Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Title: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis
The Searchers Series Book One
Publisher: Mullholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A race-against-time thriller for fans of Tana French and Megan Abbott: to save a missing girl, FBI Agent Elsa Myers may have to lose herself…

Even as her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, FBI Agent Elsa Myers can’t ignore a call for help. A teenage girl has disappeared from Forest Hills, Queens, and during the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads obscures the fact that she did not go willingly.

With each passing hour, as the hunt for Ruby deepens into a search for a man who may have been killing for years, Elsa’s carefully compartmentalized world collapses around her. She finds missing people, but she knows too well how it feels to be lost. Everything she has buried–her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother’s death–threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.

Can our most painful childhood secrets be forgotten? Or will they always find their way back into our adult lives? These questions lie at the heart of A Map of the Dark, a riveting portrait of a woman haunted by her family legacy, and a race-against-time thriller.


The first installment in The Searchers series, A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is a spellbinding mystery about an abducted teen.

FBI Agent Elsa Myers is in the midst of a heartrending family situation when her boss calls her in to aid Queens Detective Alexei “Lex” Cole with an urgent case with a missing teenager . Seventeen year old Ruby Haverstack disappeared one night after work and has not been seen since. She is not a troubled teen nor is it likely she ran away which makes her disappearance all the more suspicious. Elsa quickly discovers the case has not been handled quite as carefully as it should have been and valuable time has been lost in those crucial first hours of the investigation. Elsa is well aware she has a tendency to be a little too controlling but she finds it difficult to trust that Lex can handle the investigation since this is his first major case since transferring from Vice.  Despite her doubts, she and Lex work well together but will they find Ruby before it is too late?

Elsa is a veteran agent with several investigations under her belt but with everything going in her personal life, she is having a very hard time maintaining her objectivity and focus. She is a complex character who has not quite come to terms with her dysfunctional childhood which is front and center in her thoughts as works on Ruby’s case. Elsa is her own worst critic as she castigates herself for missing clues that no one, not even she, could have recognized without the information that is uncovered later in the investigation.

Once Elsa and Lex know the kidnapper’s identity, their investigation really gains traction. Although they quickly uncover other possible victims, they are at a loss as to  a motive for the crimes.  When an unexpected discovery provides a viable place to look for the Ruby, the case takes a shockingly personal turn for Elsa. With even more urgency to locate the victims, she, Lex and the other members of the investigative team feverishly search for the kidnapper’s lair.

With the chapters weaving back and forth in time between events from Elsa’s past and the hunt for Ruby, A Map of the Dark is a compelling police procedural.  Elsa is a deeply flawed but incredibly sympathetic lead protagonist who, when partnered with Lex,  finds someone who rather unnervingly slips past her formidable defenses. This first installment in Karen Ellis’s The Searchers series is a multi-layered crime drama that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

1 Comment

Filed under A Map of the Dark, Contemporary, Karen Ellis, Mulholland Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Searchers Series

One Response to Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

  1. Timitra

    Sounds good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy