Cover Image: Somewhere in the Dark

Somewhere in the Dark

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Member Reviews

This is R.J. Jacobs second book after the winning debut “And Then You Were Gone”. The strength in this book is the same strength as that novel which is a flawed main character that has a past that threatens their present – and whether we believe them or not.

But the characters never get away from the author in this second thriller fiction novel “Somewhere in the Dark.”

Jessie comes from a traumatic past, a past that could break anyone. Hoping to escape it all, she fixates on a music duo that includes Shelly James. She followed her and her husband everywhere, collected memorabilia, bought backstage passes. Only now she’s banned – an incident that scared the James’ into excluding her from their shows and ultimately their lives.

Hoping to move on, Jessie takes a job with a catering company that takes her right where she shouldn’t be – at the James’ celebrating their daughter’s birthday. And then Shelly is found dead. And guess who the neatly wrapped suspect is?

This book had an interesting premise and I wanted to know more about Jessie as the book went along. Jacobs does a good job of supporting and caring for his main character so their personality shines through without completely absolving them until the very end as everything wraps up with no loose ends.

The suspense really amps up at the last third of the book as the beginning helps us navigate Jessie’s world. An intriguing plot keeps up the pace until the mystery resolves itself from carefully laid clues that will make the reader want to go back to see how everything came together.

Another winner from a new writer in mystery and thriller that keeps up with the contemporaries dominating the field today.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane books for early access to this title due August 11th. Reserve your copy now.
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Somewhere in the Dark by R.J. Jacobs is exactly what a psychological thriller should be.  Jessie Duval is a 19 year old young woman who is slightly famous, in a way, because of a horrible childhood trauma she endured while in the foster care system in Tennessee.  She was locked in a closet for over a year and as result has developmental delays and psychological scars.  During her time in the closet, she was given a portable CD player which contained a single CD by Owen and Shelly James.  These country music stars became her family in her world of make believe that she lived while being held captive in the closet.  Jessie becomes a bit obsessed (understandably so) and decides to follow the James's tour.  Unfortunately. an incident occurred during a concert which landed Jessie in jail and a permanent order of protection to stay away from the country duo.  Jessie is working as a server at a party when she spots the very people she was ordered to stay away from as party guests.  What begins as an unintentional parole violation leads to Jessie becoming involved in a very serious criminal investigation.
Jacobs does an excellent job with letting inside Jessie's head.  As a reader I felt I fully understood Jessie's thoughts and actions.  There are many times when I am reading a psychological thriller and the characters actions don't make any sense.  Jessie's actions seem valid given the trauma she suffered as a child.  Jessie is a very likable character and I was definitely rooting for everything to work out for her.  I found the plot line believable.  I did not find this a story with a lot of twists, but the whole twist ending has become a bit outlandish and overdone anyway, so it was refreshing to have a straightforward story line.  All in all, it was an enjoyable satisfying read.
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I've been seeing this book making the rounds on Instagram, and with the delightfully dark cover and intriguing summary, I was thrilled to receive an eARC and quickly dove in. 

After a childhood of brutal neglect, Jessie wants nothing more than to put her past behind her; she paid the price for stalking a famous country couple on tour. She has a stable job she likes, a small apartment, and a social worker who genuinely seems to care about her (and brings her pop tarts sometimes, which is nice). When a catering job puts her in direct connection to the murder of the famous country star she's not supposed to be anywhere near, Jessie needs to find a way to prove her innocence--and her sanity--before it's too late. 

So, I loved this book, and there are a lot of things done well in terms of structure and narrative style, but what I really want to talk about is Jessie's character, because the book hinges on her voice. From her point of view, we get inside her mind as she copes with the horrible traumas of her childhood and see how they impact every move she makes on a daily basis. The fear of another person touching her was palpable, but not exploitative. I didn't feel like this was someone guessing at what it would be like to suffer from the severity of neglect, but rather an insightful, complex examination of the psychological ramifications of neglect. Through the sole perspective, we are isolated from other characters in much the same way Jessie found herself, and simple, overlooked possessions, such as a discman, became that much more significant. 

