Review: Somewhere in the Dark by R.J. Jacobs

Title: Somewhere in the Dark by R.J. Jacobs
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Suspense
Length: 268 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Exploring lives on the brink of disaster, R. J. Jacobs returns with another compulsively readable novel of suspense for fans of B. A. Paris and Mary Kubica.

Do the mistakes of the past mark us as guilty for life?

After a childhood marred by neglect, Jessie Duval’s finally got it together. With an apartment in Nashville and a job with a catering company, she’s thriving.

But all that changes when Jessie works an event where celebrities will be in attendance–including the one person from her past she must avoid at all costs: singer Shelly James. Jessie doesn’t hate Shelly. Quite the opposite. One summer, she followed Shelly’s tour everywhere. Only, Shelly wasn’t flattered; she was terrified by Jessie’s devotion–especially after Jessie was arrested. But after a year of therapy, Jessie understands what happened. She’s not the same person anymore.

Jessie keeps her head down, but when Shelly is found dead, Jessie’s troubled past comes tumbling out and she quickly becomes a suspect in the high-profile murder. As the police close in on her, ignoring other credible leads, Jessie realizes Shelly’s murder will be pinned on her–the perfect scapegoat–unless she finds the real killer. And no one knows Shelly’s life and inner circle better than her. But she will have to go deeper into the dark–if ever she wants to find her way out.


Somewhere in the Dark by R.J. Jacobs is an intriguing mystery that is also rather touching.

Nineteen year old Jessie Duvall is finally getting her life on track. Growing up, she bounces from foster home to foster home and she endures horrendous neglect. She becomes fixated on singer Shelly James following a horrific year in one of the foster homes. This obsession eventually culminates with time in prison.  Jessie is now living in Nashville and she has a job she likes, a parole officer she fears and a warm and caring social worker. With a better understanding of her fascination with Shelly James,  Jessie is staying away from the family and considering everything in her past, she is doing well. That is until Jessie winds up back in Shelly’s orbit. And when Shelly is murdered, Jessie is Detectives Jason Marion and Williams prime suspect. Will Jessie figure out the identity of the real killer before she is arrested?

Jessie is still playing catch up due to the extreme neglect from her childhood. She tries to blend in whenever she is in public and she is quite watchful of the people around her. Jessie still struggles with naming her emotions but she is an expert at reading whatever situation she is in. So when she sees Shelly, her husband and band mate Owen and their daughter Finch, Jessie notices things are not quite right with the family.   And looking back at the time she spent following the tour, Jessie  has a better understanding of some of the things she witnessed but shrugged off at the time.

Jessie’s life does not get truly complicated until right before and after Shelly’s murder. She is terrified of getting arrested so she tries to piece together what lead her to this point. With help from a very unexpected source, Jessie begins investigatimg Shelly’s death on her own. But Detective Williams is laser focused on no other suspect and Jessie goes to extreme lengths to protect herself from being arrested for murder.

With an unusual but appealing protagonist, Somewhere in the Dark is a slow burn yet incredibly engrossing mystery. Jessie is a vividly drawn young woman who is extremely  easy to like and root for.  She continues to grow and evolve throughout the novel as she puts her fixation on the James  family into perspective. The investigation into Shelly’s murder is interesting and R.J. Jacobs this compelling mystery to a gratifying conclusion.  I highly recommend this riveting mystery to fans of the genre.

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