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  • Intense, atmospheric mystery (4.5 stars)

    The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel is a gritty and completely enthralling mystery set in a poverty-stricken town in the Missouri Ozarks. In hopes of making a better life for her daughter, Junie, single mother Eve Taggert and her brother Cal have managed to escape their dysfunctional and abusive childhood. Eve works as a waitress at a local diner and Cal is a deputy in the Sheriff’s office. They helped one another survive their horrific childhood and Eve has completely cut their meth-addicted, hard as nails mother out of both her and Junie’s lives. Eve has worked hard to give Junie a good life and she has successfully suppressed the darker aspects of her personality. But after twelve year old Junie and her best friend Izzie Logan are brutally murdered, Eve’s grief turns to rage as she begins searching for their killer. After Junie’s death, Eve’s more civilized veneer is stripped away as she begins her hunt for her killer. Despite her hope the murderer comes from Izzy’s life, she begins her investigation into her own past. After reluctantly asking her estranged mother for help, Eve seeks answers from her former boyfriend, Jimmy Ray Fulton, who runs the local drug business and owns a strip club. Cautiously approaching the man who abused her throughout their relationship years earlier, Eve is surprised and slightly puzzled by the advice he offers her. Eve also relies on Cal to provide her with answers since the sheriff’s office is in charge of the investigation. Cal has long been the rock she relies on and he has taken his niece’s death extremely hard. Cal’s attempts to rein in her investigation are futile as Eve plows headlong into danger in order to find justice for Junie. The Familiar Dark is an intense, atmospheric mystery that is somewhat dark and disturbing. The storyline is engrossing and touches on many sensitive issues such as drug addiction, domestic abuse, child neglect and abuse of power by men in authoritative roles. The poverty, small town setting and surrounding hollers are vividly brought to life and add to the story’s overall feeling of bleakness and despair. Amy Engel brings this mesmerizing mystery to a twist-filled conclusion that is shocking yet astonishingly satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed and HIGHLY recommend this tension-filled mystery. I received a complimentary copy for review.

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  • A Fantastic Novel!

    This was a fantastic novel! I read this author's previous book, The Roanoke Girls, and fell in love with this author's writing so I knew I wanted to read this book just as soon as I saw it. I went into the book with rather high expectations and they were met. This was a book that I found very hard to put down. The story was surprising at times and emotional in others. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent reading this story. The book opens with Eve receiving a visit from her brother Cal while working her shift at the local diner. Cal is a local police officer and is there to tell Eve that her 12-year-old daughter, Junie has been murdered along with another child. My heart broke right with Eve's. The descriptions of how she got through those first few days really got to me. Eve worked hard to be a good mother to Junie and only had her brother Cal to lean on. After Junie's death, Eve has nothing left to lose and decides she will stop at nothing to get justice for her daughter. I thought that the characters in this story were very well done. There is a pretty eclectic group of characters represented in this story and they all felt very real to me. I found that while I was pretty shocked by some of the turns the story took, the actions of the characters always felt authentic. I really felt like I was in Eve's head and I understood her motivation to learn what happened to her daughter. I love the fact that this book was able to surprise me. And it didn't just surprise me once because there were several times where the story took a turn that I didn't expect. I love that this story made me feel. There were times that this story really got to me. Eve was such a strong character who was put in one of the most difficult situations that I can imagine. I honestly don't know how someone could read this book and not feel for Eve. I also love that the mystery in this story really kept me guessing. I had no idea who killed those two girls but I was just as desperate as Eve to find out. I found the mystery to be complex and very well done. I would highly recommend this book to others. I found this to be a wonderfully told story that was heartbreaking at times. I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author! I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Dutton via Edelweiss.

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  • A good mum till the end

    This is the fit book I read from Amy Engel and I could not put it down until I finished it. I admire Eve so much, she didn't stop investigating until se found out who was the killer and she took the matter in her hands... This book made me wonder what I would do if I was in Eve's shoes...

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