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Slipping into Darkness [Kindle Edition]

Peter Blauner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When a twenty-year-old murder case comes back to life, a detective must race against his failing sight to unravel the mystery

When Allison Wallis was beaten to death, Detective Francis X. Loughlin found the killer—Julian Vega, a teenager with a crush on the murdered girl. Using his natural sense of empathy, he cozied up to young Julian, convincing him to give a confession that would put him away until he was thirty-six.
Twenty years later, Julian is finally out of jail, attempting to remember how to live in a world without bars, and Detective Loughlin is still on the job, his sight fading, though his instincts are still sharp. But when Allison’s blood appears at a new crime scene, everything he thought he knew about that long-ago murder is called into question. Was it really Allison they buried? Was Julian actually the killer? And if he wasn’t, who else is in danger now?
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Peter Blauner including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After sifting through the secrets of suburban life in The Last Good Day, Blauner returns with a serpentine thriller about a decades-old murder case is reopened when the killer is released from prison. Twenty years earlier, Homicide Det. Francis X. Loughlin put the grisly murder of young doctor Allison Wallis to rest with the confession of teenage Julian Vega, but now Vega has been released on a legal technicality. Vega wanders the streets of Manhattan searching for signs of his former life, and though his old and new contacts won't give him benefit of the doubt, tough litigator Debbie Aaron believes in his innocence. When the body of a female doctor is found stabbed to death in the same manner as the original case, the investigation becomes increasingly complex. DNA evidence not only confirms Vega's innocence in the current death but calls into question the nature of the original murder. Already challenged by this tough case, Loughlin struggles with a debilitating eye disease that's robbing him of his sight. Though the low-key conclusion unfurls with little fanfare, Blauner excels with the sharp characterization and surefooted plotting that fans have come to expect. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Francis X. Loughlin is an aging police detective haunted by a twenty-year-old homicide involving a young female doctor. A man named Julian Vega was put away for that crime, possibly without sufficient evidence, when he was seventeen. As Blauner's novel opens, Vega has just been released from prison, on a technicality, when Loughlin is called to investigate a crime that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the earlier murder. Though the book sometimes takes the easy way out (the climactic twist feels both generic and arbitrary), it is elevated by Blauner's surefooted characterization of Julian. Newly free, struggling to find his way, dependent on the (somewhat tenuous) kindness of strangers, he is both sympathetic and tough; his portrait has a complexity that few authors could achieve.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

Product Details

  • File Size: 1514 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (March 29, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004S8ESIK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Newsweek! March 2, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found a review lauding SLIPPING INTO DARKNESS on the last couple of pages of NEWSWEEK. For once, a review did the book justice; it may even have understated the merits of this book.

The two protagonists of the book (because there really is no antagonist) are Detective Francis X. Loughlin and ex-convict Julian or Hoolian Vega. Louglin sent Vega to prison for the murder of a young doctor when he was only seventeen, having falsified some of the evidence. Twenty years later Vega is released due to his lawyer's incompetence. But then another young doctor is murdered, and Loughlin sets out to prove Vega is guilty of both murders, despite Louglin's growing problem with his eyesight.

I will admit the above sounds rather like a LAW AND ORDER episode, but Blauner makes up for that with lyrical description and wonderful character development. I am an inveterate mystery reader, and up to page 320, out of 386, I still wasn't sure if Vega was innocent or not. Hoolian Vega is an exceptionally well-rounded character; at times you love him. He is the son of a Puerto Rican apartment superintendent who was pretty close to a saint. He helped his father with maintenance around the building, and that's how he wound up Allison Wallis's apartment. At other times Hoolian acts like a whiny little brat who very well could have murdered Allison. Francis X. Loughlin is also completely believable. As a young cop, he drank to excess and even wound up on "The farm," a rehabilitation facility run by NYPD. He also cheated on his wife and wasn't averse to accepting privileges from his father, a superior on the force. Francis also risks his life and the lives of his fellow officers by driving and chasing suspects in the dark in his impaired state. There is an incredible scene were Francis X.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwrenching & wonderful - one of the year's best! February 11, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is Blauner's best book yet,(and that is saying a lot because he is already an incredible writer). This one shows that even a top writer can kick it up several notches. This book absolutely blew me away, making me care about EVERY single character, from Homicide Detective Francis X. Loughlin to recently released prisoner Julian ("Hoolian") Vega who, the two men at the heart of the book, to the minor characters along the edges.

