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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. He is cold-blooded, meticulous and elusive, and until the police and readers begin to put two and two together, he is referred to throughout the novel as “The man”. That simple moniker is chilling. For the first twelve chapters, Joseph Lewis focuses on introducing the law enforcement team assigned to hunting down this heartless killer. The pace is quick, thanks to the plentiful use of dialogue between team members, and despite Lewis’ large cast of characters, lots of names and detailed descriptions of their clothing. Even as readers scramble to remember all the names, when the arrogant, narcissistic "man" reappears again in Chapter 12, we are keen to learn more about him and his motivation.
But suddenly, the pace changes as readers are introduced to a blended family of young boys, some of whom are adopted. Thanks to their loving parents, these boys share a very close, open and loving relationship with each other and their parents. It is at this point that Spiral Into Darkness mutates from being a simple thriller to a story about young boys coping with insecurities about their sexuality. The details of their activity with each other are quite graphic and may disturb less open-minded readers. The author’s reasons for this divergence will be clear to more discerning readers, but others might feel this part of the novel is better suited to a separate book altogether.
Lewis brings the story to a satisfactory close as we find out just who “the man” is and why he has killed so many people. His reasons are obviously rooted in his own upbringing, which strongly contrasts with the loving environment of the blended family. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.