A Darkening Stain
Robert Wilson
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A Darkening Stain
Robert Wilson
Harvest Books
304 pages
June 2004
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Robert Wilson's forth novel in the series picks up where Blood is Dirt left off; P.I. Bruce Medway on his own again and saddled with the unwanted attentions of Mafia-connected Roberto Franconelli. Since their last encounter, Medway is no longer in the capo's good graces. Trapped by extenuating circumstances that render him powerless, the P.I. is forced to acquiesce when instructed to locate a missing Frenchman, Jean-Luc Marnier; thereafter, he is instructed to fade out of the picture altogether.

Five dead bodies are discovered on a boat owned by Marnier; at this point, the noble Inspector Bagado is involved in the case, in his official capacity. The moral center of the series, Bagado is pivotal, keeping Medway focused on the issues because lack of money is always a deciding factor in Medway‘s consideration, no matter how dangerous the case. Medway, as usual, has his hands full, juggling villains and thugs, one step ahead of their evil intentions.

At the same time as the Marnier case, innocent schoolgirls are disappearing, stirring up enormous public fear as to their whereabouts and the reasons for the kidnappings. When Bagado's daughter is one of the targeted schoolgirls, the action heats up and moves in a more violent and graphic direction than any of the previous novels. Even the Inspector finds himself on the cusp of violent and, for him, inexcusable acts.

Medway trolls the late-night dens of iniquity, delving into another fertile area of the West Africa coast: the flesh trade, the lowest form of the human species found everywhere, where nothing is sacred and everyone is for sale, even children. In order to survive this foray into decadence, Medway is forced to betray himself in a manner that could destroy everything he values. Wilson’s protagonist is faced with an acute moral dilemma, slipping through the dark side of humanity’s most despicable elements.

In the latest installment of the Medway series, Inspector Bagado consistently acts as Medway's ethical compass, safely guiding him through morally ambiguous situations. Meanwhile, Medway’s intimate relationship evolves, certainly more sexually explicit, perhaps to identify him with humanity in a recognizable form. But Medway's torrid mid-life passion with his now-pregnant girlfriend only adds to the desperate emotional edge of the hard-drinking P.I. Perhaps it is time, after all, for Medway to consider a career change.

Click here for Luan Gaines' first interview with A Darkening Stain author Robert Wilson

Click here for Luan Gaines' second interview with A Darkening Stain author Robert Wilson

© 2004 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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