The Inside Dark
Five days ago, aspiring crime novelist Jason Swike awoke chained to the wall of a run-down horse stable, convinced he would soon die at the hands of Crackerjack, the infamous serial killer who had terrorized the residents of Massachusetts for the past year—capturing and tormenting men, painting whimsical designs on their faces before shattering their bones and ending their lives. Just when death seems inevitable, Jason, with the help of another captive, manages to kill the madman and escape.Hailed as a hero, Jason reaps the benefits of his newfound fame: a book deal, a possible reconciliation with his estranged wife, and reward money he can use to pay for his son’s costly medical treatments. But he soon realizes the nightmare that began in the deserted stable is far from over, as he is drawn into a twisted game where the darkest terror may not be the psychopath manipulating his every move, but what Jason may have to do to survive…

The Inside Dark Details

TitleThe Inside Dark
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 11th, 2017
PublisherThomas & Mercer
ISBN1477819908
ISBN-139781477819906
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Mystery

The Inside Dark Review

  • Sarah Joint
    July 18, 2017
    When you begin this book, there will be a part where you think you realize where it's going... and you may be right. But what happens next will likely throw you for a loop. This is a nail-biter, and a fantastic introduction (for me) to this author. My rating is a 4.5, bumped up to a 5. It came very close. It's a very twisted tale. It's the best book I've read recently, very clever and unbelievably unnerving and twisted.James has spent five days shackled to a wall in a barn. No food. Just a singl When you begin this book, there will be a part where you think you realize where it's going... and you may be right. But what happens next will likely throw you for a loop. This is a nail-biter, and a fantastic introduction (for me) to this author. My rating is a 4.5, bumped up to a 5. It came very close. It's a very twisted tale. It's the best book I've read recently, very clever and unbelievably unnerving and twisted.James has spent five days shackled to a wall in a barn. No food. Just a single bottle of water left for him every day. He hasn't seen the man that's taken him, and the drugs he put in the water are making him confused and exhausted... but he knows who he is. He's Crackerjack, a serial killer who has become famous around these parts. This psycho kidnaps and murders men, leaving them with multiple broken bones and a painted face. How whimsical. The killer seems to appreciate his moniker... Jason listens, terrified, as he hums "take me out to the ballgame" as he brutalizes another man in the barn. He knows he's next. His time has come.Or at least... a time has come. Two men topple into his stall, directly on top of him. A man named Ian managed to get the upper hand with Crackerjack, but he's spent. It's up to James to finish the job... and he does. The two men are considered local heroes. Ian doesn't welcome it, but James figures out how to use it to his advantage. He's a struggling crime fiction writer... He's written about crazies like Crackerjack before. A real account of defeating a serial killer would sell millions. It may even bring the wife he's separated from back into his arms and help pay for medicine his special needs son desperately needs. One couldn't blame him for selling his story, or maybe even adding a little extra to it... could they?As it turns out, his troubles are far from over. While he sees huge paydays and his family coming together again in his future, his future may hold nothing at all... because the terror is far from over. To save himself, he might have to do some terrible, unforgivable things...I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Thomas & Mercer, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
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  • Kathi Defranc
    July 21, 2017
    A very interesting psychological thriller, with a pure sociopath thinking he needs to kill,with someone else watching,to feed the evil inside of him. This will keep the 'pain' away for awhile, when it starts again it is time for another gruesome killing...This story reels you in immediately,I just started to read to check how it goes and could not put the book down! There are some parts that are far-fetched, but the story and the feelings it gives you roll along. It comes down to what would you A very interesting psychological thriller, with a pure sociopath thinking he needs to kill,with someone else watching,to feed the evil inside of him. This will keep the 'pain' away for awhile, when it starts again it is time for another gruesome killing...This story reels you in immediately,I just started to read to check how it goes and could not put the book down! There are some parts that are far-fetched, but the story and the feelings it gives you roll along. It comes down to what would you do, just how far would you go to keep yourself or your family alive? The 'inside dark' is in our killer, is there any in you?...I received a copy of this story and am able to give m honest review, with thanks to Netgalley, the author James Hankins and the publisher Thomas and Mercer.
