Dark Harbor by David Hosp

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Dark Harbor showcases a superb new talent. Following in the footsteps of bestselling writers David Baldacci, John Grisham, and Scott Turow, David Hosp is an attorney living in the city where his book is set, and he imbues his story with unique authenticity.

Like heralded bestsellers by Dennis Lehane, Dark Harbor shows Boston’s many aspects, from the gilded salons of the Bay State’s power brokers to the dark nesting places of its career criminals.

 Not since the days when the Boston Strangler prowled his way across Beacon Hill had a singular fear so titillated New Englanders.

Everything in this book is predictable – the plot, the dialogue, who lives, who dies, good guys, bad guys. The major “twist” in this book occurs halfway in – not in a good Raymond Chandler way, more in an “I saw this 150 pages ago” way – and the “solution/resolution” plods along for another 200+ pages. There are also a multitude of scenes in this book that are not only irrelevant but force the reader to remove him or herself from any concept of reality.

Dark Harbor takes place in the gritty Boston of Dennis Lehane, with all the sense of depth and conspiracy of James Ellroy. A woman, Natalie, is murdered and is considered to be the 7th victim of a serial killer. Investigations into the case show that there is much more to it than it meets the eye.

What d’ya got?” she shouted to the officer as she got out of her car.

“Dead woman,” the officer replied. He sounded nervous. “She’s right over here at the edge of the water.”

Scott Finn, the lawyer and the friend of the deceased who was last seen with her before her murder, becomes the prime suspect.

Throw some Grisham into the equation and this is the novel that remains. In fact, there are too many elements that seem familiar; however, David Hosp keeps the plot moving and seamlessly ties together all the characters and events, so it never drags or seems repetitive. I had to skim most of what I read. I just could not get into the story at all. Nor could I get into the characters. 

Occasionally, Hosp’s clumsiness with key details–and the attempt to drop red herrings–are obvious and telegraph the reader that s/he is being manipulated. The inclusion of too-helpful friends and colleagues, along with Finn’s own loose lips about crucial information, are the marks of an inexperienced author trying to control outcomes.

Pro: Good descriptions of Boston and the surrounding areas. When it comes to serial killers most people know the Miami zones where Dexter Morgan used to roam.

Boston was in its full glory that evening. Summer was yielding grudgingly to autumn as September matured, and the sun no longer baked the city’s inhabitants mercilessly. Now it bit through the crisp, clean air at the tourists thronging Quincy Market and strolling past the ubiquitous statues evoking Boston’s revolutionary past.

The scenes are also nicely described:

It was nearing seven-thirty, and the sun had set to the west of the city, the glow on the horizon in that direction fading to light purple, then to blue, then to black in the east. It was the time of day and time of year Finn liked best. He could feel the wave of barometric pressure cresting and readying itself to crash upon the land, making way for the crisp, clean air of the fall. It felt like everything was coming to a head, and the world was preparing itself for a rebirth. 

Cons: Book is a drag. Absolute horror to get through and insipid at best. The “whodunnit” is solved towards the middle of the book and anyone with half a brain can find it out.

“I can’t believe we’re the first people to figure all this out.” We’re not, Finn thought. 

As cop thriller go, this is very much filled with clichés.  I was irritated about is how all of the women are described in relation to how attractive they are to the male characters

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