The Darkest Corner by Liliana Hart

The Darkest Corner by Liliana HartThe Darkest Corner (Gravediggers #1) by Liliana Hart
Series: Gravediggers #1
Published by Pocket Books on May 23rd 2017
Pages: 368
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Deacon Tucker is a dead man walking. A former black ops agent, he was disavowed and stripped of all honor before being recruited as a Gravedigger. But his honor and good name no longer matter, because no one knows he’s alive, and he’ll never get the recognition he deserves. His mission is simple: save the world or die trying. And for God’s sake, don’t ever fall in love. That’s a rule punishable by death. The kind of death a man can’t be brought back from.

Tess Sherman is the only mortician in Last Stop, Texas. She has no idea how Deacon Tucker ended up in her funeral home, but she’ll eat her hat if he’s only a funeral home assistant. Deacon is dangerous, deadly, and gorgeous. And she knows her attraction to him can only end in heartache.

Deacon is on a mission to stop the most fatal terror attack the world has ever known—what’s known as The Day of Destiny—a terrorist’s dream. But when he discovers Tess has skills he can use to stop them, he has to decide if he can trust her with secrets worth dying for. And, most important, he has to decide if he can trust her with his heart.

It takes an appreciation of macabre, black humour to like this book; thankfully the dry kind that I love can sort of easily be translated into a love for this kind of dark comedy.

In contrast to the sombre, almost-sinister cover which made me wonder if ‘The Darkest Corner’ was a murder mystery or a thriller, there’s quite a bit of wry, self-deprecating humour in this, as characters run the gamut from dark and shady to weird and mentally unstable. It’s eccentricity exemplified and probably not a story for people who love straight-out romantic suspense and hear-pounding thrillers but one that meanders and winds around the daily lives of Tess Sherman, her relatives and their ilk, while keeping a mysterious group of men called the Gravediggers who’ve died and come back to life, all in Tess’s back garden, so to speak.

We’re given the odd life that Tess leads, right down to her babbling personality and the actual happenings in a funeral home, except that it’s suddenly populated by men whom she can’t understand, not least a mysterious leader named Deacon Tucker who never gives straight answers when she needs it. Her funeral home business is, unbeknownst to her, the perfect cover for what they do and Tess is slowly but surely waking up to things that go bump in the night—and not of the supernatural kind.

I’m reminded of 6-feet under in its morbid glory, with all the tangential, long descriptions of peripheral characters who add to the quirky mood of the story but not to the plot, which is surprisingly slow-going after the actual introduction to the Gravediggers. For the first half, I was entertained somewhat and undoubtedly en route to boredom, though the cloak-and-dagger conspiracy theories and the spy stuff did get interesting, interspersed with the small-town life that Liliana Hart tries to bring to life. Unsurprisingly, it was Deacon and his unhappy band of operators that captured my imagination, and I think we simply didn’t see enough of them in this book. I was straining the end of my leash for the action and suspense to begin, given that there is a real threat out there and it only materialised in the last quarter of it.

Hart however, has already written a potential series of books into this opener, with sufficient characters have enough depths to plumb until the daylight fades. So while I’m a little on the fence with this slow start, I’m nevertheless eager to dig deeper into this strange band of brothers. Just more of the action and the spooky spy-stuff please.