New Year’s Eve, London.
Outside the Hope & Glory pub, a man has been left to die. A victim of extraordinary violence, he will never walk or speak again. He remains in hospital for months, until criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman walks onto his ward.
Sarah barely recognises the man she once worked with – he was honourable and kind – what was he involved in? Who wanted him dead? But in her race to uncover the truth, Sarah comes to realise there are two men in her life that she never really knew at all…
From one of crime fiction’s most compelling voices, One Dark, Two Light is where the personal and criminal collide, as Sarah works to bring dark secrets into the light.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
You’re invested in this story from the first page. The relatable characters are easy to empathise. Drama, twists and intensity keep you absorbed and turning the pages, right until the end. Cleverly written the story, unfolds like a Pandora’s box of betrayal and lies. There are three main plot lines, two of which converge as the story progresses. The world-building is authentic, underscored by obvious knowledge, and research of the criminal and legal world and how they interact.
Character-driven, the main protagonist Sarah, a dedicated defence lawyer becomes personally involved in a case, which is prejudiced by a chance encounter. Sarah is easy to like, she’s emotional, impulsive and tenacious, good news for her clients, but she often risks her safety. Her home life is complex when her ex returns and her boyfriend is gravely ill. She is someone you want in your corner if you need help.
Fast-paced the story has disturbing, sinister undertones. The ending brings the plot strands to a believable, if unexpected conclusion, which is perfect for this addictive read.
Author Interview: Ruth Mancini– ‘One Dark, Two Light’ Blog Tour
One Dark, Two Light’, is dark crime fiction, what are the inspirations behind it?
Well, the main inspiration came – sadly – from what happened to my father. He disappeared one New Year’s Eve and was found in a London hospital three months later by a work colleague. He’d had no ID when he came in, so no-one knew who he was. Then, bizarrely, the exact same thing happened to my brother just over twenty years later in almost the exact same area of London. Pretty dark, I know. I’ve also drawn a lot on what I do for a living when I’m not writing. I’m a criminal defence lawyer and so there is a wealth of material there.
How do you create your characters?
My characters usually just appear in my head. I can’t deny that I draw, to some degree, on people I know or have read about or have seen on TV, even if it’s just a case of borrowing their name or looking at a photo and then mixing them up with someone else and then developing them from there. It’s probably like creating your own recipe when you’re cooking. A little bit of this. Taste it. A bit more of that…and then they start grow as ‘real’ people as the story progresses and as you write.
What comes first in your creative writing process, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is? Is it the same for every story?
All of it comes together simultaneously for me. But I plot it first. I’m not a ‘pantser’, as we know it in the business – that’s the name writers give themselves when they write by the seat of their pants and hope it goes in the right direction! I’m sure many amazing works of fiction have been written that way and I doubt Dostoevsky plotted Crime and Punishment out first, but I find a little cold, calculated premeditation works for me!
What interests you about dark crime fiction? Do you enjoy reading books in this genre?
I enjoy reading books that have psychological depth. I don’t mind whether they’re dark, light, crime or something else, so long as I enjoy the characters and want to spend time in their world with them.
How do you research your novels?
On the internet and by approaching professionals who can talk to me about their day job. I do a lot of research. I’ve been known to spend a day or longer researching one sentence! I probably need to cut that down a little …
Ruth Mancini is a criminal defence lawyer, author and freelance writer. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.