Ian Rankin’s Dark Entries is a locked room crime novel with a haunted house twist. Or is that a haunted house novel with a crime twist. Whatever, it is good. One of the first publications in the Vertigo Crime list (Filthy Rich is the other by Brian Azzarello) and it makes for a fun read.
John Constantine is asked to participate in a reality TV show called Dark Entries when the show’s producer turns up in his living room, somewhat unexpectedly. The idea is that the contestants are in a haunted house but that there is a secret room which contains a treasure. Constantine displays his usual wit and charm to the production staff but agrees to enter the house. Rankin takes apart the current (though perhaps now dying) obsession with Big Brother et alia and shows and how the audience mindlessly react. Hell may not be other people but eternally watching them? It acts as a balm to the eternal torture of Hell itself.
Meanwhile, the contestants begin to remember fragments of themselves, of their lives. As they relive their stories, they find connections between their stories and build the courage to try to escape from the house. Constantine encourages them to try and live their lives, recover their own memories and become themselves. As well as turning the sod of bashing reality television, Dark Entries is also a meditation on the nature of damnation and the losing of souls and identities. Constantine also has to find a way of dealing with some of his own past (again).
There is a salutory twist as the makers continue Dark Entries and the circus goes on. Werther Dell’Edra (a new artist to me as I’ve only got some early editions of Loveless) illustrates the book with some fairly sparse art that works with the story.
A cracking and thoughtful read.