Book Review – THE DARKEST LITTLE ROOM by Patrick Holland

♦ This title is an Aussie Author Challenge 2015 Recommended Read ♦


The Darkest Little Room Synopsis :

The Darkest Little Room by Patrick Holland

Patrick’s Holland’s haunting new novel arises from his experiences in Indochina. An atmospheric literary thriller, it tells the story of Joseph, an Australian journalist living in Saigon who, shortly after reporting on a murdered girl washed up in Saigon River, is approached by a foreign businessman describing a brothel known as ‘the darkest little room in Saigon’. This mysterious informant shows him a photograph of a beautiful woman covered in wounds. Joseph sets out to investigate, not only to uncover the mistreatment of these women, but in the hope of at last finding the one woman he cannot forget. Rich in setting and characterisation, and pure in voice, The Darkest Little Room explores the elemental dilemmas of being an outsider, the nature of desire, and the risks of loving, especially in a world where no one is who they seem. (Booktopia)


The Darkest Little Room is my first experience with the prose of Aussie author Patrick Holland. His writing has a visceral, uncensored quality – it is as if the reader has been transported to Saigon and can smell the odours in the seedy back alleys; or feel the rain running down their face in the dense jungle.

Following the story of protagonist, Australian journalist Joseph, is like watching a cinematic train crash. You can sense impending disaster, but cannot look away as we watch his obsession take hold. Tension simmers from the very first page and builds throughout. Is it all smoke and mirrors or is he losing his grip on reality? Who is his friend and who is his foe? Are his intentions really as pure as he would like them to be?

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The Darkest Little Room by Patrick Holland is as gripping and thrilling as it is effortlessly artistic and lyrical.

Many titles these days are billed as literary thrillers but this one truly fits that description. There is a poetic quality to both the tale and its telling. As foreshadowed by the book cover art, the imagery within is stark and powerful.

While not without a weakness or two in respect to the plotting, what really appealed to me was how this novel poses questions about human nature that are both profound and universal, but does so in an unassuming manner.

‘The darkest little room in the world is the human heart,’ she said at last. ‘Even yours, perhaps, has black secrets that you would never let into the light.’

In The Darkest Little Room Patrick Holland tackles some confronting issues, those normally hidden in shadow. In that respect, this novel may not suit everyone – but those willing to take the plunge will certainly be rewarded. This is a story that lingers long after its conclusion…

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5

The Darkest Little Room by Patrick Holland
Available from:
Book Depository | Booktopia(Aus) | Amazon

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Literature

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2013.

Author Information: Patrick Holland lives in Brisbane, Australia. He has worked as a horseman in Maranoa district and in Queensland’s far northwest. He has travelled widely throughout Asia and has studied languages at Qingdao University and Beijing Foreign Studies University, and at Ho Chi Minh Social Sciences University in Vietnam. His novel The Long Road of the Junkmailer (UQP) won the Queensland Premier’s Award for Best Emerging Author. His second novel The Mary Smokes Boys was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and Age Book Awards. He is also the author of Riding the Trains in Japan: Travels in the Sacred and Supermodern East (Transit Lounge) and The Source of the Sound (Hunter).

– Check out Patrick Holland’s website

Other reviews of The Darkest Little Room: ANZLitLovers; Mascara Literary Review; The Age

* Receiving this title free from TransitLounge did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions in the review above.