Title: The Red Room | Author: Chris Thomas | Publisher: Sentinel Media UK Ltd. | Pub. Date: 02/28/2017 | Pages: 520 | ISBN13: 9780995714601 | Genre: Thriller | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Triggers: Sex slavery, child death (occurs offsides but it’s described later), domestic abuse, torture Source: Received from the author for review consideration
The Red Room
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Red Room.”
An anonymous website, a few clicks, and Joe Henderson’s dull little life changed forever.
‘The Red Room’; an underground show streaming live from the depths of the dark web of the internet. The only place where the inadequacies of a weak justice system are still righted, where the line between good and evil becomes blurred. When the Host puts on his mask and the lights go up, viewers bid, criminals are punished, and the Brotherhood of the Righteous broadcasts a show like no other.
The room has remained hidden until now, when a video arrives in the inbox of the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit: the torture and killing of a notorious criminal. But outclassed, outplayed, and torn apart by corruption, is there anything Detective Pete Harris and his team can do except watch?
Their only lead may be the room’s latest bidder, dull Joe Henderson. Because when Joe found the Red Room, it found him too, and now the Brotherhood are watching through the wires, willing to do evil for a righteous cause, to become the men that even monsters are scared of.
As they pull Joe deeper into the dark web, will he find any mercy, any way out? Or will he be the Red Room’s next volunteer?
First off, I love the cover of The Red Room (except for the clipboard). I was a bit intrigued by the synopsis but honestly? I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting maybe torture porn type writing and bland as hell characters. I was very wrong. I can see why it might look like it from my trigger warnings at the top but the acts are written well and with no apparent urge to lengthen them out for sensationalism. The Red Room acts are drawn out a bit more but in this book context really does matter. The characters were great and while I can’t say I loved the characters of Joe and Ellie they were average people and fit well into the plot perfectly.
There were a few parts that were a bit predictable. Two separate characters whose stories follow along with the main one but you know that eventually both roads will lead to The Brotherhood and when it does, it’s great. Thrillers are a bit hard to review because of potential plot spoilers, so I won’t go into as much detail as I’d like to.
I honestly can’t say I liked the characters of Joe and Ellie much. I think Joe was kind of an idiot. Ellie wasn’t in the picture much and when she was she was just annoying. Their characters were pretty realistic though. The dialogue flowed smoothly which was especially noticeable with The Brotherhood. A lot of times when you have a group of the uber-rich in a conspiracy setting they all talk like Bond villains, super fancy. There was a little bit of that but for the most part they were pretty casual with each other which was a nice change. As much as I do like The Brotherhood my favorite characters were Daisy and Grace. Daisy’s journey and character was a great one and I loved her ending. Grace, well, she doesn’t have a lot of page time but I like her for…reasons (beyond the obvious). You’ll just have to read the book, I guess.
The pacing flowed smoothly with no real lags or stops. the action builds nicely towards the finish. I was a bit bummed out near the end because a character dies that I liked. That’s all I’m saying about the end. The plot was laid out well with no missteps or illogical weirdness. Chris Thomas did a great job of laying it out in order.
The one thing The Red Room does well is raise questions about the concept of vigilante justice. I think the reasons books like this and Dexter and all of the cop shows is that people want to believe. People want to believe that there are cops out there who are unbiased. Who will go the extra mile to solve your case. And if the law fails, then maybe there are people willing to mete out the justice deserved. But the downside to it is that too often people make up their minds on little to no actual evidence. To me, it’s only justice if it’s 100% that that person did the crime they’re being accused of. And the average citizen does not have the resources for that.
The Red Room circumvents this by having The Brotherhood be conveniently rich so that they can hire people to mete out punishment. Which would be the only way to have the resources necessary to do what they do. It does also raise the question of the ‘innocence’ of the bidders. The Brotherhood says that the bidders would never turn them in because they’re just as guilty by watching and bidding. Now, maybe a lawyer could try to get a conspiracy charge on the bidders but good luck with that. They can always say they thought it was fake. It’s obviously not but in court it would make for a good defense. I’m probably getting off on a tangent here but bear with me. Even if they’re legally innocent what about morally? Even if they’re not taking part in the murders they are watching them with no attempt to stop it. And how does the guilt of the “victims” relate to the moral guilt of the viewers? To me they’re interesting questions with no easy answers.
As far as the ending goes I think it ends perfectly with a nice little twist that I didn’t see coming.
Update: The Red Rom has now been re-released as Enter the Dark by the author.