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  • Judy Collins
    May 1, 2017
    Acclaimed author, James Hankins returns following The Prettiest One (2016) with his latest edgy psychological crime thriller, with gruesome evil secrets of the past —THE INSIDE DARK. Top 20 Summer Books Coming July. Psychologically rich, taut, fast-paced suspense, with twists around every corner, Hawkins will keep you guessing until the final conclusion. What drives a person to kill?Set in the Boston area, Jason Swike, is a crime, mystery, suspense novelist – married to Sophie with a six-y Acclaimed author, James Hankins returns following The Prettiest One (2016) with his latest edgy psychological crime thriller, with gruesome evil secrets of the past —THE INSIDE DARK. Top 20 Summer Books Coming July. Psychologically rich, taut, fast-paced suspense, with twists around every corner, Hawkins will keep you guessing until the final conclusion. What drives a person to kill?Set in the Boston area, Jason Swike, is a crime, mystery, suspense novelist – married to Sophie with a six-year-old son, Max (Down syndrome and blood disease). There was a car accident leaving her in a wheelchair, and the couple (separated/estranged for two years). As the novel opens Jason has been chained to the wall of an old horse corral in a deserted ramshackle stable. He was given no food, and only water, mixed with drugs. When would death arrive? Death enjoys what it does. Death likes to whistle while it works.“Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.” Death has a name. Headlines. The most feared in Massachusetts. The media had dubbed Death’s latest human incarnation, Crackerjack—because serial killers with catchy monikers grab more viewers and sell more papers than ordinary killers do. Crackerjack broke bones—cracked, snapped, twisted, or crushed. Then the final death blow. Death has a humor . . .Three strikes you’re out. Crackerjack had clearly taken his media-given nickname to heart. Death had an odd sense of whimsy.In addition to broken bones, all his victims had been found with their faces adorned with skillfully rendered designs, like those you pay for at an amusement park or carnival. From superheroes, fairies, wild animals, and cartoon characters.Soon death would come whistling for him. Jason learns he is not alone in the stable. There is another man being tortured. Ian Cobb. He hears the whistling and knew Death would come for the other man, Ian. Then he would be next. The last sound heard by his victims. During the torture, he could hear the pleading for him to help. He had to help him. Soon the struggle stumbled into his stall. A life-and-death struggle with a serial killer, taking place literally on top of him.With the help of Cobb, Jason takes down Crackerjack, (Wallace Barton) the sadistic serial killer who whistled as he tortured his victims. Cobb even had the similar face painted design. Jason had killed him with the hammer (the final blow), but it was self-defense. He had struck him three times. Soon there is much success for Jason. He is a hero. They were both lucky. Jason got away without a scratch; however, not Cobb. Why did CrackerJack keep Jason around longer? Briggs is the homicide detective. Jason and Ian were the only ones which had escaped the serial killer. There were six bodies buried in the woods behind the serial killers stable bringing the total to sixteen. Briggs is suspicious of Jason’s story. Something does not add up.Soon Jason enjoys the limelight and his book sales soar. In less than forty hours he had a six-figure offer in hand from a major publisher for a non-fiction book about Jason’s ordeal and his eventual escape. Then were two Hollywood producers. Life is good. What if he stretched the truth, embellished a bit— just to get the job done. Would it be so wrong to lie a little? He had a wife in a wheelchair from a car accident (which he was to blame), and a son with expensive medical needs. Jason needed to lie a little during the TV interview. He needed book sales. His family had medical needs and he needed to win them back. Cobb takes a backseat. Cobb takes care of his elderly father at home. He owns a plumbing business which his father had started and he had shared with his brother John until his death. Half of his income went to nursing care, doctor visits, medical supplies, and equipment. What is Cobb hiding? Ian gives up his part of the reward to Jason. However, Jason soon learns all this comes with strings. Both men had been taken from an empty parking lot and drugged. Both have family medical problems and a tragic past. Then later his nightmare begins once again. He hears the whistling again . . . Did he kill the real killer? Was there a copycat? Is the real killer still out there? More bodies surface. Jason has some secrets of his own. He desperately needs the money, with his own son’s medical needs with a rare blood disease (aHUS) and the possibility of facing a future of dialysis and even kidney transplants. His care is costly. Cobb also has a creepy disturbing past which shapes his life. Each is blaming someone else in their lives for their behavior. Both these men have some things in common (both suffered catastrophes) and Detective Lamar Briggs knows something is not right and will not stop until he gets