Advance Review: Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher


Chief Jim Hopper reveals long-awaited secrets to Eleven about his old life as a police detective in New York City, confronting his past before the events of the hit show Stranger Things. 

Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?

Although he’d rather face a horde of demogorgons than talk about his own past, Hopper knows that he can’t deny the truth any longer. And so begins the story of the incident in New York—the last big case before everything changed. . . .

Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show up and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.

Soon Hopper is undercover among New York’s notorious street gangs. But just as he’s about to crack the case, a blackout rolls across the boroughs, plunging Hopper into a darkness deeper than any he’s faced before.


This heart-pounding mystery (sort of - you'll see) is a tie-in to the wildly popular Netflix hit Stranger Things.  This was my first time ever reading a book that was written about characters from an already built world, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to get into it.  Have you ever watched a movie that was based on a book, and then tried to read the book, but because you knew the ending it was spoiled for you?  Probably not.  I'm weird; I know.  But this is why I ALWAYS read a book before I watch the movie or TV show.  And I am not generally one to be massively disappointed, because I compartmentalize (thanks therapy!) and keep the book separate from its on-screen counterpart. Darkness on the Edge of Town is different, though.  It isn't a retelling of the show we have already seen.  What's more, we get some really fun backstory of one of our beloved secondary characters, Jim Hopper.

The story takes place after season two.  It is Christmas, and El finds a box with old files and evidence from one of Hopper's cases back in New York.  So, the story takes place in the "current time" (Christmas in Hawkins in 1984) with Jim telling her the story about this particular case back in New York (Summer 1977), during a disgusting heat wave with residents already on edge because of the Son of Sam.

The title of the book shares the title of Bruce Springsteen's 4th album that was recorded during the summer of 1977. Not sure who all noticed that, but felt it deserved mentioning.  Adam Christopher DID HIS RESEARCH for this book.  As an editor, I am in the habit of Googling random things I come across in books if I don't already have a base knowledge of them, just to be sure it is accurate. Sure, this is fiction, but it also needs to be believable.  You can't just use a rag with chloroform to knock someone out, contrary to what people think based on shows and movies showing that for dramatic effect.  I actually spent an hour one evening searching how to quickly knock someone out to effectively kidnap them.  I don't even want to know what kind of watch lists I'm on.  I randomly Google the phrase "I'm researching for a book" and hit search, just in case.

First, Christopher nailed Eleven.  Her mannerisms and quirkiness - perfection.  I can't say whether he fully grasped Jim Hopper as he's seen in Stranger Things, because he is technically a secondary character, but I have to say I adore this version and hope he is portrayed similarly in July when season three drops on Netflix.  I think I just have this still-grieving father stuck in my head and that's all I can associate with him.  So I'm actually really thankful Adam Christopher was given this opportunity to shed more light on who Jim Hopper, The Man, actually is.

The flashbacks were good, but I have to say I preferred the scenes with Detective Rosario Delgado.  That isn't to say it was only a sub-par story, I just really like the procedural aspect of mysteries/thrillers.  Because we know that Jim and Rosario (though we weren't sure about her until about half way through the story) make it through okay, or at least alive, it was hard for me to stay focused through certain parts of the story - that knowledge takes away from the mystery for me.  I caught myself skimming some of Jim's repetitive inner monologues.

Now what I want to know is, are we allowed to have another book with Rosario as our main character, after she leaves for D.C. to work for Special Agent Gallup?  Because that would be a fun book (or three).  I mean, she isn't technically a Stranger Things character, so... Probably just wishful thinking.  But I'm sure I won't be the only one wanting some more Detective Delgado in our lives come Tuesday, when this hits the shelves.

All-in-all, this was a very fun whodunit that was easy to read in one sitting, and managed to give me all the feels about Hopper and El as a family unit.  Now excuse my while I go raid the bookstore for some of Christopher's backlist, because I really enjoyed his writing style and story-telling.

Grab Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town, Tuesday, May 28, 2019!