#BookReview: THE DARKEST PLACE by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks

The Darkest PlacePublication: 20th September 2018 – Quercus

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .


Never title was more apt to the setting of a novel. This novel by Jo Spain featuring DCI Tom Reynolds and his team investigating a 40-year-old murder is set in a closed-down psychiatric hospital on a remote island that with its secrets and dark halls really gave me the chills and kept me glued to the pages.

The novel starts on Christmas Day and a woman is still hoping for her husband Conrad to knock on the door, after disappearing 40 years earlier, but what she receives is the call she’s been dreading. In another house, DCI Tom Reynolds is trying to enjoying Christmas with his family and trying to forget the last stressful months when he receives a call from his boss: a mass grave full of bodies has been found by St. Christina’s, an abandoned mental institution on the island of Oileán na Caillte. However, that’s not the most disturbing thing. The police is interested because among the bodies of the patients of the hospital, the body of doctor Conrad, who disappeared on Christmas Eve 40 years earlier, has been found and it’s clearly a murder. DCI Reynolds and his team travel to the hospital to try to figure out what happened to the doctor and the secrets that St. Christina’s holds.

I have been a fan of Jo Spain for a while now and I am captivated by her twisty plots, her well-developed characters, and her flawless and brilliant writing style. The Darkest Place is a particularly gripping story, with many surprises and twists and a claustrophobic atmosphere that gave me the chills. For some reason, remote islands are my favourite settings in crime stories and Oileán na Caillte is a fantastic place where to set a thriller: hard to access, bad weather, and few residents, all of them hiding something, and a mental institution full of horrifying story that really gave me goosebumps.

Gripping, compelling, and dark, this is another fantastic story by a great author who keeps churning out amazing novels.

A huge thank you to Quercus and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.


ImmagineJo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking RTE television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

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