I don’t know what to make of Gary Reilly’s Dark Night of the Soul. I liked it for what it is and it’s a vast improvement over its predecessor in the Murph series, Doctor Lovebeads. But it’s also a departure from the rest of the series, far more introspective and maudlin than the neo-cozy label it’s earned. There aren’t nearly as many laughs as I’m accustomed to in an Asphalt Warrior novel.
The interesting thing about it is while Murph usually gets caught up in someone’s nonsense, this time, the nonsense is Murph’s. Two different fares come back to haunt him in different ways and it makes him question his entire way of life, a slacker/wannabe writer way of life I’ve always admired. Taking him out of his element to make him the center of controversy adds some real gravitas to the book, making it impossible to detach from the seriousness of what Murph is facing.
It’s different but it worked for me for the most part. I don’t want to say too much without spoiling but Murph has some choices to make and while you can surmise from past works how those choices will be made, it’s still quite revealing about his complex personhood.
This made me want to know Gary Reilly more. Surely, these books are inspired in part due to his years as a cab driver. I wish he hadn’t died before these were published. Murph (Reilly) usually seems like a carefree guy but it’s clear there’s a lot going on in his life. In this book, we get a glimpse behind the curtain of it and its writer’s.