Pitch Black by Susan Crandall

21 Jun

Favorite Lines:”In defiance of the downpour, dark smears of mud refused to let go of their clothes and skin. Fishbelly white. It was a term used by her grandfather. She’d never realized what it meant until now. Their lips, darkened by the cold, contrasted grotesquely to the pasty, translucent whiteness of their faces.” (p. 17 ARC)

Madison Wade and her teenage son, Ethan, moved to Buckeye, Tenn., to get away from the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia to loosen Ethan up and introduce him to a better life. Instead they find a community unwilling to accept them.

Ethan makes a friend, Jordan, in the small town. He knows something is bothering Jordan and agrees to go camping with Jordan’s stepfather and a few other teens. It isn’t long before four teens stumble out of the woods with no adult in sight.

Sheriff Gabe Wyatt is falling in love with Madison and wants to become a part of her life. His idyllic thoughts of making a future with Madison are put on the back burner when he investigates the death of a popular townsman.

Clues soon point towards Ethan and it’ll be up to his mother to find the real killer.

Pitch Black is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Susan Crandall. It is cleanly written and exciting. The romance is steady throughout the book between a single mother and a bachelor.

I loved Madison. She’s an editor who has given it all up for her adopted child. She’s left a lucrative position for a small town job. But most appealing for me was Madison’s belief that her relationship with Ethan should come before any other. Madison’s budding relationship to Gabe is important, but not enough to risk her child, and I respect (and agree with) that.

I appreciate the way Gabe respects Madison. He’s a strong alpha male, but he never steps on Madison. He sits back while she makes decisions and supports her. He doesn’t butt in when she’s dealing with Ethan; he lets her be the mom, acknowledging that she can handle life without him but making himself available if she wants him.

I knew who the killer was early on, but instead of detracting from the story, it made me more emotionally involved. I wanted to shake a few of the characters and ask them why they couldn’t see what was going on around them. I wanted to knock a few heads as I watched (from the outside) and figured out the hell that was teenage life.

Pitch Black is a great read. It’s one of those books that left me thinking of ways to share it. It’s not snarky, nor is it filled with bloody battles. It’s a grown woman trying her best to raise a teenager in a small community, in which she’s an outsider, while a murder investigation takes place. It’s a bachelor deciding that there is nothing wrong with dating a woman with a child and a woman finding a way to fit a man into her complicated relationship with her son.

How can it not be good? Pitch Black is a great book for any time of the year.

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