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Accustomed to the Dark Hardcover – November, 1996

3.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Any visitor who has ever been seduced by the charms of Santa Fe should read Satterthwait's Joshua Croft mysteries (Escapade and Wall of Glass are available in paperback) before deciding to move there. Not that the author doesn't love his native city; he just knows that crime and violence may be lurking around the next glitzy corner. Six years ago, a thug named Ernie Martinez killed Croft's boss, William Mondragon, and crippled Mondragon's wife, Rita. Now Rita has made it out of her wheelchair, and she and Croft have become lovers. But Martinez escapes from prison and shoots Rita. While she swings between life and death, Croft sets off on a foolhardy but inevitable search for Martinez and his even more dangerous drug-lord friend. Bristling wit and the pain of endangered love make Satterthwait an original voice.

From Publishers Weekly

Satterthwait grips his readers early, hard and fast as New Mexico PI Joshua Croft (seen before in The Hanged Man) pursues the man who shot his partner and lover, Rita Mondragon. Hours before the shooting, Ernie Martinez had escaped the nearby state penitentiary, where he was serving time for previously shooting Rita and killing her husband years ago, while trying to murder Joshua. Infuriated that police did not warn them, Joshua gives chase on his own while Rita lies comatose in a Santa Fe hospital. The trail is grim. An informant who once turned in Martinez has been shot to death. A troubled bank teller has suddenly abandoned her home to help Martinez and a fellow escapee. Joshua's hasty reaction triggers deadly consequences in Denver, enraging the cops, but a computer nerd there points him toward another lead in Texas. Disbelieving reports that the fleeing felons have died in a fiery road accident near New Orleans, Joshua presses on to south Florida and a bloody showdown. Satterthwait cross-cuts smoothly from present to past, delving in depth into Joshua and Rita's relationship and the origins of the feud with Martinez. Narration and dialogue crackle with smart humor. Joshua gets strong support, especially from a monosyllabic ex-CIA agent who collects Barbie dolls and prowls the Everglades like an alligator, silent and dangerous.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (November 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312145357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312145354
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,101,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 19, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Santa Fe has always been a primary character in Walter Satterthwait's annals of Joshua Croft and Rita Mondragon. In *Accustomed to the Dark* it becomes a bittersweet backdrop to a contemporary tragedy and a poignant past. We learn in flashbacks what happened years ago to cripple Rita and how Joshua tracked the attacker down and put him in jail. As Joshua remembers the past he must take the same journey again. Scenes of his pursuit of the attacker mingle with reminiscences of Croft's early days in Santa Fe and his relationship with Rita. This time Rita is near death's door. Joshua tries to define his life while he flees what he fears will happen. Because of this, he makes a nearly fatal mistake. This is well-written, taut with suspense, as we follow Joshua across Colorado, Kansas, Texas and finally into Florida as he seeks two truly evil men. There is a whiff of the valedictory about this book
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Format: Paperback
What makes a great mystery? Cohesion. That is, the plot must turn around itself without needless digressions or misdirection. Note the use of "needless." Some misdirection is necessary, simply for the purposes of mystery. But, in a really good mystery, any misdirection serves to clarify the mystery, one step at a time. In the case of Accustomed to the Dark, Walter Satterthwait has created a plot that whirls around itself like a tornado. And every discovery leads back to the beginning.

And what a beginning it is. In this book, Satterthwait finally reveals to us the back-story of his main characters, Joshua Croft and Rita Mondragón, how Croft came to work for the Mondragón agency, what happened to the mysterious Mr. Mondragón, and how his wife ended up in a wheelchair. Interestingly, this is not the first novel in the Joshua Croft saga, but rather comes nearly ten years after Satterthwait began the series. So by now his faithful readers are desperately eager to know how this whole state of affairs came about in the first place. In fact, the vengeance quest in Accustomed to the Dark actually revolves around two crimes which turn out to be inextricably related. In a careful play between past and present, the author gradually reveals how the present-day crime relates to a crime six years earlier, and does so with style and wit.

I'm not going to tell you what the crimes are or how all the relationships play out. In the course of the story, Satterthwait introduces us to characters that appear in both earlier and later stories, and we get to see how each one of them entered our hero's life six years earlier. This has to be one of the most tightly plotted mysteries I've ever read and, believe me, that's a lot of mysteries.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Had read the other books in the series and had enjoyed them. It almost seems as if his publisher demanded another and he slapped this one out. Not very plausible, too much like a travelogue, but worst of all, not very interesting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one book of a series by Satterthwait following his very hard boiled P.I. Joshua Croft and set in Santa Fe, New Mexico (and elsewhere). For Croft fans, it is a very typical novel from the series and fun to read, with some well-defined quirky characters along the way. This is my fourth novel from the series, which is kind of formulaic by now, hence only 3 stars. But this is a fast read, and a good genre book, so I recommend it for a nice weekend of escapism, and a very good sense of locale in Santa Fe.
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Format: Paperback
I just read "Accustomed to the Dark", and I keep wondering: is it really a thriller about a hard boiled PI or is it the story of a looser.
This is my first Walter Satterthwait book, and here I meet a guy who basically creates a situation leading to the death of his boss, then can't prevent the love of his life to get shot at, then rather stupidly allows the perpetrators to escape from their hidding nest, then is almost killed at the end just saved by an improbable character. Cherry on the pie, his love wants to walk out on him !
It's well written, the pace is fast, it's entertaining, but I overall find it darker than expected.
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