Reviews by L. J. Roberts

DAVID HOUSEWRIGHT – Darkness, Sing Me a Song. Holland Taylor #4. Minotaur Books, hardcover, January 2018. Setting: Twin Cities Minnesota.

First Sentence: She was tall, slender, impeccably tanned; strawberry hair fell in waves to her shoulders.

   Wealthy and socially important Eleanor Barrington has been arrested for the murder of her son Joel’s fiancée, Emily Denys. PI Holland Taylor has been hired to help the defending law firm by investigating Emily’s background, only to find she doesn’t have one.

   And that’s not the only mystery. Bigger questions revolve around the relationship between the mother and son, and where, if at all, does Joel’s sister Devon fit in to things and whether a controversial business deal is involved. This case is much more than Taylor, still recovering from the death of his wife and daughter, and the breakup of a recent relationship, expected.

   The best story is one which starts on page one, although I was amused by the typo on page 6 in the hardcover copy, and dives right it. It is a classic story for a reason. What also works is the reader being set up with one expectation and then story taking a twist within the first two paragraphs.

   Housewright weaves the backstory of the characters into the text and dialogue in a manner where it is intriguing rather than disruptive. While some of the characters are quite disturbing, Ogilvy the rabbit, Mandy Wedermeyer, the 14-year-old neighbor, her mom Claire, and Taylor’s parents add balance and made Taylor more real.

   Taylor is a great character and one that is fully-developed. He has a past that impacts the present. He is a person one would want to know, and there are some nice moments of realization— “I don’t think she was interested in me so much as she craved human contact, which seemed to prove that it isn’t how many people you meet, it’s how many you connect with that matters.”

   There is a very well-done inclusion of environmental issues related to fracking, water and land usage which bring contemporary relevance to the story. One minor criticism is that there are times when following a conversation can become confusing as to whom is speaking.

   Darkness, Sing Me a Song includes relationships which are uncomfortable, has very effective plot twists, and a powerful, rather sad, ending.

— For more of LJ’s reviews, check out her blog at :

       The Holland Taylor series —

1. Penance (1995)

2. Practice to Deceive (1997)
3. Dearly Departed (1999)
4. Darkness, Sing Me a Song (2018)
5. First, Kill the Lawyers (2019)