A Map of the Dark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

A new series with a new star, Elsa Myers, FBI agent. She has a lot on her plate and a lot of her past left to navigate but there is a girl missing and a killer on the loose. She reaches out to Detective Eli for help on this case or rather he reaches out to her. It takes us across the boroughs of NYC on a search for a killer that has been operating for years. A lot of the book focuses on Elsa and her own personal issues but it ties together nicely with the story. This is a series I will be keeping up with.
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I wish this book came with a trigger warning because I had a hard time reading the chapter's on Elsa's past. If I had known it included that, I would not have requested it. I thought I was going to be reading a thriller about missing teenagers and the FBI agent that tries to save them, but the Elsa childhood flashbacks triggered bad emotions for me. All that aside, I think it would have been better to focus more on the present and less on the past. The concept of the thriller was interesting, girl goes missing, is she the first or have there been others? There is some chemistry between Elsa and her new partner and then the brother gets thrown in. It was interesting, good but not great.
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I found this book interesting but not my absolute favorite. I felt it went into Elsa’s past more than necessary which took away from the story. It was good but wasn’t great.
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This one is well-titled.  It is indeed dark - and I liked it a lot.  It's the first in a series, and as such there's a lot of exposition of the characters of FBI agent Elsa Meyers and Lex Cole, the detective she's reluctantly partnered with for the investigation of the disappearance of a young girl.  Elsa specializes in investigating missing children, and as the book progresses we begin to understand why as her own past is revealed through a series of flashbacks interspersed with the current narrative.  There are multiple mysteries going on here, and this is a compelling read as Elsa and Lex race to try to find a missing girl during the critical first few days she's missing, and as we anxiously read to find out just what happened in Elsa's past that left her so damaged, both physically and emotionally.  It will be interesting to see where the series goes from here.  

My thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for providing a copy for an unbiased review.
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Elsa is an FBI agent specializing in lost children, and a history in her own childhood that has left her emotionally and physically scarred. When a local girl, Ruby, is missing Elsa joins in the hunt. But things become even more urgent when her own niece, Mel, disappears as well. A story that illustrates the threads of childhood and their forever connection to our present.
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I really enjoyed Last Night by Karen Ellis, so I wanted to read her prior book, A Map of the Dark.  And dark it was indeed.  I found myself interested in the story, but not enjoying the read.  I don't know if hopeless is the word I'm searching for, but the mysteries were dark.  The mystery of Elsa's childhood is told in flashbacks as she prepares to face her father's impending death due to illness.  There is the backstory of her mother's abuse and her father's inability to stop it. Elsa's self harming, and inability to form relationships with men made my skin crawl. And then there is Elsa's current case (as an FBI agent) of missing girls. When her own niece becomes wrapped up in the search for two of the missing girls, is when the book starts to take off.  It's a testimony to how realistically Ms. Ellis writes, and her writing  and handling of the subject matter was the very thing I enjoyed about Last Night, However, I just didn't enjoy A Map of the Dark as much as her second novel.
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I was initially ready to enjoy this book. Sadly, female FBI agents still aren't run-of-the-mill to read about, and the author had some skill with setting the scene. 

I never got a read on Elsa's young partner for the case. And in the end, the book was much more about Elsa's backstory than it was the current case. LOTS of flashbacks, which at this point for me have to be done judiciously not to annoy me, and the biggest mystery was why Elsa was so desperate to dig around in the house that she grew up in, recently sold by her dying father.

So, the root of this book is child abuse. That's why I've spoiler-warninged the review. This abuse left me more annoyed than sympathetic for several reasons. First, Elsa totally exonerates her father of any responsibility for the abuse that her mother dished out. Second, the "twist" at the end of the book is that Elsa has killed her mother and has been searching for the murder weapon all book long. Elsa tolerated abuse because she thought it would keep her mother from messing with her little sister. As soon as her sister was slapped once, Elsa snapped and killed her mother with a knife. So, I did not have an awesome childhood and this scenario felt frankly ridiculous to me. First, the abuse, while definitely abuse, did not feel all that bad to me- I know this is a horrible thing to say, but as abuse goes, I've seen worse. For this sort of thing to lead to a murder as soon as a sibling is involved- let's just say that a whole lot more parents would be dead if this was remotely realistic. My suspension of disbelief could no longer be suspended, and I ended up annoyed instead of shocked or sympathetic. It felt over-the-top melodramatic.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. I always enjoy reading police procedurals and this new series novel, focusing on an FBI agent sounded like a story I would enjoy. It had all the right elements but I found the pace a bit slow and hard to get into at first. I did finish it because I wanted to know what happened but it was not a book that I would find myself thinking about once I finished it.
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A Map of the Dark is the first entry into The Searcher's series which explores the cops and agents that work on missing children cases. This book is pretty good but the second one doesn't live up to the quality of the first one.
Elsa is dragged away from her father's deathbed to help find a missing girl who was snatched n her way home from work. Things get messier when a second girl goes missing. Are the girls alive? Can Elsa catch the abductor before the case becomes personal?
Karen Ellis constructs a thrilling tale giving scenes through Elsa's eyes while showing you bits that are happening with the girls. The later section provides tension and propel the pacing. I was on my toes worried about the girls and what would happen.
I enjoyed this tale and hope later entries will be the same quality as this one.
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This is perfect for fans of Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI, etc, it reads just like an episode of those types of shows. Someone goes missing and FBI agent Elsa begins the hunt to find them. In this case her unsub preys on teenage girls, and Elsa teams up with local police officer Lex to track down and find the missing girls. In addition to the case, we also follow Elsa's journey through her own childhood trauma as her father is terminally ill. The stress of her father's approaching death and the case force Elsa to face her own childhood trauma and bring up demons from her past.



