The Darkest Hour - Katherine Howell

PARAMEDIC Lauren Yates stumbles into big trouble when, on night duty, she discovers a body in an alley and the killer nearby. Because she knows the murderer – he is Thomas Werner, her sister s volatile, dangerous ex-boyfriend – and he threatens Lauren tha

PARAMEDIC Lauren Yates stumbles into big trouble when, on night duty, she discovers a body in an alley and the killer nearby.

Because she knows the murderer - he is Thomas Werner, her sister's volatile, dangerous ex-boyfriend - and he threatens Lauren that if she tells anyone he is the killer, he will murder her sister and her sister's young daughter.

Lauren knows he means it, even though he is the little girl's father.

So, when the police turn up, she keeps quiet, and even lies at the inquest into the death.


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But when, some months later a stabbing victim tells Lauren with his dying breath that he, too, was attacked by Thomas, she knows she can't stay quiet any longer.

The Darkest Hour (�6.99, Pan) is a quality crime thriller which brings us a slightly darker vision of an Australian city's suburbs than we are used to in TV soaps Neighbours and Home and Away.

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Author Katherine Howell is a former Sydney paramedic and is set to do for that profession what US author Patricia Cornwell did for forensic pathologists.

She gives us plenty of professional details about the daily work of a paramedic, and plenty of personal detail makes her characters highly believable, with the strengths and flaws that everyone has.

She also knows how to rack up the tension so the reader can hardly bear to put the book down.

Lauren finds herself in danger as Thomas comes after her, but she gets support from her ambulance partner Joe and from the detective in charge of the murder investigations, Ella Marconi.

Can they catch Thomas before he gets to Lauren, her sister Kristi and niece, Felise?

The situation is further complicated for Lauren as she falls for Joe, who is engaged to someone else.

And Marconi has her own problems. She is waiting to find out the result of an internal inquiry into her shooting of a villain in a previous investigation. Her much coveted place in the Sydney homicide squad is at risk.

- LINDSAY JONES

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