answers. Jason is worried about his own family. If the killer is still at large, he needs to hire his own hit man. How far will Swike go to sell books, and to resuscitate a drowning career as a crime writer? He cannot let the killer get to him and his family. Two different car accidents trigger a dangerous chain of events. Jason is drawn into a twisted game while the psychopath killer is pulling all the strings. Time to let The Inside Dark out . . .From an abandoned horse stable to a motel. A nightmarish journey of madness, evil, to sadistic—a cleverly written twisty, tense, suspenseful creepy thriller!This crackerjack suspense hits a home run!An avid fan of talented Hawkins, from his first book to this latest, have enjoyed immensely his writing crossing many genres. Each book is unique— from mystery, suspense, crime, and psychological thrillers.For fans of Jennifer Hillier, Lisa Unger, and Paul Cleave (other favorites). The author knows creepy, torture, revenge, and twisted minds. THE INSIDE DARK is a "must read" terrifying cat-and-mouse game. Wickedly evil for your summer reading pleasure. If you have not read James Hankins, what are you waiting for? Currently listening to the audiobook (an engaging performance) by Bon Shaw. Read my reviews: The Prettiest One Shady Cross ( Top 50 Books of 2015 ) Brothers and Bones Drawn Jack of Spades A special thank you to Thomas and Mercer and NetGalley for an early reading copy. JDCMustReadBooks
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  • Malina Skrobosinski
    May 31, 2017
    I received an advanced copy of this novel from NetGalley for my honest review.James Hankins, The Prettiest One was the first novel I ever received from Kindle First, from that moment on, I fell in love with James Hankins writing. He's a captivating storyteller; from the first page, you become hooked. At the start of The Inside Dark we discover that Jason Swike, a published author and family man, is chained to a stable wall. He's been held captive for four days without food, and barely any water. I received an advanced copy of this novel from NetGalley for my honest review.James Hankins, The Prettiest One was the first novel I ever received from Kindle First, from that moment on, I fell in love with James Hankins writing. He's a captivating storyteller; from the first page, you become hooked. At the start of The Inside Dark we discover that Jason Swike, a published author and family man, is chained to a stable wall. He's been held captive for four days without food, and barely any water... water that has been drugged to keep Jason submissive. Jason soon realizes that his captor is none other than the notorious Crackerjack; a serial killer who is known for killing his victims by breaking several of their bones and painting their faces and then leaving them in a ditch to be discovered. Jason discovers he's not alone, in the stable next to him is Ian Cobb, a local plumber. Ian and Jason strike up a conversation, but Jason can barely stay awake, the lack of food, dehydration, and drugs have left him so tired and barely able to focus. As Jason slumps to the stable floor he hears it... the whistling. He now knows that Crackerjack is back. He hears a whack and then a scream of pain and terror. He realizes, his new friend Ian is not going to survive this ordeal, and with that, neither would he. Jason soon drifts off, but he is suddenly awoken by two men who come crashing into his stable and falling on top of him. As Jason begins to regain focus on the situation he hears a man pleading for help. Jason realizes it's Ian, he's still alive, but how? A struggle ensues and Jason manages to come to the rescue by killing Crackerjack with several blows to the head with a hammer. Jason and Ian have escaped the notorious serial killer Crackerjack. The are dubbed local heroes by the media and local residents. Ian tells the police and the media that Jason is the real hero, that he saved him. Jason on the other hand felt as though he would have never been able to stop Crackerjack if Ian hadn't gotten one up on him. Ian says their a team... they did it together. Things start to look up for Jason, he's got a book deal in the works, possibly a movie, and he was gifted 100,000, for killing Crackerjack. Make that 200,000 after Ian decides that Jason deserves his portion of the money. Yes, things are looking really good for Jason. That is, until he stands to lose it all. Jason and Ian begin another journey together, one that will show them exactly what the inside dark looks like. From the beginning James Hankins has you hooked, that's what he does. I also know that there is always a twist. Early on I could see where things were headed, almost from the start, I was interested to see how this story was going to play out. I kept saying to myself "Okay James, where are you taking this?". The part I struggled with was how is it that Jason could never seem to get out of the mess he was facing? There were several times I kept thinking to myself... you idiot, why didn't you do this or that? (I'll spare you details as to not reveal anything). That aside, I really enjoyed this, just as I have with other James Hankins novels. It's fast paced, the characters are well developed, some may say too developed. It's twisted, captivating, and maybe even heroic.
