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Garden of Darkness    by Anne Frasier order for
Garden of Darkness
by Anne Frasier
Order:  USA  Can
Onyx, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

After her father's death and her lover's betrayal, Rachel Burton is determined to leave Tuonela for good. The safety of her unborn child is her utmost concern and she's adamant that the father will have no further influence in either her or her baby's life. But when a body is discovered in the woods, her expertise as the town's only medical examiner delays her departure. The local authorities are eager to label the killing as an animal attack, but Rachel knows better. No predator could have removed the victim's skin so expertly - skin that has yet to be located. To appease the mayor, however, as well as expedite her departure, Rachel goes along with their sanitized statement.

But the deaths continue. As the news hits various sources, more and more people are drawn to Tuonela to view the exhumed remains of Richard Manchester (better known as the Pale Immortal). Could the so-called vampire who established the town decades before be responsible for these latest killings? Or should the blame once again focus on Evan Stroud, the troubled recluse who suffers from porpheria, and whose increasingly obsessive behaviour points to a man losing his grip on reality. Evan has never cared what others think of him and even less so now that he's moved back to Old Tuonela. Even his love for Rachel Burton is overshadowed by his fanatical need to discover the truth surrounding Richard Manchester. Now all Evan cares about are the sibilant whispers of the dead enticing him with frightening urgency to 'hurry, hurry, hurry ... over here ... dig over here'.

Evan's deterioration as he succumbs to the dark influences within Old Tuonela makes for gripping and spine tingling reading, although the ultimate revelations surrounding Richard Manchester's history, his motivations, and ultimately his ties to various locals, seemed a bit rushed. The author chose to shift too much focus on outsiders who didn't really have as much at stake as Rachel, Evan and his teenage son Graham, all of whom were so integral in the first book (Pale Immortal) and the continuing storyline. Still, Garden of Darkness is a richly detailed and darkly compelling tale and Frasier once again masterfully weaves a sense of pervasive evil as past and present collide, old secrets are unearthed and the Pale Immortal comes home to collect his due.

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