by Rana Asfour
When Rob Sinclair offered me a pre-release copy of his new book 'Dark Fragments’, I was over the moon. I’d read his ‘Enemy’ series, three espionage thrillers featuring Carl Logan and I had loved every single one of them. I couldn’t wait to start on this one too.
Released yesterday (November 7) by Bloodhound Books on all reading platforms, ‘Dark Fragments’ is Rob Sinclair’s first stand-alone novel. It is a psychological thriller that involves murder, family secrets, betrayal, money, revenge and a whole lot of scratching below the surface. It is a novel that keeps a reader on their toes and with its short concise chapters, readers will be able to get through it in one sitting. In fact, once you pick it up and tuck in, you’ll not want to put it back down.
In ‘Dark Fragments’ Sinclair has taken a big risk – and come up trumps - relaying the novel in the first person, which provides the reader with only Ben’s point of view the entire time. However, the chapters in which Ben talks to an unnamed character in one instance commenting on key events in his life and in another setting up the reader for what is yet to come, are ingenuous and save the book from falling into the stagnation of a monotonous unreliable diary of one man’s life. Instead these chapters transpire to be key stations whereby the reader gets to delve into Ben’s real psyche in order to keep up with his reasoning.
‘Dark Fragments’ is Rob Sinclair’s fourth book and by all accounts his best and strongest yet. On par with ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ – albeit a male equivalent - this will strike a note with readers who enjoyed both books. Although it is a much darker, more fast-paced read than either of the mentioned books, ‘Dark Fragments’ is a psychological thriller with twists and turns that will have you reeling from one page to the next on a roller coaster ride that does not disappoint. Another resounding success for this brilliant writer!
The way we bottle up emotions in this day and age, the way we shy away from conflict, it makes things worse, because the end result is so much more extreme - Ben in 'Dark Fragments'
ABOUT THE NOVEL:
If I have three pounds and an ice-cream costs one pound, how many ice-creams will each of us have?
At first glance it seems that Ben Stephens is a lucky man: he is husband to a beautiful woman, father to two adorable young children, owner of a luxurious home (with perks) and a lucrative consultant lauded as ‘the future of the team’ at a prestigious firm. However, it doesn’t take long into the book to figure that Ben Stephens may in fact be the unluckiest man on the planet.
Early on in the novel, it transpires that Ben’s first wife - love of his life Alice - mother of his older child Harry was murdered in their home seven years prior. Police believed it to be the work of a serial killer due to the positioning of the body and the single white feather the killer had left behind. No one had been convicted, arrested or charged in connection with Alice’s murder and Ben had been left to pick up the shards of his shattered life and try to move on for the sake of his son.
Seven years on and Ben is remarried and has a three-year-old daughter, Chloe, from his second wife, Gemma - a great mother to both children. However the cracks in Ben's life are starting to show on the surface of his idyllic life. Not only has he been unable to get over Alice’s death – he still sees her in his recurring nightmares - but he has also managed to stumble into a business partnership with well-known criminal Callum O’Brady, sinking himself into thousands of pounds of debt which the dangerous, violent and vindictive Irish brute is demanding that Ben repay- and soon.
Desperate, Callum comes clean about his situation to wife Gemma begging her for her help. She is after all the daughter of his boss, managing partner James Whitely. After eventually agreeing to help him out, Ben secures the money. However, another series of unfortunate events – which by now Ben and the reader know is inevitable, culminate with a severe beating for Ben at the hands of O’Brady’s bodyguards and the doubling of the debt. To add to Ben's woes, he returns home to find that Gemma, fed up with his lies and incessant problems, has packed his bags and kicked him out of the house.
Amidst all this turmoil his twin sister, detective inspector Danielle (Dani), with whom he has never had a ‘straightforward relationship’ shows up at his door after a four-year absence. She arrives with new information regarding Alice’s murder and the suspected identity of the killer who has struck again; a guy by the name of Mickey Egan, another of Callum O’Brady’s henchmen and ‘a truly repulsive excuse for a human being’.
Dani enlists the help of her brother to bring O’Brady to justice in exchange for protection not only from the thug and his goons but also from prosecution regarding a recent physical assault that Ben, heavily drunk and unprovoked, had launched on a childhood nemesis. Trapped into a corner, and quickly running out of options Ben agrees to help the police.
Predictably, things don’t turn out as planned and more blood and broken bones ensue. And to make matters worse, by this point not only is Ben’s life in danger but also the lives of everyone else connected to him. By this point, Ben is angry: at Gemma, at Alice’s killer, at O’Brady, at his sister and the police and Cara - a woman he is sleeping with and who he describes as the biggest mistake of his life. Ben decides it’s about time to finally take matters into his own hands to see himself out of his predicament. And that’s when it all goes berserk and the novel picks up and accelerates all the way to the end.
‘So when did you become aware of this all-consuming anger? There must be a point you can take yourself back to and say “that was the moment when things really changed for me.”’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rob Sinclair began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons. Visit his website HERE.