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  • Whitney
    June 5, 2017
    Okay...So I finished this book quickly enough (meaning it was easy to make progress), but it was...disappointing.Like really disappointing. I had hoped for more from this book before beginning it, and maybe that's partly why I was expecting something much different and ended up having my hopes dashed.Either way, not a huge fan. First, I found the main character weak. Not just weak, but greedy and full of self-pity. That makes for a bad combination, and it easily annoyed me throughout the first t Okay...So I finished this book quickly enough (meaning it was easy to make progress), but it was...disappointing.Like really disappointing. I had hoped for more from this book before beginning it, and maybe that's partly why I was expecting something much different and ended up having my hopes dashed.Either way, not a huge fan. First, I found the main character weak. Not just weak, but greedy and full of self-pity. That makes for a bad combination, and it easily annoyed me throughout the first third or so of the book. I kept wanting to reach through the pages of the book and strangle Jason myself. He just went on and on and on about his poor, sad life and the fact that nobody (translation: his frigid, judgmental wife) loved him or wanted him or understood him. Boohoo! Deal with it.Second, while the premise was arguably unusual, it still managed to fall flat, not just throughout the book, but at the conclusion as well. I had honestly expected the author to give it more zip--an incredibly shocking reason behind the killer's killings, grislier descriptions of the murder scenes (this is a suspense-thriller type book, after all!), even a more creative MO and signature would have sufficed. The whole Crackerjack name and the face painting thing was just absurd and not at all terrifying. Third, the conclusion. It was totally anticlimactic. Very run-of-the-mill stuff. In this type of book, you (the reader) know the main character is going to live, so you (the author) better pep it up with an ending that has readers hanging onto every word....or at the very least, interested in what happens next. By the time the story reached its finale, I could not have cared less if Jason lived or died, and that's hard for me to admit as someone who tries very hard to give the main character every benefit of the doubt in a book. I just had a difficult time relating to and feeling sorry for Jason. He was just flawed enough for me to think "meh" when wondering about his fate.Lastly, I had really hoped that the author would play up the part about Jason and the hitchhiker on the highway. What if it had been intentional? What if the Inside Dark truly was inside Jason, and Crackerjack had been right all along? Now, that would have made for an interesting story, and one the author should have explored more! Points do go to the author, though, for the idea behind Crackerjack's motives for killing. The whole voyeurism thing was just creepy enough to keep me turning the page. Although not entirely original, it was, admittedly, something I had not yet read in a suspense-thriller story, and I can appreciate that fact. Overall, a decent book. Not one to pick up if you're looking for something that'll keep you up at night or make you want to gush to friends and family, but an interesting concept and worth reading if you have the time to spare. *Note: This ARC was kindly provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Yellagirlgc
    July 15, 2017
    This book review is going to require some thought. Sometimes I finish a book and just dont know what my real feelings for it are. Or how to put what i feel about it into words. So I'll just say to be continued. I received a copy from the publisher and NetGalley for my review.
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  • Cheryl
    July 4, 2017
    "Some people were absolutely crazy. Some were just plain evil. And some were a whole lot of both."I am a fan of author James Hankins. I've read all his books to date (at least that I know of) and enjoyed them all. I especially appreciate that they're all standalone novels and each unique.In THE INSIDE DARK Jason Swike is a wannabe novelist in Massachusetts. He's written one book that ALMOST made it big but lately he's been copywriting to support the family he's separated from - not by his choice "Some people were absolutely crazy. Some were just plain evil. And some were a whole lot of both."I am a fan of author James Hankins. I've read all his books to date (at least that I know of) and enjoyed them all. I especially appreciate that they're all standalone novels and each unique.In THE INSIDE DARK Jason Swike is a wannabe novelist in Massachusetts. He's written one book that ALMOST made it big but lately he's been copywriting to support the family he's separated from - not by his choice. Two years ago he was driving and got in a wreck that crippled his wife. His son has Down's Syndrome PLUS a rare deadly blood disease.And to top it all off, for the last five days he's been chained to a deserted stable wall, not fed, given drugged water, and is at the mercy of the Crackerjack serial killer. I tell you, this guy didn't eat his Lucky Charms for breakfast.But maybe his luck is changing because, with the help of another prisoner, he's able to escape a gruesome death and he might even be able to cash in on his new notoriety.This is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that kept my interest all the way through. I was able to figure out a couple of the twists ahead of time and Swike was a complicated character to like. It's not my favorite of Hankins books. That would probably be BROTHERS AND BONES. But I would have rated it 4 1/2 stars if I could have. It's well worth reading.I received this book from Thomas and Mercer through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.
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  • Joann
    July 16, 2017
    I won this e-book in a Goodreads Giveaway - "The Inside Dark” by James Hankins. This is definitely a dark thriller and I finished the book and it was just an OK read for me. I just couldn't relate to the "good guy" or anyone in his family. There was something missing for me. I did figure out the twist about half way through but I wanted to make sure he got his comeuppance! It's written with a question or comment from a person and then a few pages later, there is the other person's comment so tha I won this e-book in a Goodreads Giveaway - "The Inside Dark” by James Hankins. This is definitely a dark thriller and I finished the book and it was just an OK read for me. I just couldn't relate to the "good guy" or anyone in his family. There was something missing for me. I did figure out the twist about half way through but I wanted to make sure he got his comeuppance! It's written with a question or comment from a person and then a few pages later, there is the other person's comment so that means you can skip through a lot of the dialogue which is what I did.
