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Private Midnight Hardcover – March 5, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; First Edition edition (March 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590201760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590201763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,786,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. James Ellroy meets David Lynch in this addictive mix of noir and supernatural horror from Saknussemm (Zanesville). Det. Birch Ritter investigates the suspected suicide of California real estate magnate Deems Whitney, who apparently doused his Mercedes with gasoline and died in the resultant explosion a day after changing his will to benefit his trophy wife and disinherit his grown children. Before the cop can interview Whitney's widow, Ritter receives a cryptic message from his ex-partner that steers him to the enigmatic Genevieve Wyvern. Wyvern, who disconcerts Ritter with how well she knows his past, plunges him into a surreal world of bondage, domination and mind games. Despite being humiliated by Wyvern, Ritter finds himself unable to stay away from her lair. An unexpected and bizarre twist well into the novel jolts the fairly standard plot off the rails, but the powerful narrative voice will compel most readers to follow. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Life is piling up for Det. Birch Ritter. He's a big man loaded down with ugly cases; guilty secrets; a violent, ethically dubious approach to police work; fresh divorce papers; and a personal demon he calls El Miedo. A crooked colleague sends Ritter to Genevieve, a woman who is equal parts psychiatrist, seer, and dominatrix. So begins Ritter's dark spiral downward, a series of strange changes that cannot be explained by the laws of the world as he knows it. Saknussemm (Zanesville) creates an original blend of noir procedural, horror, and dark eroticism but sometimes loses control of his own linguistic dexterity. The result is intriguing but also muddled and awkwardly paced. A great rush of late developments suggests that either a sequel is forthcoming or that the book's most captivating questions will remain partly unanswered. What is the extent of Genevieve's power? What is the truth about Ritter's past? What will become of him? Saknussemm is a writer to watch, but this book is recommended only for large libraries where complex genre-bending works have found readership.—Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Normally, I feel I'm always at least one step ahead and see what's coming.
Ken Paul
Good or evil, torment or salvation, pleasure or pain, fear or hope, submission or dominance...male or female--where do the distinctions lie?
Lyric Powers
I couldn't stop myself from reading some lines out loud, and that alone puts this book on my recommended list.
G. Weaver

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lyric Powers on March 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Told in the voice of the crime noir classics, with intense erotica and unsettling psychological horror in abundance, Detective Birch Ritter's story is one I can guarantee you've never heard. Over the course of his unhappy and unfaithful life, he has seen much of the surface darkness of humanity--the crimes we commit against each other, the lies we sell--but with the introduction to what he at first assumes to be a high class hooker, he is exposed to an inner darkness that even he could never have imagined. A darkness that both seduces and repels, and in the end--reveals and transforms.

There is so much to see in this book, so much to hear and feel, and so much to learn. It is an assault on the senses, a stinging whip and a tickling feather, and a lesson in division that vividly illustrates the tenuous nature of borders. Good or evil, torment or salvation, pleasure or pain, fear or hope, submission or dominance...male or female--where do the distinctions lie?

Others may say Private Midnight is not for the squeamish, but I say it is exactly what the squeamish need--to shake 'em up and wake 'em up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Bube on March 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a startling and disturbing psychological thriller with heady doses of both the erotic and the surreal. Saknussemms' first person is totally believable and compelling. The atmosphere is intense and so fully realized that you feel you have stepped into this strange dream and can't get out. Even as the mysteries unfold, a deeper darkness sets in. Crime readers will enjoy this as a genre work, but the real mysteries are of the psyche. This is a book of revelation.
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Format: Hardcover
PRIVATE MIDNIGHT BY KRIS SAKNUSSEMM: From the author of the quirky and outright bizarre Zanesville comes a new novel that takes the classic noir detective story and boils it down . . . then bakes it . . . then deep fries it; and throws in a bunch of sex and kinky stuff. The resulting recipe is Saknussemm's Private Midnight.

Saknussemm harnesses the voice and feel of a classic, noir detective novel from the very first page. Detective Birch Ritter has everything a detective of his type needs: a crummy, tough job that takes up all his time, he seems to never sleep, and has a sordid and dark past filled with tragedy and bad choices that constantly come back to haunt him and the reader. Private Midnight has two stories going on: one is the case that Ritter needs to solve, and the horrifically mangled bodies keep turning up; the other is a strange introduction to a type of therapist who uses elaborate mind-games combined with dominatrix-style sex acts, all with the apparent goal of getting Ritter to pour out his heart and his past, and move on with his used up life.

Whether you're looking for a gritty detective story or something with some sexual spiciness to it (or perhaps both), you'll thoroughly enjoy Private Midnight, with its unique voice and complex story that will leave you turning the page just to find out what's going to happen next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Weaver on April 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Kris Saknussemm made a splash with his first novel, Zanesville, and Private Midnight, his second novel, solidifies his reputation as an edgy, creative and blackly comic writer. Private Midnight's themes and styles morph from noir to supernatural thriller to philosophical treatise on gender politics, and while not each incarnation is equally successful, the writing is at all times a joy. This man loves language. He loves words. I couldn't stop myself from reading some lines out loud, and that alone puts this book on my recommended list.

The story opens in fine noir style, with world weary battered police detective Birch Ritter trying to connect the dots on a couple of murders no one else sees as murders, while struggling with the temptation to visit an address his former, now estranged, partner gave him without explanation. Ritter suspects the address will lead him to a woman of pleasure, but he has no idea what shadow lands she occupies. Naturally, he can't help but find out.

Ritter is a man with secrets himself. The first part of the novel deals with self-sabotage, and the line between light and shadows, particularly our own shadows we'd rather not illuminate. The mysterious Genevieve says her business is shadows and from his first visit to her, Ritter is on a journey to his past, reclaiming bits of himself he's buried over the years. At the same time, he appears to be losing other parts of himself, and this blurring of boundaries between apparently oppositional definitions of identity is a continuing thread of the novel and its most successful theme.

The language in this part of the book is delicious. Waking up after a stormy night, the detective says, "The storm had cleared the air but not my mind or the inside of my apartment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Nunns on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wow! I tried to put the book down many times but I was intrigued with what Ritter was going to experience next. It made me reflect on what dark memories we all have in the corners of our minds...and what healing processes would be necessary....a must read and I agree with J Bube - it would make a great feature film. I must add I loved the CD that compliments the book!
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