As a fan of crime drama television, I enjoyed this. The characters had a good amount of baggage they each had to work through. This aided in the character development, which I thought was pretty good. As far as plot goes, I didn't find this terribly suspenseful. I won't spoil the mystery/thriller part, but I did find this fairly predictable. As stated above it plays out much like the crime shows I mentioned. Don't get me wrong I highly enjoy those shows and watch them regularly, but I find those fairly predictable as well.



If you like lighter less violent, non-creepy thrillers, this is a good read. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I will say there are quite a few things that could be trigger warnings in this book: child abuse, cutting, physcological abuse, kidnapping, drug use and abuse. Reader be warned.
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FBI agent Elsa Myers is a very dark character and I found it hard to like her and relate to her.  She has dark secrets in her past and as her father lays in a hospital, terminally ill, Elsa gets a call from the NYPD to assist on a case involving missing teens.  Much of what happens in this solid police procedural dredges up Elsa's past.  Lex Cole, her partner on the case is the perfect counterpoint to Elsa.

This is the start of a new series for the author!
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I read through many positive reviews of this book and was still amazed at how great it was. For me, this was an edge of your seat thriller that I couldn't put down. I really enjoyed getting to know Elsa and her family and the turmoil she has dealt with throughout her life. The ending was a shocker to me as well and I am so excited to start on the next in this hopefully long-term series!
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What a chilling storyline so very well told by the author.  Full of suspense that keeps you reading to the very end.
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Loved it!

Flawed characters, teenagers, kidnapping, murder, serial killer, life and death, cancer.

I loved the characters, searching for answers, struggling with life.

Glad Dark is in the title, because it’s not only the villain that hides in the dark.

I am so happy this is a series because I want a whole lot more of it.

Elsa, her new partner and friend, Lex…and his brother, David. she doesn’t have much of a personal life, doesn’t strive to have one, discourages those who try to get close, until Lex who manages to earn her trust.

Deep, dark secrets.

So glad I have the next story ready and waiting…and I will begin NOW.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis.
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Elsa is one of the most powerful and sympathetic characters I've read. She has deep personal troubles due to a violent upbringing. Instead of turning against others, she becomes a respected FBI agent, all the while hurting herself and hiding her physical and emotional scars from the world. I was especially struck by the descriptions of her abuse and subsequent self-mutilation (cutting), the constant dread that it would never end. "You can't talk your way out of it, or wish your way out of it, or forgive your way out of it though you can try and try and try." Elsa simply cannot allow herself to feel joy or hope or friendship, though there's a glimmer towards the end that there may be some in her future. The missing girls story was quite suspenseful, and the last half of the novel really took off so that I couldn't put it down until I finished. I'm picking up the next one in the series right now.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Mulholland Books, for a e-galley copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
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SVU on Steroids

There are some serious issues broached in this tale of child abduction, including the concerted efforts of law enforcement to recover the victims and prevent tragedy. I am reluctant to go into detail to avoid spoilers but abuse and bullying play large roles in this tough story. Not just the teens are victims!
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Such a fantastic thriller and kept me dug into this book. I've never read anything by this author but I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.
Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a honest review.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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Thanks netgalley for another Karen Ellis book..  Enjoyed Elsa as a character, She is vulnerable and tough at the same time.  Her life is in turmoil, yet she is finally able to share a small part of her life with Lex.
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I really enjoyed reading "A Map of the Dark" by Karen Ellis.  The author did a great job of making the main character, Elsa, draw the reader in.  There was so much suspense in this book, with the missing girls, and Elsa's background also.  I am reading another book by her right now.
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