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  • Kortnee
    April 4, 2017
    More Reviews on My Website: www.foreverkortnee.com The Inside Dark is a good novel. It immediately pulls you into the action and from then on doesn't let go. I wasn't expecting to read it so quickly, but I did because I had to know what was going to happen. I love novels that keep a fast pace while still maintaining a good narrative and The Inside Dark did all that. The novel, told from various perspectives, begins with the main character Jason awakening in a stable stall, chained to the walls. More Reviews on My Website: www.foreverkortnee.com The Inside Dark is a good novel. It immediately pulls you into the action and from then on doesn't let go. I wasn't expecting to read it so quickly, but I did because I had to know what was going to happen. I love novels that keep a fast pace while still maintaining a good narrative and The Inside Dark did all that. The novel, told from various perspectives, begins with the main character Jason awakening in a stable stall, chained to the walls. He has come to realize that he has been kidnapped by a notorious serial killer dubbed Crackerjack by the media. Desperate to escape but dehydrated and drugged, all he can cling to is the fading sliver of hope that he may survive. Held for nearly four days which does not fit with Crackerjack's normal profile, Jason is surprised when a new victim is thrown into the stall next to him. Barely able to converse, Jason and the man next door, Ian, wait until Crackerjack approaches and takes Ian to his operating table. Jason listens in horror as Ian is tortured and resigns himself to his fate until his stall crashes open and Ian and Crackerjack fall on top of him. A struggle ensues and Jason manages to kill Crackerjack. Relief is evident when he is rescued and praised as a hero for escaping the deranged bone-breaking killer. Offered numerous interviews and a book deal, Jason believes his life has reached a turning point for the better until a new brand of horror enters his life and begins to jeopardize everything he loves.As I said before, the pace of this novel was really enjoyable and I loved being able to view the story from different perspectives. All of the characters were well developed and the twists were entertaining to read, although I was able to predict the major one. Mysteries and thrillers are one of my favourite genres and I loved the suspense that built throughout the novel. Although the novel was not traditional in its setup, the events were thrilling to read and I found myself rooting for Jason although I was not entirely sure how he would emerge from the events of the book unscathed. One of my favourite aspects of The Inside Dark was the way the author connected all of the events. The concept of a mastermind serial killer is perhaps overdone, yet Hankins managed to create a new brand of horror with his villain while creating events that seemed terrifyingly realistic.The Inside Dark was an exciting thriller for me to read and I enjoyed the story that James Hankins created. It keeps you interested until the end and the resolution was good as well. The antecedent action was perfect for the climax and I was excited to see how everything would turn out; it did not disappoint. I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Natalia Harusavagegarden's Reviews
    July 9, 2017
    3.5/4 starsyou can find more review on Haru's Savage GardenThe Inside Dark by James Hankins is a fast-paced, deftly written, suspenseful, psychologically rich, taut, and riveting novel. The story, set in Boston area, is written in various point view and you find yourself, from the very first page, into a started story.Jason Swike ( a crime, mystery, and suspenseful novelist ) has been chained to a wall of a horse corral in a deserted and abandoned stable for five days. He was abducted from a des 3.5/4 starsyou can find more review on Haru's Savage GardenThe Inside Dark by James Hankins is a fast-paced, deftly written, suspenseful, psychologically rich, taut, and riveting novel. The story, set in Boston area, is written in various point view and you find yourself, from the very first page, into a started story.Jason Swike ( a crime, mystery, and suspenseful novelist ) has been chained to a wall of a horse corral in a deserted and abandoned stable for five days. He was abducted from a deserted parking lot by no other than the infamous serial killer dubbed Crackerjack by the media. Five days have passed since his abduction, and his abductor feeds him only a bottle of water mixed with sleeping drugs which left him groggy, hungry, drugged and dehydrated. He waits for his turn. He waits for the time death would take him still clinging to the fading hope he may survive when another man is captured and thrown right next to him. The appearance of Ian instilled doubts and wonders on Jason of why the killer didn't kill him. And when he wakes up from one of his drug induced sleep he hears in horror the killer torturing Ian. All of that made his last drop of hope waiver, making him give in to his fate till something happened. Ian and the killer crashed themselves in Jason corral, right on top of him. A struggle for survival broke out, and Jason, with the last drop of strength, and not so lucidly, is able to kill Crackerjack. Both the men survive and escape from the stable. The media are interested in him and numerous interviews and book deals are offered to Jason. The one who cleaned the world from a dangerous individual. Jason believes his life is finally on track, reaching a turning point for the better until something even worse change his thoughts. Something that makes him fears to lose everything once again.As I've already mentioned the novel has it all; Psychological twists, well-written prose, and packed actions. The first part of the book left me with mixed feelings because most of the actions were way too predictable. You could foretell what was about to happen which in a well-written thriller isn't the best thing.Although everything just said the plot and the fast-paced writing made me want to read the book in one go. I was curious to know how Jason would emerge from the many events the book unleashed on him. If he was able to escape from the horror once again and how he'd do it.Besides that I even loved how the author conveys all the events together, answering all the questions the reader posed to themselves. Nothing was left behind. Hankins serial killer concept might have seemed like the others but the MO and the background made you wonder whether everyone could succumb to that part of yourself that one always hide. He created a devastatingly and ruthless villain who is capable of everything to have his way which was only one.The character of Jason on the other end resulted, for the first part of the book too greedy, weak and full of self-pity. And most of the time I wished I could shake some sense into him. I didn't need it thou. Jason character has grown up during the last part of the book doing everything in his power to save himself and his family.The book was an enjoyable, inventive, gory, at trait thou predictable novel which I'd gladly recommend, and I enjoyed the world James Hankins has written and created. And in spite of some faults, the plot is endearing and in part inventive.I received a free copy from the publisher via NetGalley, my opinion hasn’t been affected by that. I only write honest reviews.
