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3.5 out of 5 stars33
3.5 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 25 October 2008
Someone else has written a review on here that advises not to waste time reading this book when Harlan Coben is out there. Well in the last week I have read firstly a Harlan Coben novel, which admittedly I did enjoy, and then Darkhouse by Alex Barclay. Had I to choose my favourite of the two, it would undoubtedly be Darkhouse.
I don't know what all the negative reviews are about, this is an interesting, enjoyable read; perhaps not exactly fast paced and full of action, but genuinely page turning and captivating, with a surprise twist at the end. Highly recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 February 2014
Darkhouse was a book I edged my way through given the underlying tension and sense of foreboding, which left me uncertain as to whether I really wanted to find out how the story is resolved. Much of that tension is created through the intersecting storylines and juxtaposition of everyday family and village life in Ireland in the early 2000s, with the dark world of Duke Rawlins and Donnie Riggs in North Texas in the late 1980s. Barclay’s writing is vivid and well paced and balanced. The characters are nicely developed throughout the story and the interactions between them well portrayed, especially the suspicions and strains amongst the Lucchesi household, the police and the village population. There is also a great sense of place, time and social worlds in both Ireland and Texas. The key strength of the story though is the plotting, with a nice mix of carefully ordered tension, feints, and reveals that produces an edge of the seat read without descending into a gore fest. Overall, a very good crime thriller.
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on 14 January 2009
Like other reviewers I started out with high hopes for this book however these soon evaporated after crawling through the first fifty or so pages. It soon becames clear that this is a debut novel as the style of writing is at best average, at worst mediocre. The plot is just so sloooooooooow and to be honest, not really that great yet it's somehow incredibly strung out to over 500 pages in paperback form. The characters, though many in quantity, simply aren't interesting enough and the dialogue between them ranges from frequently lame to sometimes downright painful, especially that of the lightweight son. There are no strong characters to be seen anywhere apart from that of the killer - who we don't see enough of - while everyone else seems to cry whenever the slightest thing goes against them. This probably should have been a 300 page novel at most with much of the unimportant fluff removed.

Taglines such as the menacing book title, "He watches He hunts He kills" and "International Bestseller" may mislead some into thinking this is up there with the best of the American authors such as Deaver, Cornwell, Patterson etc. It isn't and some will be left high and dry. I may still yet read Alex'es second novel as she may have improved with criticism but I'll wait with bated breath for that one if or when I should see it.
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on 24 September 2010
I picked this up in a second-hand bookshop,(sorry Amazon!) taken in by glowing blurbs(which I had failed to notice were mainly Irish). The scene setting first few chapters were quite encouraging. Funny enough from an Irish writer the action set in the USA seemed much more authentic than that based in Ireland. The murderous Duke and Donnie are given a chance to develop their characters in their Texan playground, unlike everyone else. Fifty pages in everything is heading downhill. The attempt to create a flawed hero in ex-NYPD Joe, with his aching jaw, collapses so completely that you wish for the end to come soon but alas there is still 400 pages to go. Maybe Joe's wife deserves some sympathy as much for living with this loser and his nonentity of a son as for the situation he drops her into. But she is the only one. The many characters and the numerous artificial subplots are so poorly developed and so pointless that your head hurts trying to identify them and their meaningless intrusions. The attempt to create tension in the end results in an absurd melee of headless chickens frantically rushing around to no avail. The ending is so clearly cynically enginered with an eye to the next masterpiece that I swore that I wouldn't be wasting my time on it no matter what the Irish brotherhood said about it.
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on 25 May 2014
Alex Barclay writes good thrillers with great characters.

Without wanting to spoil the plot in any way this is a fast paced exciting thriller with great characters crafted around a cracking plot.

If you like a good thriller written with style and excitement you should enjoy this.
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on 5 August 2013
Darkhouse started slow but from mid story picked up and kept up from there. Worth a try. I suggest if you read this you follow up with the Caller immediately. This picks up on Joe Lucchesi and his Family from where Darkhouse ends.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2008
I was rather looking forward to reading this book. I was ultimately disappointed.

The storyline is a good one and the killer is, at best, most unpleasant.

But, the characters are poorly created and developed. Joe Lucchesi has a wimp of son, he, himself, is an unlikeable family man and his wife doesn't seem to know much about anything, yet, she's French, she's married an American, she's working in Ireland, so what went wrong?

The dialogue, too is very hit and miss. I really can't believe the son talks as he does. The only characters with any buzz are the killers and I'd really hoped they'd meet out their own view of this book at the end. Well, now we must wait for 'The Caller' which I hope is a darn site better than this book.
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on 15 October 2013
This was a very good read thoroughly enjoyed it. I had already read The Caller, which was the second novel following the same story line, but this didn't spoil my enjoyment of it.
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VINE VOICEon 12 October 2008
This is easily the dullest book I have ever had the misfortune to waste precious reading hours on. Advertised as an international bestseller I can not quote the nations I have in mind without sounding racist. this is computer schlock, you know, type in names and plot line press a button and a novel(?) pops out. Here is a 30 page short story stretched to 400, I never got half way through withour losing the will to live or turn another page. This kind of publishing must stop
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on 5 December 2007
This is a great debut novel. Whilst I agree with other reviewers that it sticks broadly to a formula, it is definitely a gripping crime thriller. I just could not put it down, and found myself reading until two in the morning having originally intended to read just to the end of the next chapter.

A New York detective opts for a "quiet life" in Ireland, which will allow his beautiful French wife to follow her own career interests. Her task is to transform a lighthouse for a high-class magazine article. Hence, the title. However, trouble follows Joe Lucchesi wherever he goes, and he soon finds himself, his family and most of the village folk of Mountcannon in grave danger from a rampaging Texan lunatic.

The characters and the interactions between them keep the book moving along at a breathless pace that leaves the reader always wondering, "What's next?"

Start reading, and you won't stop until you get to the end of the epilogue.
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