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Darkness Peering Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Moving from writing short stories to a novel is more than a test of endurance--it involves a daunting feat of courage as well as working a whole new set of muscles. Luckily, Alice Blanchard (whose collection The Stuntman's Daughter won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize) has courage and muscles to spare. Her debut thriller starts on familiar turf: the transplanted big-city cop taking on the job of small-town police chief to create a better life for his family. But Nalen Storrow, who moved from Boston to the Maine community of Flowering Dogwood, hasn't found the paradise he or his family was seeking. The faded town has a rather high crime rate, including the murder of a teenage girl with Down's syndrome in 1980, which begins the book. Nalen's own teenage son, Billy, quickly hooks up with the wrong crowd--and local gossip connects him to the murder. Billy's behavior has driven a wedge between Nalen and his wife, damaging their marriage. In fact, the only family member who seems bettered by the move is daughter Rachel, who at age 9 is a smart and pretty child who idolizes her father.

Blanchard has a heaven-sent gift for summing characters up in a phrase--like the local medical examiner: "Archie was all dancing belly--a balding, fortyish indoor enthusiast who barreled toward the scene with the kind of eagerness most people reserved for sex or steak dinners...." She guides us through Nalen Storrow's disintegrating world with deceptive ease. And then she segues seamlessly into Rachel's inevitable reappearance 18 years later as a police officer in the very same town. Rachel uncovers leads to the unsolved murder of the young girl from two decades ago and also investigates a new murder. Along the way, we get wonderful helpings of poetry from Poe (including the perfect title) and from Yeats. Who could ask for anything more--except a sequel? --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Switching genres with ease, short story writer Blanchard, who won the 1996 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for her collection The Stuntman's Daughter, offers an accomplished suspense novel. Flowering Dogwood, Maine, is a picturesque New England town, a seemingly safe place where people can still leave their doors unlocked. And so the community is shocked when Melissa D'Agostino, a mentally challenged teenager, is strangled on her way home from school. Chief of Police Nalen Storrow, a father of two, is particularly distressed by the killingAeven more so as he begins to suspect the killer may be someone he knows. Overwhelmed by the mounting pressures of his personal and professional life, Storrow commits suicide, and the murder case is closed, unsolved. Fast forward 18 years: Rachel Storrow has followed in her father's footsteps and joined the police force. Her life seems lonely and work obsessed; her girlfriends have long since moved away; her relationship with her awkward older brother, Billy, is distant; and her on-again, off-again lover, the current chief of police, is a married father of three. When an offhand comment from a minister leads Rachel to glance at the old D'Agostino murder files, the discovery that her brother was nearly considered a suspect sends her into an emotional spiral and convinces her to reopen the case. But her investigation is complicated by the sudden disappearance of her brother's co-worker, Claire Castillo, with whom he had fallen in love. Torn between her loyalty to her family and her duty as a cop, Rachel unwittingly finds herself confronting the same issues that troubled her father. And the answers she will find are no less disturbing. Blanchard's prose is swift and cinematic as she accelerates the suspense, and the tightly wrought ending offers a gut-wrenching, ironic twist. Agent, Wendy Weil. Rights sold in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the U.K.; movie rights to Propaganda Films. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553581295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553812442
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Billy Rainey on December 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm in a book reading club with ten other people and we just read this one. EVERYONE IN THE GROUP LOVED IT! We all agreed this qualifies as a novel much more than "just" a mystery/thriller. It rises high above that predictable and formulaic genre. It is smart, disturbing and beautifully written. What I most loved about this book is how it weaves its way through the dark little worlds of many troubled souls in a small New England town in such a way that their tragic, mundane lives stay with you long after you put it down. I haven't read a novel this good in years. For those looking for your standard mystery novel, go read any one of the thousands of forgettable ones out there. For those looking for something truly remarkable, go buy this one immediately. Color me impressed, Ms. Blanchard, and count me as one of your lifelong fans. And hurry up with your next masterpiece. You have a hungry book-reading club tapping their feet most impatiently.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the best psychological thriller I've read in a long, long time. I would recommed it for the intelligent reader. I suspect it's not for the average mystery buff, though I may be wrong. It's dark, complicated and challengingly difficult. At a very high level of prose. The characters are brutally real. As someone else mentioned, it reminded me of Thomas Harris. This is a great book and I think it does an impressive balancing act between literary fiction and page-turner. I'm looking forward to what else Alice Blanchard has to offer the world.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Terry Mathews on June 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I know all fiction cannot have happy, neatly tied-up endings, but this one blew me away.
I found myself challenged by this story, and really didn't figure out who the killer was until it was almost upon me.
The author does a good job in developing her characters and making her reader CARE about them. Nalen Storrow is one of the most desperate humans I've found in recent fiction. I rooted for him to find the retarded girl's killer and I despaired with him as he fought ugly, black moods that he could not control.
I liked his daughter, Rachel, too. I wished happiness for her, but it was not to be.
This book kept me in suspense until the final page...and I do mean the final page....it's a stunner.
The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was I felt there were way too many red herrings offered to the reader before the true evil -- and its motivation -- were revealed.
Enjoy!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Also inspired to read Blanchard's first book after burning through "The Breathtaker." I think this one is nearly as good, though slower-paced. I was impressed by the descriptions of New England countryside and the conflict in all of her characters, especially her heroine, Rachel. I suppose you could call this the grandmother of all dysfunctional family stories. I was surprised by the killer reveal, though it was a bit of a cheat and I thought there could've been a little more to chew on where he was concerned leading up to the ending. But that's a minor quibble. I definitely recommend this.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was something different than I expected-- a literary mystery/thriller. A few horror scenarios (I won't give them away) are incredibly scary, gripping and believable. The heroine is quite conflicted on several levels-- haunted, actually. This book left me disturbed yet strangely satisfied. It's much more thought-provoking than your average mystery. I'm definitely looking forward to her next one.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I agree with The New York Times Book Review that this is one of the best books of the year. Blanchard has pushed the envelope in the police procedural genre, creating a complex tapestry of emotional characters with haunted lives. This book is not only sumptuous, atmospheric and literary, but also a shocking page-turner with jarring, unexpected twists. Read it. This is a high recommend.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "osabino" on October 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Not the least of Blanchard's accomplishments in this thriller is the fine and complex writing of the story itself. Darkness does indeed "peer" in various fashions over the town of Flowering Dogwood, as scary a place as Poe might have invented. The foggy vistas, the school for the blind, the early, New England evenings, as well as the metaphorical darkness of family violence and the tinge of incest; the charged and complicated relationships of lovers, spouses, parents and children--all are haunted by shadows of secrecy and dread. Blanchard brings to the genre a sure-footed sense of literary resonance. This is both a true page-turner and a work with the kind of staying power we more often associate with mainstream fiction. The quirks and kinks and gothic twists of Darkness Peering, its evocation of primitive chills beyond the mere bonetingling murder, will remain with the reader long after the covers are closed.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this. It is both a terrifying suspense novel and a journey into the complex life of a woman striving to live up to her father's memory and flawed honor. It's a battle of loyalty vs. reality. This story will give you a most thrilling, unpredictable ride from the first chapter until the last.
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