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The Dark Rose: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2012

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Latest in John Lescroart's Dismas Hardy series: A teenager dives to her death. Was it suicide or murder? Dismas' daughter Rebecca investigates. Read the full description

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kelly follows up her outstanding debut (The Poison Tree, 2010) with another suspenseful tale that keeps the reader on edge until the last page. Quiet and troubled teenager Paul has become tangled up with hooligan Daniel, and the two of them get rich selling scrap metal they’ve ripped off from construction sites around Essex. When a run goes bad, leaving a man dead, Paul rats out Daniel in exchange for community service. He’s placed with a social-services group renovating a public garden, where he meets the mysterious Louisa. Louisa is tormented by her past; as a goth teen, her volatile relationship with a musician ended badly, and she’s blamed herself for the past 20 years. Despite their age difference, Paul and Louisa start an affair. Trying to hide their relationship while escaping their pasts proves to be too challenging for the lovers; a bad end seems inevitable, but there is considerable tension as it approaches. Reminiscent of early Ruth Rendell, Kelly is a master at teasing her readers by doling out just enough backstory, a little bit at a time, to keep the suspense high. --Rebecca Vnuk


“Everything we love in a thriller—obsessive passion, haunting secrets, a shocking ending—is here, set among the creepily atmospheric ruins of a 16th century English garden.”
O Magazine

“Erin Kelly is an elegant menace…It’s useless to resist: You must read it.” 
Maureen Corrigan,

 “With its rich intertwining of viewpoints and time frames, its nuances of character and class, its sustained suspense…this harrowing novel is a work of true talent.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “Reminiscent of early Ruth Rendell, Kelly is a master at teasing her readers…to keep the suspense high.”

 “Erin Kelly has delivered a stunning look at human desperation, loyalty, and absolute terror…First class writing that is absolutely captivating!”
Suspense Magazine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition edition (February 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780670023288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023288
  • ASIN: 0670023280
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,374,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erin Kelly has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. A regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Psychologies, Red, and Look, she has also written for Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gloria Feit VINE VOICE on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Louisa Trevelyan is working as a garden designer re-creating a historically accurate Tudor garden in Warwickshire, at the fictional Kelstice Lodge. After working for years recreating gardens that had fallen into neglect on private estates, this community program has really given her a chance to indulge her creative passion for garden design. It is there that she meets Paul Seaforth, 19 years old, who bears "an uncanny likeness" to her lover of years ago, Adam Glasslake. Though that relationship only lasted a few months, Louisa had been obsessed with Adam from the day she met him, an obsession undiminished with the years, which now translates into an affair with the much-younger Paul.

Kelstice is a project of Veriditas, a charity working with "at risk youth." Paul's presence is the "community service" to which he has been sentenced in lieu of jail time for his part in a crime committed by a mentor of sorts, against whom he has agreed to testify in court. For her part, Louisa also has a past which threatens her present. By unspoken agreement, they never discuss their pasts with one another.

Billed as a `psychological mystery,' I found the novel to be more suspense than mystery, as the details of Paul's and Louisa's pasts are revealed to the reader only in small doses. The shifting p.o.v. and time frames were somewhat disorienting, but necessary, describing the earlier years of both protags bit by bit, building the anticipation, until quite near the end of the novel, when all the details are finally revealed, leading to a stunning climax.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anastasia McPherson on March 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The words realistic and thriller are generally not used in the same sentence because of the tropes and demands of the thriller genre. Even when characters are psychologically complex and believable the circumstances in which they find themselves or reactions or both give way to the excitement of the thriller. This is not the case in The Dark Rose. The characters and situations that other reviewers have excoriated as boring are in fact true to the circumstances you or a friend might find yourself on the lam for murder or trapped in a poisonous friendship that includes thievery and malice, qualities normally not on your menu.

Louisa fell into a relationwhip when she was eighteen that had all of the sexual passion, emotional excitement and psychological obsession associated with first love. The object of her affections, a handsome, charismatic cad had other relationships and secrets and Louisa's dawning awareness, that her obsessions aren't shared plants the seeds of jealousy, seeds that grow into a forest of envy and temporary insanity. In a moment of mad impulse when her lover's truth is finally revealed, Louisa kills him and spends the next twenty years living under the radar afraid of discovery but still haunted by a powerful infatuation that was never allowed to die the natural death of experience gained.

Paul watches his father die in a home accident when he is a small child. His mother never quite recovers and in their changed circumstances, Paul finds himself out of his depth in a dangerous school. He is rescued by Daniel, the illiterate son of an organized theif of industrial materials. Pauls' mother is intent upon her desire to have another child and eventually Paul finds himself living with Daniel and his father and getting deeper into the business of thievery.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Journalist Erin Kelly catapulted to literary heights in 2011 with THE POISON TREE, a dark tale of secrecy and family protection. Originally released in the UK as THE SICK ROSE, her second stand-alone is a complex drama of love and love betrayed. Appropriately promoted as sophisticated psychological suspense, THE DARK ROSE rockets Kelly's career into the stratosphere.

Like a butterfly flitting between 1989 and 2009, the tale of teen Louisa Trevelyan's obsessive love of Adam Glasslake takes a tragic turn, and Louisa goes on the lam. The crumbling Kelstice Lodge estate was purchased "with a view to restoring the garden to its Elizabethan glory," Louisa's secret garden --- or, rather, garden of secrets. Now at age 39, Louisa chooses Kelstice not for love of landscape but for the remote location. Petty criminal Paul, who is 20 years younger, is in a witness protection program. He is situated there for the same reason, and to work in community service.

Paul is Adam's doppelgänger, and it's time for his "vagrant soul to find new flesh." Memories of Adam "nibbled like fleas in the bedclothes at night," and Louisa uses Paul to fill the love void. "Her three months with Adam remained the longest relationship of her life." But Louisa adjusts to sharing her life and bed with someone half her age. In youthful exuberance, Paul jumps over a wall and breaks a rambling rose, dooming it to the compost heap. He pledges to replant another.

In obvious reference to Louisa's attempt to use Paul as a surrogate to regrow her love with Adam, readers learn: "When a new rose is planted on the same spot as an old one, you get a sick rose; it doesn't bloom, and it'll probably die. You can't expect something that beautiful to bloom twice.
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