, not the grayed-out blue it was now. I was a professional at following, back then—Ellen didn’t see me, even when I was directly across the street, or right behind her, close enough to pluck the scrunchie out of her hair if I wanted to.      I did want to, but I controlled myself. And it paid off. “Obviously you could have paid, I didn’t mean—”       “Don’t soothe me like a child, Mart.” She sighed, a short one, seemed to reorient herself. She did this sometimes, a sort of thinking-in-real-time thing that ran counter to the calculated way I had to do everything. I admired it. “Forget it. We have to talk about some bigger things this week. Along with whatever you want to float about Kylie, I need to talk to you about my career. I was going to do it tonight but I guess that’s not possible anymore.” We could hear Kylie clattering plates in the other room. She liked to undo the takeout containers and use them as the serving plates, but knew that when her mom or I dished out the food we used proper bowls. She set the takeout-table up much more quickly than she’d perform any other kitchen task.       “Yes. Soon. Whenever you want, just when I can give you my full attention.”      We sat down and started to eat, hard, the three of us. Kylie was refueling after a no doubt brutal swim practice, her coach screaming something about nationals and hustle no matter how far away they were. My heart rate was still up from the energy slugs and caffeine, and I needed the food to start flattening out again. Ellen chewed with quiet purpose, a little anger, and the suspense of the conversation we were about to have. I was going to start but Kylie did instead, with a little less elegance than I would have hoped.       “Mom still thinks I’m going to get murdered anytime I’m out of the house past ten.”       “Oh,” Ellen said, with an authentic pain that made Kylie wince, as her newly braces-free teeth nipped a piece of beef off her chopsticks. She’d been going for a fight, not an injury.       “Never say that again, Kylie. That would be past the line in any house, let alone this one,” I said.       “You’re right, Martin,” Ellen said. She’d put down her sticks, and looked like she was reaching for Kylie’s hand, then thought better of it and grabbed the bottle of Sriracha, making a red pool of the sauce at the edge of her plate. “I can’t believe you, Kylie. Yes, I do worry more than a normal mom would. I ask you to understand that, Kylie. My anxiety creeps up. And it’s not something pills can take care of. It’s a real leftover from a real thing that happened.”       “Tinsley,” Kylie said. Ellen had wanted to name Kylie after the vanished sister, but I’d asked her not to. It would just make things worse, I’d said, back when we found out she was pregnant, a little after I started ReeseTech and began digging seriously.       “Yes, Tinsley,” Ellen said. “Noises from the street talk to me when neither of you are here. Even when it’s totally quiet. I think about my sister, how strong and bulletproof she seemed, and then I think about you, and how no matter how strong I think you are or you think you are, there are men out there who want exactly that. A strong girl to hurt and crush and kill. I wonder if you get that.”      Kylie was quiet, so I winced for us both. I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt, but I hunched over my noodles, shoveling them in and listening closely. Ellen had never spoken this graphically about Tinsley to our daughter, at least not when I was around. At her most serious, Ellen could talk to you and make it seem like she was talking to herself, like you’d intruded on a truth she hadn’t intended to share.       “That fear I have when you’re out, when we haven’t planned where you are, when I don’t know where you are, Kylie? It’s a pretty legitimate way to feel, I think. Even if it was twenty years ago.” Ellen looked at me and I nodded, then looked at Kylie.      Twenty years. She had it right: next week would be the anniversary of Tinsley Schultz’s disappearance. I understood what Ellen lived with, the emotional intensity of her days and years after that vanishing. I still had my own leftovers to deal with when I saw a woman with a certain kind of hair or neck, or heard a laugh that had the right combination of unashamed enjoyment and elegance. I made a point of never looking for too long—I had to concentrate to make sure I never went back to the person I was in college, when I was following Ellen. But I kept every one of those impulses stored up for my digs.       “But we need to find a way that you can have a normal teenage life and that I can feel comfortable, is what your father is about to say, right, Martin?”       “I was gearing up for that. Look, can you two start eating so we can do this without knowing that the reward at the end is cold Chinese food?” This didn’t get a laugh, but there was a hairline crack in the tension, and chopsticks started moving again.       “The thing we need, all of us, is to talk in advance, premeditate, stay in touch. No last-minute plans for you, Kylie, and you have to make sure your phone is charged up and you text your mom back as quickly as you text Ramona back.”       “You can’t talk, Dad. We never hear from you when you’re out camping or whatever.”       “No one’s worried about me. We worry about you, okay?” “Yeah.”       “I’m not insane,” said Ellen. “Your aunt was kidnapped and murdered.” “We don’t know that,” I said.       “I do. I know that. She would never have left us without saying why, and she would have come back to us by now. I just fucking worry about my daughter, okay?” For a second Ellen seemed to have forgotten that said daughter was at the table, because she never swore in front of Kylie. “Mom. Mommy. I know. I just need to—we can organize it, I can make sure you know where I am when I’m not here. But someday I’ll be at college and then someday maybe in another city, so we have to start to find a way to make us both feel good about this, alright?”      Annoyed that Kylie had found a better way to put this than I had, but proud enough to mask it, I ate while they talked, checking my watch. I had an hour and ten. I was meeting Keith to get more files, ones he’d been hyping up for days as being the best ones yet. He said that every time, but I couldn’t resist being excited, anticipating what he’d have for me, who’d be inside those scanned pages. Ellen and Kylie were still talking when I left, about swimming, about a celebrity divorce, about an upcoming break from the rain, not about kidnapping and murder. Our greasy plates were still on the table, and my goodbyes were barely noticed.      I couldn’t stay patient about looking at my scrapbook any longer, though. I had to go back to my desk before I left. Leaving my family talking, I moved down the hallway, quietly keyed the drawer open and slid the scrapbook out. It powered up in a few seconds, the old software rustling to life, aided by the processor and the rest of the new parts I’d swapped into the machine, and I clicked open the ancient version of iPhoto where I’d dumped yesterday’s pictures before wiping my camera. I sat and rotated my chair so I could see both screen and kitchen doorway at once. It would just be a quick flip-through—I couldn’t allow myself to lose my grip on time, not with Kylie and Ellen so close by.      The first shot was of my shovel, as it always was, the blade of this tool I’d only use once before laying it to a dishonorable dumpster rest like its predecessors. My left hand had been just outside of the frame of this photo, gloved, ready to start, to seek her out in the earth that had hidden her for decades.      Then: the dig site unspoiled, if dirty with highway trash, shots of the markers I’d laid out, of the evidence of a small mound only a few feet away from where I’d estimated it would be from the case files. I looked up at the kitchen door and counted out five seconds with my right index finger on my left wrist, a trick I had to slow my pulse. I flicked through the rest of the pictures quicker, wanting to get to the end before the voices in the kitchen slowed and I had to stow the scrapbook and leave. I made it through the digging, the carefully arranged dirt, until I finally hit the first bone: an ulna, the thin forearm bone of a woman in her early twenties. The next few pictures uncovered the rest of her, showing how carefully I’d taken the dirt off her yesterday evening.  

Editorial Reviews

"Dark and disturbing, Find You in the Dark is a thriller that defies expectations, sporting an original premise and a truly unreliable protagonist."