Dark Water is a mystery novel that , upon reading it, engenders as many conflicting feelings as it has elements to its story.
I like the author, Hayes’ ability to bury ,within the narrative, a deep understanding of the Welsh language, culture, and the issues that have arisen throughout the towns and villages.
Tragically, with a dark presence that’s almost poetic, Hayes incorporates the damage that industry and climate change has wrought upon the landscape and the lives. It’s in the near constant rains, flooding that pours over everything, seeping wetly in every section of their lives. You can feel the dampness, and mold, and decay coming off the pages and imagine the despair that some of the people might feel.
The descriptions, the verbiage, the backgrounds, the locations, the mysteries, and the perfection that is the town’s policeman Daniel Owen’s, for which English is his second language, that’s the strengths of the series and this story.
Unfortunately it’s paired with some other aspects that , imo, work against the most connectable and well written parts of this story.
First would be the multiple points of view here that the author has chosen to use . Sometimes this works well for a novel, especially when the voices are incredibly distinct. But here? They tend to muddle the forward momentum of the storytelling, when the reader has to struggle to understand or remember who exactly a narrator is.
There’s too many people talking. They aren’t either defined clearly enough to care about them that they’re memorable, if they’re a sort of main character like Raven, then they’re so chatty in a bad way that instead of making them interesting, they come across as self indulgent drug dealing narcissists. Teenager or not, that’s not a voice I want to spend time with. Raven is a not.
And then we have Veronica. Who’s Veronica? Oh right , after some back reading. That’s not a good thing.
Then there’s Maldwyn Kent . He was the DCI in the last story where he and Daniel started a relationship I didn’t believe in. Then they left to return to their respective careers.
Now in a act that defied every Mal had told Daniel in the past, he arrives In Daniel’s home town, where Daniel’s been acting DCI, takes Daniel’s long awaited promotion for himself, without prior notice to Daniel who he ghosted after the events of the last book. Kent’s been vocal about his dislike of the Welsh language which is the default language of the village he’s now the DCI of. Mal Kent is also been outspoken about his desire to return to London, getting away from Wales as quickly as possible.
Now in this story, he is quick to initiate a push/pull attitude or relationship with Daniel that raises huge flags.
Kent’s dismisses Daniel’s ideas, tells him to speak English (what a clear message to the village and Daniel that amounts to bigotry), then insists Damien not call him “Sir” as though they were still intimate. Flag, flag, flag.
This clear disrespect of Daniel’s police acumen, even though he’s been a police officer a long time and knows this village intimately, is remarkable. Especially in the the author seems to think we should disregard this attitude when it comes to their romance.
We get little in the way of a romantic journey here. Anything that might bring us over is done “off page “. They had lunches or dinners together, that had happy conversations. Oh joy.
Does that help the reader understand what Daniel sees in a non communicative, dismissive, high handed guy whose suits is papered over with flags? No, it does not. Other than how good looking Mal is.
How small is the dating pool over there ? Plus there’s the moment Daniel sleeps with a good friend. That felt more real than anything with Mal, to be honest.
Then there’s his sister who’s all you’re so adorable together. Really? When. Because it’s not here on the page. It makes zero sense.
Most won’t like the mystery either. It wasn’t fully formed, and resolved. Too many holes, too many gaps in the plot threads surrounding this element.
And the ending is a mess.
Dark Water is totally different from Undermined. Different style, different number of personalities and perspectives, muddy plotting. And the relationship between Daniel and Mal just went from mediocre to why is a great guy having a relationship with the man buried under a mountain of red flags.
I’ll continue on if only for Daniel and the locals in his village. Mal Kent? No.
Daniel Owen Welsh Mysteries:
✓ Undermined #1
✓ Dark Water #2
◦ Leavings #3
◦ A Man #4
◦ Too Many Fires #5
◦ An Allotment of Time #6
◦ A Teachable Moment #7
Dark Water: A Gay Mystery (Daniel Owen Welsh Mysteries Book 2)
It’s not a good Monday for DI Daniel Owen.
A body in a wheelie bin. Missing teenagers. His ex turning up as his new boss.
A secretive teenager, a nosy secretary, an idealistic social worker, and a dodgy fruit and veg salesman all have pieces of the jigsaw. If Daniel and Maldwyn can trust each other again, they can put the pieces together.
But time is running out, and at least one child’s life is in danger. It’s been raining for weeks, and the flood waters are rising, threatening to engulf them all.