The Dark Frontier by A.B. Decker

An interesting novel with an original premise, A.B. Decker’s book has left me very much with mixed feelings on my finishing of it.

It is a thriller which is told from the point of view of Frank, who has gone missing and his wife, Ellen who is trying to find him. The action of the book takes place in Switzerland at the time when a vote was being taken as to whether Swiss women should be given the right to vote in the 1970s. However, the narrative also has clear links to the Nazis and their rise to power in the 1930s.

Decker’s plot takes us between Ellen and Frank and the two perspectives echo each other in many ways throughout the book. I liked this about it as motifs continually popped up again and again, in a similar way to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell; the clues are there if only you are open to them. As I grasped this, the further into the book I read, my knowledge of what was happening and possible reasons for it increased and I enjoyed this, although I have to admit that the start of the book and the way that Decker chose for the plot to reveal itself did leave me baffled at times. However, this was not a totally unpleasant experience as, like Alice down the rabbit-hole, sometimes it is fulfilling to be challenged by a book; to have a sense of trying to glean what is going on and then, if guessing correctly, to have this confirmed by the way that the book unfolds. And this is how it was for me.

There is no doubt that Decker’s grasp and manipulation of language is excellent and the writing in this book is smooth and very easy to read. I also liked the way that it ended, clearly and appropriately.

I think the drawbacks with my reading of it come from its length: I felt that it could be shorter and that some of the passages contained superfluous detail which hindered the pace of the book. There is lots of action, suspicion, threat of violence in the novel which could have lended itself to a thriller read at a breakneck speed but for me, it kept halting.

However, I did enjoy it and what Decker achieves is a book with clarity of purpose that entertains and surprises.

This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC. This is a fair and unbiased representation of my view of the book.

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