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A Field of Darkness (Madeline Dare, Book 1) (A Madeline Dare Novel) Paperback – July 11, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
What I liked best, though, was Read's writing style. You know how sometimes there's an author whose turn of phrase you just like--who could make a grocery list interesting? That is what struck me here. They say that an author's work is to put into words what most need to say but lack the phrasing. At this art--and it is a rare one in an era of plodding writing--Read is simply outstanding, a tremendously incisive chooser of the right metaphor. I found myself most interested to see what she'd come up with next.
The other area that impressed me most was character development. The protagonist's oft-disappointed humanity breathes and has a pulse. Read juggles quite a few characters and does them well. Interestingly, if there was a single child in the book (save reminisces by adults), I don't remember him or her. I sense that this was deliberate but I haven't figured out why--could be anything from puckish playfulness to an atmosphere-setter. Could be the author, a mother of twins, had strong personal reservations about children in a setting where violent murders occur.
The mystery/crime novel folks will like Read, but her style and skill will reel in a much broader audience. Me, for example.
Imagine reading an entire book written like the above paragraph. See, I can do it too! And I'm not a self-proclaimed WASP or a hippy or a writer or anything!
I'm baffled Cornelia Read received praise for using such an "authentic voice." At its bare bones, it comes down to too many contractions, distracting fragments peppered across each page, sloppy "hip" (ha!) language like "...he harshes out on whoever's available" and "...but I was late for work and started to get pissy," and descriptions that begin with the word "all" (ex. "It was all creamy stucco and white..." and "its potato-potato idle all basso profundo in the predawn quiet."). I can't count how many times I rolled my eyes while reading this book - frankly, I found Read's "dazzling new voice" and "knife-like wit" tedious at best and irritating at worst.
Despite the above, I will be curious to see Read's next book. I'd like to know whether A Field of Darkness in really written in the protagonist's 1st person voice or whether this is simply Read's writing style. If it's the former case, Read went overboard; and if its the latter, I think it reflects an inexperienced writer trying to astonish the literary world with her rule-breaking prose. Yawn. It's been done.
Another reviewer said it quite well - 'It's a self-indulgent book, with clanging overtones of "clever me," and a lack of tension that makes the entire effort rather flabby.'
So instead of summers by the lake replete with Southside cocktails (gin, lemon and syrup with a mint garnish) and winters spent indoors contemplating Winslow Homer originals and the crimes of one's forefathers, Madeline ends up in upstate New York, working for the local paper, writing about "winter drinks," green bean casserole recipes, and the wonders of the midway at the 1988 New York State Fair. You hear about culture shock, as poor Madeline experiences cultural cardiac arrest.
But Madeline (who reminds us that Syracuse is in the top four in the country in Cool Whip consumption) is not the first of her tribe to make the trip upstate from the Hamptons; her cousin Lapthorne was there years before, as a soldier at Camp Drum in the late sixties. He was there, as it turns out, at the same time as the famous murder of the unnamed, enigmatic "Rose Girls," left stark and alone in a cornfield garlanded in red and white flowers. And it turns out that one of Madeline's rustic in-laws has found Lapthorne's dog tags while plowing that very field.
That's the mystery at the center of A FIELD OF DARKNESS, and it has a lot to recommend --- tragedy, beauty, the relentless passage of time, the complete lack of motive for the killings.Read more ›
Madeline Dare, is the central character. The author has created a refreshingly, different fictional character. Madeline is employed as a food and drink columnist, in a small town newspaper. She is complex, streetwise, a closet debutante. She comes across as nervous, certainly not too refined and is blessed with a unique sense of humour and maybe slightly pessimistic. Much of this , I would assume would derive from the attitude of a certain branch of her own family! All of which enhances her personality. She lives in upstate New York. She does not particularly like the town in which she lives. This changes, when her often absent husband, Dean, is once again back in town!
The story starts, quite unobtrusively. The year is 1988. Syracuse. A pair of dog tags discovered in a field. Buried in the same place, where several years before, the bodies of two murdered girls were unearthed. The killer(s) were never found. The real shock for Madeline is seeing the name on the tags. The name of Lapthorne Townsend, her own second cousin and a great favourite of hers.
Madeline, against her own better judgement, and certainly those of her friends, decides to try and discover the truth. Her investigations lead her to her child-hood home where old family secrets are unlocked. She realises the full impact of proceeding with her quest, when another murder takes place. Increasingly, Maddie becomes concerned with her own safety.
As the events progress, we are introduced to other characters. Ellis is Madeline's best friend. Where Maddie has self doubts, would take time to second guess before actually committing herself, Ellis is completely different. Her maxim on life, is do it now.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I chose this book after reading so other heavier material.
It was light, easy read but was well written with some twists and turns and some family dynamics!
Caught my interest from the beginning. Already recommended it to my daughter, who lives in Syracuse where this book takes place.Published 15 months ago by Joanne Donahue
Terrific writing, writing you don't normally see/read in suspense/mystery novels. I have purchased the other Madeline Dare novels because this one was so gripping, kept you... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Catherine Meredith
I loved the writing
Very well crafted words and story I will be telling my friends about the one. Bravo
Took me a while to catch the rhythm of the prose, but once I caught the pace of the book, I found it hard to put down. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by Kip
I think the author does a great job of creating her characters so you are always uncertain about who the bad guy might be. I enjoyed it very much.Published on July 13, 2013 by Catharine Capogna
She is smart and sassy, well educated and sensitive, yet at the same time unsure of herself and frightened. Excellent story line, great dialogue, and colorful characters.Published on July 1, 2013 by Beadworker