The title of the book...well, let's just say it works on several levels and becomes more haunting and resonant as the story unfolds, layer by layer. "Slipping into Darkness" is an apt expression for so much of what is happening in both men's lives. The surprise is WHY.

On the surface, this book is about a murder case which is reopened when two victims, decades apart, are found to have the same DNA under their fingernails. So is the convicted man guilty or not? Was the wrong man put away - or has he simply started murdering women again?

If you think you KNOW the answer to that question, think again. One of Blauner's great skills as a writer is that he not only keeps the suspense at fever pitch but keeps things moving along, never slowing the pace.

And he does this with language that is original, fresh and worth savoring.

An example: When writing of "Hoolian" the recently released criminal, Blauner notes that "He'd been to the great universities of fear - Elmira, Auburn, Attica, Clinton- and had studied with the masters. He'd learned the language and customs, the symbols and signifiers. He could tell the difference between mere woofing and dangerous growling and right now he KNEW he had this man scared."

Forget that this book is part of the mystery "genre".
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Working Class Poet February 27, 2007
I've long been a fan of James Lee Burke's novels, never expecting to find another author with the same depth of characters and moral labyrinths. After stumbling upon an online interview with Mr. Blauner, I decided to give this book a shot.

"Slipping into Darkness" parallels the story of Julian Vega, a young man convicted of murder, and Francis Loughlin, the one responsible for putting Vega away for twenty years. Now, released from prison on a technicality, Julian tries to restore his good name and that of his deceased father--an immigrant whose reputation was tarnished during the decades-old investigation. Julian also tries to find his footing back in the free world, while struggling with his prison-survival mentality. At the same time, Francis is facing his own weaknesses as a cop and a human being, as symbolized through the deterioration of his eye sight. Even as he tries to hide his handicap from his wife and his new partner on the Job, Francis is confronted with a new murder investigation that points fingers once again at the recently-released Julian.

Aside from the completely believable characters that Blauner creates in this story, the most amazing accomplishment is the empathy he stirs in the reader for both Julian and Francis. Neither man is perfect. Both make horrible mistakes. Both are subject to poor decision-making. And yet, both are so human and normal and real, that we are caught up in their internal and external conflicts. These conflicts are intensified by a satisfying mystery plot that leaves things unfinished till the final thirty pages.

This is not squeaky clean fiction, with tidy answers, and diatribes on forgiveness. Despite this--or perhaps, because of it--"Slipping into Darkness" manages to pack a powerful punch, showing the results of bitterness, stubborness, and potential redemption. Blauner has stormed onto my fictional radar. And I'm sure he'll be there for a long time.
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More About the Author

When I was a kid, I quickly realized I didn't have much talent for throwing the baseball or playing a musical instrument or anything like that. What I had was a desire to write - which, of course, is not the same as having talent. That didn't stop me from focusing and honing in, practicing my writing the way other kids practiced free throws or 100-yard sprints.

Pretty early on, it occurred to me that I didn't want to run in the same race as everybody else anyway. A writer should have has her own slant on things. So I decided to go my own way. Even though I write what are classified as "crime novels," I don't have granite-jawed heroes or spunky heroines who always triumph over the bad guys. There are enough of those in the bookstores. I write about people with considerable flaws and consuming struggles, trying to make sense of their lives. I don't expect you to cuddle up to them or want to invite them to your Christmas dinner. But I think they have a lot of heart. Not in the sentimental sense. But in the raw, pulsing, heaving, still-beating-in-spite-of-everything sense.

I certainly don't mean to sound high-minded. After this many years in the game, I don't think a novel (particularly a "crime novel") can - or even should try to - cause great social change and upheaval. Most people just want a good story that can help pass the time on a plane. And that's my goal as well. But every once in a while, it can maybe also give you a slightly different way of looking at the world.

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