Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review - Too Dark to Sleep by Dianne Gallagher (4/5)

By Amanda Amaya

Too Dark to Sleep is an incredible piece of work that grabbed me early on and didn’t let go—much like the dark that stalks the main character in the story.  I’m very happy that this is going to be a series (second installment to be released at a date unknown), because the characters, the plot, and the writing are all superb.  Here is the synopsis from
Avid readers of crime fiction, noir or psychological thrillers will find Too Dark to Sleep a fresh take on their favorite genre. This is the first book in a gripping new series and not to be missed. 

Maggie Quinn was the top homicide detective in Chicago’s Area One before she suffered a devastating loss. Now struggling to face each day, Quinn becomes obsessed with solving her last case for the department that now bars her from wearing a badge. But is she targeting the right person or is Quinn’s tormented mind pushing her to ruin the life of an innocent man?
I don’t read too many from the crime/mystery/thriller genre, but from my limited experience, I can tell this book is different.  The main character, Maggie Quinn, is deeply troubled, still grieving an immense loss, and is afraid of the dark.  But, she has the best solve rate out of any of the detectives in her office and is the best they have.  She also has a father who works for the “Outfit” (read: Mafia), and is still helping out his daughter from behind bars.  The police request her help when a probable serial killer strikes again.  Maggie was the detective that worked the first two similar murders, and her police chief is consulting her to help solve the case.

I loved the description of how Maggie processes a crime scene—her techniques, the way her mind works.  I am a fan of Forensic Files, but most of these shows do not go into the exact details that the detectives use to solve the crime.  Too Dark to Sleep was different. 

The stigma of mental illness also comes into play in the book.  Maggie is devastated after her loss, and her father must pay for a nurse to live fulltime with her.  The nurse makes sure she eats, sleeps, changes clothes and is protected from herself, which leads to complications when Maggie goes back to her office as a consultant.  Former coworkers object to her involvement in the case, and she is paired with a new detective who has his own issues.  Together they work to catch the killer that leaves absolutely no trail, enjoys taunting the police, and will go to any lengths to maintain his reputation, his lifestyle and his murderous pastime.

Dianne Gallagher
The one thing that was difficult for me (and I’ll state it here for others who might be similarly affected), is that Maggie’s mental breakdown is due to the death of her daughter.  I knew this going in, but decided to give it a go anyway.  I have a daughter near the same age as Maggie’s, and at times it was difficult reading about her grief.  Points to Dianne Gallagher for a realistic depiction, though.

I enjoyed Dianne’s writing style as well.  I loved the way she describes Maggie’s condition and the way she builds suspense.  Too Dark to Sleep is written so that the reader isn’t sure about the killer’s identity until the very last chapter.  While other books in this genre outright tell you who the killer is, and the book is spent trying to prove it, in this book, there’s enough reasonable doubt to make things interesting.  Throughout the book I was second-guessing Maggie, looking for other possible killers along with her, and sharing in her frustration at not being able to “get her man.”  I also appreciated the depiction of Chicago’s corrupt politics—very interesting to see how city government works in this (hopefully fictional) metropolis. 

The ending was unpredictable and a little unsatisfying.  I guess I was looking for the rainbows and kitten happy ending for her.  Oh well.  As I said earlier, Too Dark to Sleep is the first in a series, so I look forward to seeing Maggie develop as a character. 

I give Too Dark to Sleep 4 stars, as I was completely captivated throughout.  I loved the unpredictable nature of the book, the tender descriptions of Maggie’s slow healing, and the in-depth depictions of police work.  Definitely a must read for anyone that likes this genre.

About the ReviewerAmanda was born in Texas, moved to Pittsburgh for 25 years, and now she’s back in the Lone Star State.  She has been a nurse for a decade.  She loves to read and will usually read anything.  She prefers to focus on self-published authors and may consider writing herself one day.  She is also a newlywed and a mom.  You can check out her work at the and on her blog The Eclectic Bookworm.


  1. Cute that she thinks portraying Chicago Politics as corrupt may be fictional. Did I tell you about my driver's license?

    Nice review. Make me want to read the book.

    1. Heh, yeah I thought it was a little naive too. There's a reason why so many people use the term "Chicago politics" in a derogatory manner. :)

      And no, you havne't told me about your driver's license. Do tell.