Additionally, and without giving too much away, the unraveling of the plot was well executed and believable. I appreciated the structure, the succinct chapters, and Jessie's interactions with supporting characters to propel the plot's mystery. I also loved how Nashville culture was highlighted, and found myself enjoying little cultural tidbits (lanterns and population and weather--as a lifelong upstate NY native, I'm always curious about the minute details of a place that really breathe life into the setting, and Jacobs did a wonderful job).

Overall, Somewhere in the Dark is a propulsive, guttural, striking read that will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

Big thanks to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
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4.5 The story of Jessie is addicting! I just wanted to sit and read it all in one sitting! 

Jessie's life has been hard. One thing helped her get through was and old beat up CD by Shelly and Owen James. Finely as an adult she is able to get a good job catering and has a good apartment.  During a catering party she runs into someone from her past, that she can not run into... Shelly James. After growing up and becoming adult Jessie who had become obsessed with The James, and followed their tour all around the country. Always at the show and buying their items online. She quickly became noticed and kept an eye on, her affection for the James started to creep them and then lead to an awful event at a show. Now with a keep away order she has got to get away from this party before she's found out. 
Soon Shelly James is found murdered after her own party, that jessie worked because she was convinced she should and that she was wanted there. But did she do it? or is there more at play here! Jessie needs to find answers before they pin it on her! 

This was a fantastic fast paced read! I loved that Jessie's character was likable but also so questionable. She had been through so much crap, you could understand what she was doing a little. I really enjoyed her fight to find ansewers and not just sit and let things happen. The murder just added another interesting layer to the plot, who did and why would they kill a beloved country music star. The ending was great, it all wrapped up so nicely and the end I didn't guess!

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for arc for honest review!
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This was an enjoyable book with a bit of a twisty ending.  The main character, Jessie experiences a severe childhood trauma that causes PTSD later in young adulthood and causes her to do some bad things.  When she becomes the focus of a murder investigation, it seems fitting that she did it.  There were some very slow parts, but it was otherwise a fairly quick read.  I know that the author is a psychologist, so perhaps just a bit too verbose on that part of the story.  

The upside: it was set in Nashville - a very cool city! 

Thank you to R.J. Jacobs, Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book!  This review was also published on Goodreads.
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Please note this is a 4.5.

I didn't think the day would come when I would find a thriller that I could just sit there and tear through again- it has been a rather long time! I really enjoyed this read. Jessie, the protagonist, is a wonderful character, and the author did an incredible job of portraying her with all her flaws and difficulties. His portrayal of PTSD was really well done and didn't demonise or trivialise, and it was really nice to see this done properly.

The storyline itself, while initially deceptively simple, got me in hook, line, and sinker. The eventual web of intrigue that establishes itself is a thriller of a read, and it was really fantastic. There were a lot of possible ends that it could've taken, and it keeps you guessing throughout the whole of the book. The story unfolds with incredible pacing, and it will really keep you on your toes the whole way through. I really enjoyed how the whole of the novel came together. 

The characters are pretty great too- I only feel like maybe the family at the centre of this could have been fleshed out just a tiiiiny bit more. It would have just brought that connection a little bit closer and made the eventual series of events all the more interesting. However, this was an incredible book, and a real page-turner. Well worth the read!
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Jessie is recovering from a severely traumatic childhood, including a year when she was locked in a dark closet with nothing but a Discman and a country music CD to entertain her.  She's still obsessed with those country singers, whose warm family image promises everything she hopes for, but is under court order to stay away from them after an incident at a concert.  But Jessie also has to maintain her catering job, which takes her to her idols' home one night to work as a server.  Jessie becomes the prime suspect when one of her idols is murdered.

