The Dark Palace by R N Morris

The Dark Palace1914, London, and the world is on the brink of war. Detective Inspector Silas Quinn and his two associates, DS Macadam and DC Inchball, have been tasked with seeking out possible German spies, but their investigations are curtailed when, at the premiere of the new film by Austrian director Konrad Waechter’s latest film, a woman is savagedly attacked, her eye being carved out by persons unknown. She then vanishes into the night… but soon another body with the same injuries appears.

Quinn needs to get to the bottom of things quickly. But with blackmail schemes, personal revelations and troubles at home distracting him left, right and centre, it seems that things might be spiralling out of control…

An interesting one, this one. It’s very different from most of the crime fiction that I read – the central  character is troubled, to say the least. Everyone seems prone to introspection and the overwhelming theme is darkness. And eyes. And the darkness left when you cut someone’s eye out.

I’ll be brief on this one. I think it’s well written – it’s the sort of thing that I expect Scandi-noir to be like (based on the one chapter of Mankell that I read five years ago). There’s a lot more here than the mystery element of the story but it didn’t really jibe with me. There didn’t seem to be a character in the story that I felt that I could relate to as everyone seemed to have major issues of one form or another.

I can see the talent on display with this book – the author has a clear vision for the story and delivers a deep compelling narrative. The mystery element isn’t particularly clued, but the imagery on display is powerful if incredibly bleak.

I’ll admit – this book wasn’t for me and I find it hard to recommend for classic mystery lovers. But do take a look if you fancy something a little different.


    • It’s not the eyes that put me off – although that is pretty grim. It’s just that the whole book is grim – no one seems to have a sense of humour, everyone’s life – especially our hero – is black and only gets blacker. I like light and shade in my mysteries, not darkness and even more darkness. A shame as there is clear talent on display here, just not my cup of tea.


  1. I like this series a lot and it’s on my kindle waiting to be read. The last one was fairly gory too. I like the central character Silas Quinn. Your review has made me want to read it!


    • Thanks for the recommendation – I’ve read and reviewed the first book in the series and didn’t really get on with it, although I can see the appeal. I promised that I’d get back to the author one day…


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