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  • David Walters
    June 10, 2017
    The Inside Dark is a never-ending rollercoaster ride of emotion. You'll ride all the highs and stumble or crawl along with all the lows in this psychologically taut thriller. Jason Swike wakes up in a old horse corral, chained, groggy, hungry, and only given water to drink. What he doesn't realize in the beginning is that his water is drugged and every sip puts him in and out of consciousness. As time passes by slowly, he wonders when death will arrive. As a crime writer, he knows these situatio The Inside Dark is a never-ending rollercoaster ride of emotion. You'll ride all the highs and stumble or crawl along with all the lows in this psychologically taut thriller. Jason Swike wakes up in a old horse corral, chained, groggy, hungry, and only given water to drink. What he doesn't realize in the beginning is that his water is drugged and every sip puts him in and out of consciousness. As time passes by slowly, he wonders when death will arrive. As a crime writer, he knows these situations never work out in the victim's favor. Why should there be any hope? He and his wife, Sophie, separated after a car wreck left her in a wheelchair. His six-year old son, Max, has down-syndrome and has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease. His writing career was in the toilet.Then, he heard the whistle. It sounded like 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game". He knew that MO. CrackerjackThe media's latest darling. He paints the faces of his victims and then proceeds to break their bones with, you guessed it, a bat. Three strikes, your out. Killers just love to live up to their namesake. What Jason doesn't expect to hear is a voice from the next corral over. His name is Ian Cobb and he has a plan. When Crackerjack comes for him, he is going to fight back. Jason never expects the fight to come into his stall and a struggle ensues. With Cobb's help, Crackerjack is killed and the men look down at the face of the man who almost ended their lives.The next thing you know, the men are praised as heroes. Jason gets book and movie deals, his estranged wife and son are back in the picture, and life seems to be great again. But there is still something that tugs at his mind and he can't shake. The terror that began in the stable is only the beginning. What happens next will put Jason's family in the crosshairs and Jason in the headlights of a hard edged detective.This is my first foray with Hankins and certainly won't be my last. His writing is fast-paced and thrilling; edge of your seat type stuff. Every time you think you got it all figured out, he twisted it into something new. He does a great job with characterization but I did feel like some of them were unbelievably gullible or too easily manipulated while others were more fleshed out. I also think the 'Crackerjack' moniker was a little childish, but it did make sense with the killer's MO. All in all, if you want a psychological summer thriller, look no further. See this and other reviews over at http://Booknest.eu.
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  • RitaH
    July 20, 2017
    Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for my ARCThe Inside Dark lives up to its name! It is dark! Be warned if you are squeamish about sadistic violence that the plot centers on a crazed, psychopathic serial killer, who is looking for a new partner in crime. Jason, a former victim of his who was able to escape, is trying to stay clear of Cobb and keep his family safe. But that isn't easy when you've literally banked on being able to exploit your capture for big bucks in books, movies, and appe Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for my ARCThe Inside Dark lives up to its name! It is dark! Be warned if you are squeamish about sadistic violence that the plot centers on a crazed, psychopathic serial killer, who is looking for a new partner in crime. Jason, a former victim of his who was able to escape, is trying to stay clear of Cobb and keep his family safe. But that isn't easy when you've literally banked on being able to exploit your capture for big bucks in books, movies, and appearances. Many twists and turns along the way.This story, which pushed me past my acceptance boundaries in crime fiction suspense, was so well-written & so intense, that I was perched on the edge of my seat, quickly flipping the pages. I couldn't wait to get to the end and find out how Mr. Hankins was going to wrap up this psychological thriller by the last page. He did, I was appeased, and I now recommend the book to you-- with the caveat to examine your threshold for dark, gritty, explicit violence that is necessary for the plot. If this type of story doesn't bother you, then this title, and this author, should be a winner for you!4/5 stars {1 deducted for my occasional personal discomfort, yours may vary}.
