Reviewed by: Gary Sorkin, Pacific Book Review
From the prolific keyboard of author Don Castle emerges the second Jack Somers mystery novel, this one titled Dark Soul. Set outside of Dallas, Texas with the characteristic style of Castle’s writing building the basis for suspense, this story is seen through the eyes of Jake Somers as he learns firsthand the meaning of the term “Dark Soul.”
As police activity, crimes and murders around a typically docile suburb called Bryan Point begins to escalate with many odd occurrences, and when a young girl being used by the police as an informant mysteriously goes missing, detective-turned-private-investigator Jake Somers is called upon by the chief of police to help unravel the reasons behind the criminal events. Somers’ investigation leads him to an electronic company which has a contract for the police car radio system, a wealthy land owner, a city plan for expanding the interstate highway, and further learns of previous criminal behavior by certain individuals in Silicon Valley, California. Things heat up when two officers are murdered, and a third is found with a single gunshot wound to his head as an apparent suicide. To add an element of demonic evil to the plot, the haunting sounds of a tortured woman’s scream being held hostage is eerily overheard by some two-bit vandals during a botched break-in to the corporate office of the electronics firm.
Along with the help of the FBI, the DA’s office and even the Highway Department, Somers orchestrates a plan to overcome the evil forces of the “Dark Soul” – a term used by investigators to describe an individual with psychopathic criminal intent, no conscience and no regard for the people that get in his way. As things go wrong during the execution of Somers’ plan, what happens next in the novel becomes the foundation for the suspenseful climax cleverly foreshadowed but seldom anticipated, making Dark Soul a rewarding read for those who enjoy well developed mystery novels with clearly defined characters.
In Don Castle’s first Jake Somers novel, Pecan Gap, Castle personified Somers’ Mercedes Benz to a point of almost making it a character in the book. Here, in Dark Soul, an adopted dog, Tug, begins to take on a roll and responsibility which eventually leads him to a heroic action during the climax. I find Castle not only adds a bit of comic relief during the novel but also brings a realistic human element to Somers; being the kind of guy most all people will come to respect with his values and judgment. Jake Somers is not the fast talking PI, but rather the pensive, analytical type that sees below the surface of the actions and motivation of those he comes in contact with. The reader is easily drawn to his confidence, mannerisms and bravery when faced with eminent danger and moral choices.
Dark Soul is a rewarding read; those wishing to spend a few hours diving into the story will emerge with a highly satisfying experience, almost wishing there was more for enjoyment. I am hopeful that more will be coming in future Jake Somers novels and Tug gets a frisky pat on his head and a treat for being such a “good boy.”