Title: Dark Fragments
Author: Rob Sinclair
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Publication date: 8 November 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Dark Fragments: an edge of your seat thriller from the best-selling author of The Enemy Series
Murder. Money. Revenge.Outwardly, Ben Stephens appears to be a normal, hard-working family man. In reality, his life has been in turmoil since the murder of his wife, Alice, seven years ago. The killer was never caught.Now re-married – to the woman he was having an affair with while still married to Alice – Ben’s life is once again spiraling out of control, and he’s become heavily indebted to an unscrupulous criminal who is baying for Ben’s blood.When Ben’s estranged twin sister, a police detective, unexpectedly returns to his life, asking too many questions for comfort, it becomes clear that without action, Ben’s life will soon reach a crisis point from which there will be no return.In order to avoid falling further into the mire, Ben must examine the past if he is to survive the present – but just how much pressure can one man take before he breaks?
Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of Dark Fragments.
Dark Fragments is the new, standalone psychological thriller from Rob Sinclair, author of the Enemy trilogy. Having enjoyed the Enemy books, I was very keen to read Dark Fragments.
I should first say that anything I write about this story will be, to some degree, a spoiler. I think this is the kind of story that benefits from knowing as little about it as possible and I would actually recommend reading the book before reading any further!
As the tale begins, we are introduced to the protagonist, hard-working family man, Ben Stephens. Whilst outwardly all appears normal, we quickly discover that Ben’s life has been marred by tragedy. Seven years earlier Alice, his first wife and mother to his eldest son, was brutally murdered in their marriage bed and the killer never caught. Having had his life ripped apart, Ben has worked hard to create stability for his young son and is fortunate to have a good career, a beautiful second wife and two loving children.
Having dealt with awful personal tragedy, it would be a very hard-hearted reader who does not feel a huge amount of sympathy for Ben.
However, the cracks quickly become visible. His second marriage is failing, as is his career. He has also become indebted to a local gangster, Callum O’Grady, which has put both his and his family’s welfare under threat. After spending seven years trying to rebuild his life, it is now quickly coming apart at the seams.
Dark Fragments follows Ben’s story as he tries to untangle the web that has become his life.
Ben is a very interesting protagonist. Whilst I initially felt a great deal of sympathy for him, I gradually felt a hint of frustration filtering through. Ben feels very hard done by (for good reason), yet he seems to blame everyone but himself for his current predicament. He is one of life’s victims, seeing himself as befalling more than his own share of bad luck. As a reader it seems obvious that a lot of that bad luck is self-inflicted, caused by his own poor decisions. He tries to justify those decisions as being necessary due to the manner in which people are treating him, however his reasoning smacks of someone who is simply incapable of taking any real responsibility for his own actions. Ben displays a lot of rage and anger issues, along with a propensity for holding grudges. I reached the conclusion that Ben is a deeply narcissistic character, totally uninterested in anything but his own wants, needs and issues. He claims to hold affection for people and to worry about their safety, yet his actions contradict his words as he repeatedly puts his friends and family in danger.
There are a small number of supporting characters within the story, yet we only really learn about them from Ben’s point of view, giving a biased version of those persons. The most interesting character for me was Ben’s estranged twin sister, Dani. A successful police detective, she was his first wife’s best friend and yet both she and Ben have drifted apart since Alice’s death. Having not seen or spoken to each other for a number of years, she suddenly reappears in his life, leaving the reader to speculate as to whether this is pure coincidence or whether there is an ulterior motive, given Ben’s entanglement with the infamous Birmingham crime lord.
Told for the most part from Ben’s point of view, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable as the book delved further into Ben’s precarious state of mind. He is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator. Ben’s tale is interspersed with chapters detailing a conversation or interview between Ben and someone else, possibly a psychiatrist or a policeman, which assists in gradually peeling back the layers to Ben’s story. The story is well-written and told in short chapters, which prevents the story from meandering and allows the tension to gradually build to an unexpected and shocking finale.
Dark Fragments is an absorbing and suspenseful psychological thriller. It is a dark and shocking story and I found some of the scenes quite disturbing, particularly with regards to the level of violence depicted at times. A frustrating, but ultimately satisfying tale that will leave the reader hooked until the last page. Recommended for fans of psychological and crime thrillers.
About the Author
Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller.
Rob’s first novel, Dance with the Enemy, was published in June 2014 and is the first in the Enemy Series following embattled intelligence agent Carl Logan. Rise of the Enemy, the second book in the series, was released in April 2015, with the third book, Hunt for the Enemy, being released in February 2016. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.
Rob’s latest novel, the pulsating psychological thriller Dark Fragments, released by Bloodhound Books in November 2016, has been described as ‘clever’ and ‘chilling’ and an ‘expertly crafted’ story.
Rob 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. He 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.
Rob’s website is www.robsinclairauthor.com and he can be followed on twitter at @rsinclairauthor