AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: A Darkness of the Heart (A Joanne Killbourn Mystery #18) by Gail Bowen

Publication Date: January 30, 2022
Format: Audio
Genre:  Mystery
Narrators: Athena Karkanis

Publisher: Bespeak Audio
9 hours 43 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


When, at the age of sixty, Joanne learns that Douglas Ellard, the reserved general practitioner whom she had grown up believing to be her father was, in fact, the best friend of her biological father, the brilliant visual artist Desmond Love, she begins to question not just who she is but what factors play a role in shaping all of us and in making us who we really are. Joanne is offered the chance to revisit her family history, when writer Roy Brodnitz, author of The Happiest Girl, a Broadway mega-hit inspired by a Desmond Love painting, approaches her with the idea of making a mini-series about the close relationship between the Ellard and Love families. Brodnitz is in town working on the film adaptation of his Broadway hit, and he and his film company soon become a significant presence in the life of Joanne's family, with results that are both life-changing and menacing. When Joanne and Zack's eighteen-year-old daughter, Taylor Shreve, develops a close friendship with the seventeen-year-old actress starring in the movie, the Shreve family is exposed to the dark side of the film industry and they uncover disturbing truths about the handsome and talented people they have invited into their lives.


I received a free audio book from the publisher through in exchange for a honest review.   

I haven't read any of the other Joanne Killbourn Mysteries although I do have 2 others downloaded on my phone.  However when choosing where to start I got mixed up and started with the most recent.  I will admit though that I didn't find it hard to follow despite it being the 18th of a series.  I feel like these each may ultimately stand on their own although the characters will age and the change. I'm glad I didn't feel lost jumping in so far along and found the mystery sad, disturbing and unfortunately probably very true to life.  

The book touches on the darker side of the film industry where men exploit women in order to "help" their careers. We've seen it play out across the media and tv rags and its sick and sad and I felt the same way about the book.  I love Taylor and how strong and opinionated she is at 18.  With a budding art career she seems to know herself pretty well for someone so young although she has been through quite a bit in her young age. 

I think the author handled the subject matter with as much grace as one can while writing about the exploitation of young girls and I wasn't sad to see the outcome of the perpetrator. The book also focuses on what the film industry is willing to put up with in order to make a movie a success.  It makes me almost feel guilty about watching movies, but I'm not gonna stop.

Now that I have a taste for the series I'm going to work on an older one and see if I still feel the same way about them. Overall I really liked this book and liked the methodical flow of the mystery. 

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