This is a fascinating book.  It's not really a thriller, and it's not really a mystery.  It's pretty clear what is going to happen and what did happen.  But it was still a page-turner for me.  Jessie is a winning character.  She is immediately engaging and sympathetic.  The author is a psychologist, which lent detail and credibility to his description of Jessie's confinement and the effects of the confinement.  The suspense lies in whether and how Jessie will be able to break free of those effects sufficiently to clear her name.  I was rooting for Jessie all the way.

One nit:  I didn't like the author's device of having Jessie search for words and then immediately put her finger on exactly the right one.  It seemed implausible (when words are on the tip of your tongue, they tend to linger there a while), and it grew irritating.  

A quick, compulsive read.  Recommended.  

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Loved how the author started off with a backstory right from the get-go This is a fast paced read that keeps you constantly guessing until the very end. .
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A great big thank you to @netgalley @crookedlanebooks & @rjjacobs75 for sharing an ARC with me in exchange for my honest review.
I found it really cool that that R.J. Jacobs is also a psychologist.  Probably explains why his writing style really gets you into the mind of his main character here.
Let’s talk about Jessie; foster child, locked in a closet for a year, her only escape is the sounds of Owen and Shelley James, famous Nashville country signer duo in her diskman. Naturally obsession occurs from this trauma. To her, she is a part of their lives. Once found and released from the home, she follows the band « too closely » and lands herself in jail with a terrified Shelley James. After jail time comes therapy and a struggling Jessie determined to be « good ». She finds a catering job and things are going well.  All that changes when Jessie works an event with celebrities including the Owens. A family she must avoid at all costs.
Jessie does her best to keep her head down but when Shelley is found dead she quickly becomes a suspect. She knows the murder will be pinned on her unless she finds the killer...
A really good fast paced physiological thriller. Written in short chapters had me turning the pages quickly. Many twists and turns, likable and unlikable characters. I really felt Jessie’s trauma and the judgments from others that go along with it. Which begs the question; can we overcome the mistakes and trauma’s from our past?.
Highly recommend this engaging to thriller lovers! Look for this one coming out August 11 2020 !!!
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In these times of social isolation and bad news from every angle, I needed Jessie. Although she walks into mistakes over and over again, I rooted for her every step of the way. I cheered her on. As she re-emerges into life, after an unimaginable ordeal, Jessie does the best she can. Author RJ Jacobs, a Nashville psychologist, helps us contemplate why people may do the things they do— perhaps all they can do with the hand they’ve been dealt.
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Jessie’s horrific childhood shadows her still. Accused of stalking a famous country duo, her world shifts. She tries her best to live a normal life, but lands in an impossible situation. Written in first person, unreliable narrator style, but unlike a lot of current day thrillers, it’s not just plot-driven, Jessie is a well-fleshed character. Darkness knows her well. This is where Jacobs, a practicing physiologist, shines.
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Loved the pacing, loved the characterization. Being a Nashville local, I was super excited to read this. I’m glad it didn’t disappoint! The author described Nashville culture perfectly. I could picture everything in a vivid way. I think the story could have started with more of a bang, and it definitely needs some grammatical corrections prior to publication, but I’m sure that will happen!
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First of all, THAT COVER! I love it so much. I know it's trees, but it reminds me a little of dendrites (?) or nerves. So appropriate for this psychological thriller. I love the suspense and the beautiful writing, but my favorite was the damaged protagonist. The story of her childhood broke my heart. There were some great twists, and the mystery was so well done. Bravo!
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This book was a quick read but still very intriguing. The only reason I rated it less than 4 stars is because some parts were a little slow and seemed a bit unnecessary. Other than that, the plot was good and it was an entertaining read.

Jess is a very quiet and reserved person due to her dark and traumatizing past. She spent over a year of her childhood in a dark closet where a strange couple would feed her and check on her occasionally. Because of this horrible phase in her life, Jess has some difficulty expressing herself since her speaking skills were not properly developed.

