A Choice of Darkness by Jon Kurtz

A Choice of Darkness

A Choice of Darkness

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A work of fiction, A Choice of Darkness offers two perspectives on an intense three-day-long homicide investigation.  The first affords the opportunity to define a mysterious killer in terms of his memories of exploitation, marginalization, and, most recently, murder.  The second provides insight into the difficulties experienced by investigators who must navigate the waters of inter-agency relations and community mistrust, while exorcising personal demons.

In-depth character and scene development, cliffhanger chapter endings, and increasing tempo grace its 392 Kindle pages.  As example, the book’s antagonist slowly evolves from a mysterious and offensive creature into a figure beset by mental illness, arguably worthy of a modicum of pity.  Likewise, the protagonists gradually mature personally and professionally as they discover hidden strength in the bonds created during a homicide investigation turned manhunt.

As characters and situations develop and clarify, so does the story’s moral: For every choice there are consequences.

Main Characters:

The Killer:  A childhood filled with cruelty and an inherent mental illness lead the enigmatic antagonist to commit murder.  Sensing insight in dark actions, the impulsive killer embarks on a journey of self-discovery that brings him to Harrisburg, PA, where the body count mounts.

Thomas Payne:  The main protagonist enjoys considerable respect in his career with Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  The assignment to identify and stop the killer is placed squarely on his shoulders and those of the members of his newly created Major Crimes Task Force.  In addition to the obvious challenges, Thomas must also deal with a social life in ruin following the death of his wife.  Mired in self-pity, he must confront his past in order to unite his team and ultimately stop a killer.

ROBBY FRANKLIN:  A member of the new task force, Robby remains Thomas’ closest friend.  Socially adroit, his zest for life provides a reminder to Thomas of all that he has lost.  Known for his investigative perseverance, Robby dutifully accepts the added responsibility to pull Thomas from his lingering despair.

STAN BROWN:  The oldest member of the task force, Stan enjoys international recognition as an expert in the fields of criminal assessment and offender profiling.  Tasked with anticipating the killer’s next move, Stan demonstrates the ability to excel at his job while simultaneously providing support for a partner facing professional burnout.

Ronnie Sanchez:  Stan’s new partner, Ronnie has spent the majority of her thirteen-year career investigating and prosecuting sex crimes.  Exhausted from internalizing the pain of her victims, she has lost drive and direction.  Fortuitously, her pairing with a new partner provides unforeseen solace as she finds his intimidating size seemingly contradicted by the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon.

BILL TRAVIS:  Bill possesses an eidetic memory and the youthful exuberance of a junior detective.  Teamed at various points with the unit’s tech-wiz and occasionally partnered with a seasoned local detective, Bill doles out and receives more than his fair share of practical jokes, while maturing and ferreting out the clues to stop a killer.

DOC PATEL:  An unlikely task force member, Doc utilizes his Ivy League education and business acumen to provide the team with an arsenal of unique technological tools with which to fight crime.

MAGGIE BENNETT:  The office manager for the new task force, Maggie shares the tragedy of a spouse’s death with Thomas.  Having succeeded in tempering the pain of her heartbreak, Maggie resolves to help Thomas do the same.

About the Author

Jon KurtzJon D. Kurtz is a retired Deputy Commissioner for the PA State Police.  He currently splits his time between creating realistic crime fiction and providing law enforcement consulting services.
Twitter: JonDKurtz
Facebook: authorjondkurtz


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The novel is well written with excellent character development. The reader is easily consumed by the story. I found myself thinking about the events of the story even when I wasn’t reading it. Can’t wait for more from the author.


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I enjoyed “A Choice of Darkness” even though I don’t usually read books in this genre. The story is engaging, and it clearly pulls from the author’s extensive experience in law enforcement. I think I may have even met some of the politicians he described. I also liked his look into the killer’s mind throughout the book and found myself beginning to like some of the main characters. I look forward to his next book.


Format: Kindle Edition

With “A Choice of Darkness” I think Jon Kurtz wrote as good as book in the mystery and legal genres as any I have read. Most of his reviews mentioned his excellent character development, all of which were true, but he went much farther than that.

From the very beginning, Kurtz began to wrap different parts and pieces to show how hard being a top-notch at investigations can be. Yes, he uses big words, but the words simply show the intelligence of the writer and is not to be pooh-pooed as being inappropriate. A book is often coming from the author’s past and the knowledge of the writer and he shouldn’t pretend to be stupid just to please an audience. None of the successful writers in this genre have and neither should Jon Kurtz. John Grisham didn’t pull any legal punches and I am very impressed that Kurtz chose to lay it out there as he lived it.

Thomas Payne, his main character, became eerily real to me as I got caught up in his story. Suddenly launched as a reluctant top investigator into a new task force, he knew from the get-go that his “corporate ladder” is fraught with difficulties. However, his very force of strength moves people aside so he can do his job. Shocked by a quick task, he looked at the team he had put together and was very satisfied with their different strengths…and weaknesses.

A Choice of Darkness had a shockingly good plot and was prepared with determination to lead you through the complex issues of working with bosses, other police forces who do not want interference, the intelligence of the criminals and the ability of each one of the task members to bring their talents to the fore. It was not suprising to read that the author had a background in these issues and used his knowledge to write a very, very good book.Read more ›


Format: Kindle Edition

Introducing: “A Choice of Darkness”. An absolutely breathtaking spine tingling debut novel by author, Jon Kurtz. “A Choice of Darkness” propels you into the minds of the characters on both sides of the coin. You view the crime series through the eyes of the police, you see the devastation brought to the families of the little boys so cruelly taken, & you are brought into the heart of a killer.

Jon Kurtz has an amazing ability to draw the reader a picture w/ his words. When we’re introduced to the “Bad Guy”, a disturbing picture emerges as we see a psychopathic cruelty created. You will find yourself backing away from the the book, much like when you’re watching a scary movie; you cover your eyes but watch thru your fingers hoping to protect yourself from that eventual cold pit in your stomach & chill running down your spine. While there’s no sympathy to be had for such a killer, a brutal picture of how a madman is born is painted

If you’re looking for something new or just want to read an absolutely breathtakingly good book, THIS is THAT book! “A Choice of Darkness” will make you feel. For me, while I couldn’t bring myself to fully sympathize w/ the killer, I sadly could see how the monster was created & how he grew to do what he did. This book made me feel & I am so excited that I found this book AND this author.


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Move over Davenport, Rhymes, Scarpetta, Reacher. There is a new sheriff in town named Thomas Payne, with excellent character assignment, colleague banter,and a world class whopper of a story.


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There are many reasons why I liked “A Choice of Darkness”. I’ll begin by saying that the writing style is superb. Every sentence in the book is necessary and engaging. Nothing is wasted. The story moves along at a good pace without sacrificing anything. Character development is exceptional in inasmuch as the reader is enveloped by the mind of a serial killer and the lives of the street smart investigators assigned to catch him but without over doing it. The same can be said about the technical aspects of the police work. The terminology, psychology etc. is spot on but won’t overwhelm the reader. KURTZ has found a way to strike a fine balance between reality and entertainment. It’s obvious to me that KURTZ put forth tremendous effort and time ensuring a quality book. Kudos to his editor as well. I only wish I possessed his lexicon…


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One of the better books I read this year. It has everything in it. Thriller, mystery a little romance. A book that will keep you at the end of your seat until your finished. The books also has you thinking what the perp will do next. Is he 1 step ahead of the police department, is he smarter than the police or is it just luck on his part.

If you are a fan of criminal minds this book would be a good show to be written. The main characters can be associated with the TV ones. Would be great if the author made these characters as ongoing in his books.




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