John Ridley's Those Who Walk In Darkness is a futuristic,
sci-fi thriller filled with superheroes and super cops in a battle between good and evil. Soledad O'Roark is a tough,
no-nonsense rookie on an elite team of police officers whose sole mission is to capture and deport metanormals. Metanormals
are humans who have altered genetic traits which enable them to perform extraordinary feats, like fly, manipulate elements
(metal, fire, water), become intangible (move through solid objects), etc. However, the most feared and deadly of the
metanormals is the telepath who can enter the mind and take total control of one's actions, emotions, and thoughts with little
to no warning. If you are picking up a strong "X-Men" vibe, then you are right on point.
In this novel, San Francisco and its half million "normal" humans were obliterated
from the face of the earth when the good superheroes failed to stop an evil superhero's doomsday device. Thus in a knee-jerk
decision, the President issues an Executive Order to deport the metanormals. Europe openly accepts those who are deported,
while others hide their capabilities and try to live peacefully incognito in the U.S. However, the "normal" humans (especially
the cops) spew so much malice toward any metanormal whether good/helpful or destructive/evil that there is usually conflict
in every meeting that ends in a lot of cops dead when trying to capture one metanormal.
Most of the story centers on the heroine Soledad; her life and motivation.
We learn that she is the typical hard-nosed, loner, idealist cop who believes in "the system" until a series of events leads
her to love, threatens her career, and changes her life. The plot's formula is familiar and so are the supporting characters
- there is a "lover boy," a dedicated family man, and a "Rambo" type to round out Soledad's four-person crew. At times,
I felt like I was reading a screenplay for a new cop show - there were plenty of "shoot 'em up" action passages, characters
with misguided anger, and the resonating "woe is me" lament of misunderstood cops. The story works well reasonably well
because I kept reading to find out what was going to happen next.
True to Ridley fashion, this novel has plenty of comedic scenes and a darker
side. It raises issues of human rights and challenges the reader to examine social injustices of the past and potentially
the future. I enjoyed all aspects of the book and I am looking forward to his next release.
The Nubian Circle Book Club Rating for Those Who
Walk In Darkness is 3 out of 5 stars. If you have any questions or comments about this review,
please contact us at: NubianCircleClub@aol.com