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A Darker Place Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1999
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Laurie King's 1993 debut novel, A Grave Talent, won American and British honors for Best First Crime Novel, and it quickly established a loyal following for her series featuring San Francisco detectives Kate Martinelli and Alonzo Hawkins. She followed up that early success with a clever expansion of the Sherlock Holmes mythos, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. That novel, and the three that succeeded it, partnered Holmes with Mary Russell--a woman very much Holmes's equal in spirit and mind despite her young age. A Darker Place is King's first book to break from these series as she continues to pioneer new territory between literary and thriller fiction.
The success of A Darker Place comes from its slow revelation of the back story, which illuminates the major players: Anne Waverly, Glen McCarthy, and the people of Change. King brilliantly portrays the psychological split that drives Anne to self-destruction, both in her sexual relationships and in her self-effacing work for the FBI. Though a respected university professor and expert on cults, Anne Waverly was once a cultist herself. For 18 years she has struggled with personal tragedies that wrenched her from that experience, and she has dedicated herself (through academic labor and her covert work for the FBI) to saving the lives of others who become embroiled in religious fanaticism. Now, despite a vow that she has ended her relationship with the FBI and its work in defusing cults, she returns for one last effort at the request of Agent McCarthy. Anne cuts her hair, changes her name, and gradually loses herself in her new role as a member of Change. But her investigation soon becomes a journey into her own psyche, into the dark places of her past, as she sees her own life played out again in the members of the cult. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
King, author of the Kate Martinelli crime novels (With Child) and Mary Russell detective series (The Moor), applies her renegade talents to a suspenseful tale in which a woman penetrates the treacherous realm of religious cults in order to save its victims. Anne Waverly, a professor of religious studies at a small Oregon university, is an erstwhile FBI operative whose traumatic past has shaped her skills for infiltrating fringe religious groups: 18 years before, her departure from a Texas commune precipitated a Jonestown-like mass suicide that claimed her husband and young daughter. Haunted by their memory, she agrees to investigate Change, a Northern California commune dedicated to rehabilitating troubled youths. But once inside, under the alias Ana Wakefield, Anne discovers that Change's leaders are modern-day alchemists, who believe that, with the right combination of elements, a spiritual transformation is possible; the innocence of children and a sexual union of yin and yang will detonate the compound with the desired apocalyptic explosion. King presents Change's leaders as neither simplistic opportunists nor frenzied maniacs, but rather as methodical true believers who inhabit an ambiguous and dangerous middle ground. Anne is equally hard to pigeonhole, a feisty, independent woman whose guilt about her family tragedy leads to a misplaced sense of responsibility toward two of the commune's young wards. Anne's self-destructive tendencies are deftly juxtaposed with her fierce survivor's strength, and her frank sexuality and emotional needs are refreshingly rendered. She is a complicated and enigmatic heroine who perfectly fits the task of illuminating the shadowy world of religious cults.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I dislike books that try to impress with wordiness--did Anne really "fossick" through papers on page 53 and does anyone even know what that means or care? I love intelligent mysteries, but the mystery was sacrificed in this one for too much intellect.
I hung on for dear life, hoping for good things to come, and the book did get better, keeping me turning pages instead of tossing it away. Then came that terrible ending. What happened to Stephen, why was it necessary to have separate locations for this cult that seemed so unconnected, was greed the motivation or the desire for transcendence, if the latter, to what were they transcending? Why include references to coming events and then never speak of them again? And what happened at the end? It just ended with no satisfying conclusion. After all those unnecessary words at the beginning, surely the author could have spared a few for the ending.
Anne was a great character in a very bad story. I was so disappointed, I am writing my first ever review to rid myself of the lingering bad aftertaste.