A Deeper Darkness by J.T. Ellison

A quick rundown…A new series starring Dr Samantha Owens, M.E. who is asked to do an autopsy on an old boyfriend and falls into the hunt for his murderer.

Strengths: Absolutely action packed! A real page turner.

Weaknesses: Was a bit hard to stop reading and go to work.

Why I read it: Kindly sent to me by Harlequin – thank you!

Pages: 352

Published: 2012

Publisher: Harlequin, MIRA imprint

Setting: Nashville and Washington D.C.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10


It’s a long time since I’ve read a thriller that was so engrossing AND contains a very good liner that I completely agree with “Life’s far too short for bad coffee”. Welcome to the world of Dr Samantha Owen, Medical Examiner who just happens to have an ex-Army boyfriend who was killed in a car-jacking – or was he?

Samantha (or Sam) lives a lonely life in Nashville after the untimely death of her husband and children. Prone to drinking a bit and over washing her hands, she is called on by the mother of an ex-boyfriend, Eddie Donovan, to perform a second autopsy on him after a carjacking gone wrong. Flying to Washington D.C., she picks up on some things that just aren’t right and is soon involved in a police investigation of not one, but several murders of his former Army mates.

This book is a multitude of strengths – not only is it a fast paced thriller with a page-turning plot, it has excellent characterisation too. With some books in this genre I find it difficult to differentiate the minor characters, but Ellison gives them quirks and a life of their own so the reader is not left trying to remember who is who. There is a nice balance between the personal (Sam’s previous tragedy and the awkwardness of meeting Eddie’s wife), the autopsies and the police procedurals. Fletcher and Hart are well rounded characters, each with enough personal detail for the reader to be able to identify them.

I’ve mentioned that the book is fast paced, but it’s not so much so that you lose track of what’s going on. The plot is very cleverly constructed, with enough twists that I couldn’t work out who the murderer was until it was revealed. The comments about army life and the rules – including the unspoken – were well placed, but not preachy. There’s also a little bit of romance in this book, but it certainly wasn’t predictable as to who would end up with who!

The emotions in A Deeper Darkness are also very well done. Sam is traumatised after the deaths of her family, but she doesn’t fall into the cliché of the troubled main character. Her pain is real and demonstrated in the flashes of grief that appear randomly – just like the real thing. The pain of Fletcher’s divorce is also explored with a raw emotion – and when Hart tells him why his ex-wife suddenly opened up to him, it all makes simple, yet perfect sense.

This is definitely an intriguing, well written book that will have you reading well into the night. I was really pleased to read that there will be a second book featuring Sam Owens released in the future, which I’ll look out for eagerly. I’ll also be checking out her series involving a police friend of Sam’s, Taylor Jackson.

Thank you to Harlequin for sending me this book and helping me discover a great author!

3 thoughts on “A Deeper Darkness by J.T. Ellison

Add yours

  1. I have read one of Ellison’s book before and while the plot hasn’t stayed with me I remember it being very gripping. This sounds equally as engrossing, if a little far-fetched – would anybody really agree to autopsy somebody they know?! Grim!

  2. I had no idea that Harlequin also printed crime novels. But now I do and this one sounds like a good read (except when it’s a workday? ;)). I love to add crime and mystery to my reading to keep reading slumps at bay. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this new author!

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