The only thing that would bring her a little bit of joy during this ordeal was a Discman with a CD by Shelly and Owen James in it. She would listen to it over and over and when she was finally released from the closet, she became obsessed with Shelly and Owen. She followed their concert tour all over the country until one day when she “accidently” stabbed someone at the concert and went to jail.

After completing her sentence, Jess tried her best to have a normal life. She goes to therapy and she works for a catering company where people respect her withdrawn nature.  But one day, Jess finds out that her company will cater the party for some famous musician, and of course, Shelly and Owen are attending the party. Jess notices that Shelly seems really weird, acting strange and skittish. What is wrong with her?
A few days later, her company is hired to cater a party at Shelly and Owen’s house. Jess realizes she is being followed by a weird man and moments later she finds Shelly dead.
An investigation starts and since Jess has an unreliable past obsessing over Shelly, she becomes a suspect. 

But there are many facts pointing to other people who are very close to Shelly. 
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
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I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. Jessie's background slowly unfurls and it becomes more and more shocking. All she wants is to just live a normal life after surviving horrible neglect as a child. From her side of the story, her obsession with the Owens makes perfect sense. It just doesn't appear that way to others. I read this one quickly because the story was so compelling. Definitely recommended.
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Very fast paced, not alot of dull moments. So much adventure. I couldnt put it down. Great author, cant wait to read more by them
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This was a fast paced read that left me guessing until the end. I loved the backstory of Jessie although i wanted to know more. I really liked Jessie! 
This book had really good twists that made me keep turning the pages! 
This was my first RJ Jacobs book and I loved his writing style.
Thanks to Netgalley for my advanced ebook copy.
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Title: Somewhere In The Dark
Author: R.J Jacobs 

Provided by Netgalley & r.j Jacob's. Thank you for letting me review this book.

Somewhere In The Dark was a very easy read. It wasn't hard to sitdown and read for time on end, I wanted to keep flipping the pages. R.J Jacobs did a tremendous job with the layout and how well it was written. I felt emotionally attached to jessie and the struggles she endured as a child. She bounced around in foster care and slipped through the cracks of the system with abuse. Now that she is an adult and on her own she battles her past daily just to try and live a normal life. She seems to be doing well in her own apartment in Mashville until she works an even where celebrities will be attending. Jessie has been attached to the James family since she was a little girl. How much will her obsession cost her? Mrs. James ends up dead, did Jessie do it?
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“Somewhere In The Dark” follows the life of 19 year old Jessie. She was bounced around from foster home to foster home. She had an extremely horrific year when she was 12 and was locked in a dark closet for a year. After her traumatic childhood she has finally gotten her act together. She has her own place, and a job she loves at a catering company. 

Unfortunately for Jessie, everything goes downhill when the catering company she works for is hired to work an event for the celebrity couple she once had an unhealthy obsession with. When one of the stars end up dead, she becomes an immediate suspect in the murder. 

I did NOT want to put this book down!! I felt so bad for Jessie and was rooting for her the whole entire time. I stayed up all hours of the night to finish this book!! It is so suspenseful and there is never a dull moment!  The writing is so good I felt like I was transported into the book as I was reading it. It is a faced paced book and quick read. It had me guessing the whole time!
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I freaking loved this book 🤩 and I'd love to have a physical copy of it 😉🤞🏻 This was quite the adventurous psychological thriller I've read so far, it kept me hooked from page one. I took my time reading this, absorbing every little pieces of this dynamic situation to figure out what and how. It kept me guessing and it was a big blow to my face when I didn't realize the facts was right there! The suspense was gripping me to the core and I felt alot of sympathy for Jessie who went through so much, it killed me when nothing was going in the right direction for her! The story that explained how her reality was different from the world reality itself was like looking through her eyes. This is my first book I've read of this author and I plan on reading his past work, I really enjoyed the writing style and the pace of this one was slow-burning with thrill and suspense but done the right way I want to say, for me at least 😁
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