It's been ten years since Tessa's best friend's cousin was murdered by the Ohio River Monster. And it was Tessa and Callie's testimonies that put the killer away, earning him the death sentence. Tessa left Pennsylvania shortly after, taken in by her grandmother in Florida, with no plans to return. But news that her father is dying is just the thing to force the teen back to the dead end town she was raised in.
Her arrival coincides with news that new evidence in the Ohio River Monster case is being considered and that Wyatt Stokes has finally been granted an appeal. It's news Tessa doesn't welcome, but it does force her to consider the statement she made all those years ago. And when another girl is found, murdered in much the same way as the Ohio River Monster's victims, she starts to wonder if the right man is really behind bars.
I found out last fall that Kara Thomas (aka Kara Taylor) had a new book coming out and I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Prep School Confidential was fantastic and definitely made Thomas/Taylor a must read for me. And even though The Darkest Corners promised to be much darker than the boarding school mystery, we all know that wouldn't turn me off.
As promised by the publicity and the title, The Darkest Corners was dark indeed. Tessa and Callie both suffer long lasting effects of having been partial witnesses to a murder that occurred when they were just eight years old. What's more, we learn that Tessa's time in Fayette definitely wasn't happy and the time just after the trial got markedly worse for her and her family.
Tessa's father was already in prison by the time the Ohio River Monster started stalking and killing young women in the Fayette area. She, her sister, and her mother lived together in a tense existence. And it wasn't long after the case that Tessa's beloved sister, Jos, ran away from home. Shortly after that, Tessa and her mother were evicted and forced to live in their car, which eventually led to Tessa being taken in by her grandmother. So when the story starts, Tessa hasn't seen or heard from either her sister or her mother in a decade. That'd take a toll on anyone!
Tessa is a fairly complex character, as is her friend Callie. Thomas does a really great job building them both and showing just how the case has affected the progression of their lives and their personalities over the course of ten years. Callie, for example, presents a great front but turns out to be a total mess underneath and isn't interested in letting Tessa in until another murder occurs. And once that happens our teen leads begin their own investigation, somewhat heedless of the danger it could mean to them both. That recklessness also comes from a sense of responsibility both girls feel as a result of testifying against Wyatt Stokes.
The Darkest Corners, while marketed to teens and featuring teen leads, is definitely one I think will (and should) appeal to a much broader audience. The mystery is well built, the tension and suspense are fabulous, and the characters are rich and well rounded - in other words, The Darkest Corners has all right pieces you need for a great thriller!