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  • Jonathan Urban
    June 11, 2017
    Hankins returns with an incredibly nail-biting thriller. The protagonist, Jason Swike, has been kidnapped by the notorious Crackerjack serial killer and all he wants to do is escape and go back to his old life. He finds escaping the easy part, along with the notoriety it brings to his fledgling writing career and monetary opportunities to take care of his estranged wife and seriously ill son. However, once free he is faced with a cunning antagonist that will make him question just how free he is Hankins returns with an incredibly nail-biting thriller. The protagonist, Jason Swike, has been kidnapped by the notorious Crackerjack serial killer and all he wants to do is escape and go back to his old life. He finds escaping the easy part, along with the notoriety it brings to his fledgling writing career and monetary opportunities to take care of his estranged wife and seriously ill son. However, once free he is faced with a cunning antagonist that will make him question just how free he is, as well as how far he'll go before becoming what he fears most. Deep characters and rich environments bring this thriller to life. But it's a thinking man's thriller as well as motivations on both sides are not always as black and white as one would think. I was given an advanced copy for a fair and honest review and have the say this is genuinely a good read, with a well-established plot but enough twists and turns to keep you reading until the end.
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  • Brenna Clark
    July 23, 2017
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and was thrilled to be greeted by a rollercoaster of a novel that was nothing but twists, turns, and drops. You are thrust into Jason's world as it is falling apart, and seemingly as it is about to end. As the story unfolds, you learn more and more about the type of person he is, what he's been through, and how close of a friend he is with the darkness. He is a great protagonist; someone who you can relate to, but also someone you can't be sure if you lik I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and was thrilled to be greeted by a rollercoaster of a novel that was nothing but twists, turns, and drops. You are thrust into Jason's world as it is falling apart, and seemingly as it is about to end. As the story unfolds, you learn more and more about the type of person he is, what he's been through, and how close of a friend he is with the darkness. He is a great protagonist; someone who you can relate to, but also someone you can't be sure if you like. His persona coupled with the crumbling mess that is Ian Cobb was a forest fire that consumed everything they touched. You had to decide who was truly evil, and who was living their lives through necessity only. In my opinion, it was easy to care for them both, which made the lines blur between good and bad so much easily. A riveting story and compelling read.
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  • Rachel
    July 15, 2017
    I read this in less than 24 hours, really debated staying up all night to finish it but alas I needed sleep. I will be buying this for my permanent library collection for sure. I was impressed by the characterizations, the plot (there was a "twist" but it was so glaringly obvious it can't really be called a twist can it? not that that bothered me one tiny bit), the ending, just everything. I thoroughly enjoyed this. And for the subject matter, I would almost call this a clean read. It was about I read this in less than 24 hours, really debated staying up all night to finish it but alas I needed sleep. I will be buying this for my permanent library collection for sure. I was impressed by the characterizations, the plot (there was a "twist" but it was so glaringly obvious it can't really be called a twist can it? not that that bothered me one tiny bit), the ending, just everything. I thoroughly enjoyed this. And for the subject matter, I would almost call this a clean read. It was about horrible violence, but I don't recall a single f-word (or much of any other swearing) or even a sexual innuendo. Who knew a 5 star novel could be written without those things!! I can't wait to read more by this author.Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jk
    July 28, 2017
    I received a free Kindle edition of this book via the Goodreads Giveaways program and would like to thank anyone who had a hand in making that possible!My rating on this is a 3.5 rounded up. This is an interesting premise for a thriller and it kept me entertained and turning pages but for some reason I just never really connected with any of the characters. I wasn't emotionally invested in any of them and ultimately just didn't care what happened to them so I was left feeling very flat in the en I received a free Kindle edition of this book via the Goodreads Giveaways program and would like to thank anyone who had a hand in making that possible!My rating on this is a 3.5 rounded up. This is an interesting premise for a thriller and it kept me entertained and turning pages but for some reason I just never really connected with any of the characters. I wasn't emotionally invested in any of them and ultimately just didn't care what happened to them so I was left feeling very flat in the end. I also felt like some of the circumstances and happenings were pretty unbelievable, though I did like the open ending with the detective. I think a lot of people will really like this one and I didn't dislike it but it just didn't blow my skirt up.
