Review: ‘The Darkness of Others’ tells twisted pandemic tale

Aug 29, 2022, 7:36 AM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 6:46 am

“The Darkness of Others,” by Cate Holahan (Grand Central Publishing)

The pandemic has lasted long enough for pandemic-era novels to come out — Louise Erdrich and Jodi Picoult are among those who have written them. In Cate Holahan’s thriller, “The Darkness of Others,” readers are faced with a twisting murder mystery that happens to take place in New York City in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the dead body of acclaimed director Nate Walker is discovered in the opening pages, his wife, Melissa, goes missing, presumably to avoid arrest for murdering him.

But Imani Banks, best friend of Melissa, is convinced her friend is innocent.

Raising Imani’s suspicions, Tonya Sayre, a waitress Imani’s chef husband allows into their home after laying her off, turns out to have connections to Nate. Imani determines that it’s only a matter of time until she sleuths out who the real killer is, who may be in her own home.

“The Darkness of Others” is divided into three parts, the first mainly setting the scene and introducing the characters — perhaps two of the book’s biggest faults.

The setting serves as a reminder of the eerie feelings of the early pandemic. It’s a miserable, isolated, COVID-19 wintertime, a time of those igloo outdoor eating spaces, DIY haircuts and paranoia about breaking 6 feet of social distancing.

The author puts a thoughtful note at the end about her choice to set the book during the pandemic, but each reference to the early stages is more distracting and painful than the last.

Meanwhile, Holahan bounces between third-person views of the different characters, whose storylines wrap and twist around one another. There are so many names that only halfway through part two can you keep with all the storylines. By part three, it’s pretty clear who the killer is and that Imani will figure it out, find Melissa and save the day. Roll the credits.

Holahan took a risk with this book, and while it does have its clever moments, the biggest takeaway is that it may still be too soon for some to write a pandemic novel. We’re still knee-deep in “unprecedented times.”


For more AP entertainment news, go to

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Police officers stand outside a Target store as a group of people protest across the street,...

Associated Press

Pride becomes a minefield for big companies, but many continue their support

Many big companies, including Target and Bud Light's parent, are still backing Pride events in June despite the minefield that the monthlong celebration has become for some of them.

2 days ago

FILE - Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden plays music on a phone as he arrives to spe...

Associated Press

Biden, looking to shore up Hispanic support, faces pressure to get 2024 outreach details right

Joe Biden vowed in 2020 to work “like the devil” to energize Hispanic voters, and flew to Florida seven weeks before Election Day to do just that.

2 days ago

Editorial members of the Austin American-Statesman's Austin NewsGuild picket along the Congress Ave...

Associated Press

Correction: US-Gannett Walkout story

Journalists at two dozen local newspapers across the U.S. walked off the job Monday to demand an end to painful cost-cutting measures and a change of leadership at Gannett, the country's biggest newspaper chain.

2 days ago

FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...

Associated Press

Saudi Arabia reducing global oil supply, could spell higher prices for US drivers

Saudi Arabia will reduce how much oil it sends to the global economy, taking a unilateral step to prop up the sagging price of crude.

3 days ago

This photo provided by Robert Wilkes, owner of a house boat management company, shows smoke rising ...

Associated Press

Houseboats catch fire while docked at Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell

More than half a dozen house boats momentarily caught fire at a popular boating destination on the Utah-Arizona line on Friday.

5 days ago

File - Women work in a restaurant kitchen in Chicago, Thursday, March 23, 2023. On Friday, the U.S....

Associated Press

US hiring, unemployment jump in May and what that says about the economy

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Spinal fusion surgery has come a long way, despite misconceptions

As Dr. Justin Field of the Desert Institute for Spine Care explained, “we've come a long way over the last couple of decades.”


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Review: ‘The Darkness of Others’ tells twisted pandemic tale