A chance encounter with a handsome stranger, a whirlwind romance resulting in an unplanned pregnancy and a hasty marriage – four years later art history professor, Annie Lamb, begins to wonder if she really knows her husband, psychiatrist Ben Lamb, at all. Ben’s first wife, Susannah drowned in the bathtub, an apparent suicide. At the time of her death, Ben and Susannah’s 14-year-old son, Colin, and the housekeeper, Terry, were the only ones’ home. Ben was at a meeting in Boston. Not long after Susannah’s death, housekeeper Terry was also killed, the victim of a mugging.

Annie finds it curious that Ben never mentions his deceased wife and, wanting to understand what their relationship was all about, becomes increasingly obsessed with delving into Susannah’s life and the reason(s) behind her decision to kill herself. However, Annie’s investigations reveal that perhaps Susannah wasn’t so unhappy after all. A photo taken a couple days before her death shows Susannah in a garden, smiling up at a man standing in front of her, whose face is hidden. She looks blissfully happy, not a woman bent on suicide. Ben, becoming aware of Annie’s fixation, begins a series of controlling and manipulative actions, such as monitoring her phone calls and possibly dummying up a medical record that indicates Annie was once addicted to Xanax. Is he Gaslighting her? Or is Annie going off the deep end like Susannah before her? Is Colin, now nineteen, the sweet, sensitive young man Annie believes he is? Or, is he in some way responsible for his mother’s death? And, who is the mystery man in the photo? Were he and Susannah involved and could he have had something to do with her death?

Questions abound in this tightly wrapped thriller by author, J.A. Schneider, keeping the reader on the edge of her seat, turning pages breathlessly. Into The Dark is another tour de force for Schneider, whose novels invariably keep this reader up into the wee smalls, unable to put the book down. Into the Dark is highly recommended for thriller and mystery lovers as are all the other Schneider novels I’ve read.

Five big shiny gold stars (if I could give it six, I would!)

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