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  • Denise Thomas
    July 13, 2017
    This was a great read. I always enjoy how Mr. Hankins makes his protagonist slightly flawed. Jason Swike is a guy we wanna like…but could he be the bad guy? Maybe! A dark thriller that probes the question – how far would one go to protect himself; and his family? Do we all have a darkness inside waiting for the perfect storm of circumstance to come out? I love the kind of books that make you want to keep reading…you’ll stay up too late; read at work…and this is one of those books! I would like t This was a great read. I always enjoy how Mr. Hankins makes his protagonist slightly flawed. Jason Swike is a guy we wanna like…but could he be the bad guy? Maybe! A dark thriller that probes the question – how far would one go to protect himself; and his family? Do we all have a darkness inside waiting for the perfect storm of circumstance to come out? I love the kind of books that make you want to keep reading…you’ll stay up too late; read at work…and this is one of those books! I would like to thank Thomas & Mercer for providing me an advance copy so I could leave an honest, unbiased review.Denise Connors
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  • Denise
    July 18, 2017
    As an avid true crime fan, I normally don't read fictional crime stories, but after winning a digital copy of this book, I decided to give it a try. I loved this book and was searching Amazon for more by this author before I'd even finished it. Without giving too much away, its about two men who escape from a serial killer and its aftermath. The characters were easy to like and get to know, even the killer to some extent. It was hard to put down and the plot was continually changing and making y As an avid true crime fan, I normally don't read fictional crime stories, but after winning a digital copy of this book, I decided to give it a try. I loved this book and was searching Amazon for more by this author before I'd even finished it. Without giving too much away, its about two men who escape from a serial killer and its aftermath. The characters were easy to like and get to know, even the killer to some extent. It was hard to put down and the plot was continually changing and making you guess at what was really going on. It was never dull and the ending was very good. I'll definitely be reading more from this author!
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  • Ann
    July 11, 2017
    The Inside Dark is a little different psychological thriller. Throughout the book I was constantly asking myself what I would have done in the same situation. With The Inside Dark James Hankins has given his fans another intriguing story. Some edge of your seat moments and definitely a page turner. I would like to thank Thomas & Mercer for providing me with an early copy of The Inside Dark so I could leave an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Tina Bailey
    July 24, 2017
    Good bookI knew from the beginning who Crackerjack really was, and I suspect readers who are deep into thrillers all pretty much knew as well. So, this was not as gripping as some, but it wasn't as bad as some stories either. I hate writing bad reviews, and I am positive that there are many readers who will find this at least 4 stars, but for me, it was on the side of slow going.
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  • Laurie
    July 22, 2017
    I got this book as a goodreads Kindle giveaway, and I'm happy to own it. I thought I had it figured out from the start, but as events progress even with thinking I knew it all, suspense built and I couldn't put the book down. I finished it in one day. It was well thought out and well-written. I'd recommend it if you love twisted thrillers.
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  • Yvonne Persa
    July 22, 2017
    Couldn't put it down! What a thriller! This book was fabulous! I couldn't stop reading it. I thought it might turn out to be different as I had already figured it out. But I was ok with that because it was written to keep you intrigued by what would happen next. Who would end up dead?!
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  • Nancy
    July 14, 2017
    Pretty TwistedI clearly saw part of this story nearly from the beginning. I didn't really care for any of the characters. Even the police detective wasn't sympathetic. Most of them had The Inside Dark in them, except Max. Good dialogue, generally.
  • Bud Sloan
    July 16, 2017
    Having only "The Prettiest One" from this a author to compare it to, which I thoroughly enjoyed, "The Inside Dark" came in second.
  • Dayna
    July 15, 2017
    After the television interview chapter, the novel became predictable. I received a Kindle edition from a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Mrs Maureen A Folarin
    July 21, 2017
    Dark indeedAt last an unputdownable reed. Left me totally unsure who the real villains where. Unpredictable to the very end, if it did actually end
  • Ellen
    July 21, 2017
    Liked the unpredictability of this book. Suspenseful and unnerving.
  • Trudy Flynn
    July 29, 2017
    Exciting readI thought this book had a good story great twist and turns I found that it was quite difficult for me to put the book down. I quite enjoyed it.
  • Teresa
    July 26, 2017
    Exciting, fast paced read! It was a little gross but it was a great thriller!!
  • Jool
    July 28, 2017
    This is an exceptional book about a serial killer and the man who kills him - a man who was his captive. This is an intense fast paced thriller about the serial killer and how he exacts his revenge.
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