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A Darker Place [Mass Market Paperback]

Laurie R. King
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 1999
Called "one of the most original talents to emerge in the '90s" by Kirkus Reviews, award-winning author Laurie R. King delivers an intelligent, terrifying, engrossing drama of good and evil, unlike any she has written before....

A respected university professor, Anne Waverly has a past known to few: Years ago, her own unwitting act cost Anne her husband and daughter. Fewer still know that this history and her academic specialty--alternative religious movements--have made her a brilliant FBI operative. Four times she has infiltrated suspect communities, escaping her own memories of loss and carnage to find a measure of atonement. Now, as she begins to savor life once more, she has no intention of taking another assignment. Until she learns of more than one hundred children living in the Change movement's Arizona compound....

Anne soon realizes that Change is no ordinary community and hers is no ordinary mission. For, far from appeasing the demons of her past, this assignment is sweeping her back into their clutches...and to the razor's edge of danger.

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From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Laurie R. King is an amazing writer Aug. 15 2001
By JulieS
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Not only has Laurie R. King created two amazing original series, the Kate Martinelli and Mary Russell books, but she has written this riveting book as well. She is a master at creating suspense, not in a cheesy John Grisham way, but deliberately leaving you hanging at the end of the chapter so you can't wait to turn the page and find out what happens. This book has a lot of interesting psychological discussions of people involved in cults and shows the mentality of the leaders, and the followers. I think King is a very fair and balanced leader and doesn't make the mistake some writers would make with this subject by showing all cult leaders as amoral, or all cults as harmful. The book keeps you hanging until the ending, which is concise bordering on abrupt. I could see how some people were dissapointed with the ending because it was so curt, but in a way, that's more interesting than books with a long drawn out conclusion and typical "happy ending." King leaves it ambiguous and more up to the reader's imagination (or maybe open to a sequel, I'm not sure). Once again, Laurie R. King shines in the world of shallow popular fiction, outstanding among her peers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read July 9 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really liked this book. I felt like I was right there with her in the story. I think the book was well written. The only thing that I didn't like was that the ending was was kinda abrupt. Hopefully we'll see more of Anne Waverly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly a "Nail-Biter" but Very Interesting June 23 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anne Waverly is a university professor specializing in cults and cult mentalities. When FBI agent Glen McCarthy approaches her for her help in infiltrating a potentially dangerous cult, she says no. This is work she's done for him before, and she doesn't know that she can adopt her other personality as a gullible, innocent, middle-aged woman in search of a place to belong as convincingly as she has in the past. She finally agrees, as Glen knew she would, and starts off to find her way into this cult, Change, in Sedona, Arizona. Change uses the belief that heat and pressure creates change into something better, and centers on alchemy, the practice of turning lead into gold. Her interest in cults and cult mentalities stems from when she, her husband, and her child were in a cult. One day when she went off on her own for some thinking, her husband, her little girl, and the other members of the cult drank poisoned drinks and died. When she encounters a child at Change that could be her little girls twin, she becomes fiercely protective and involved with the little girl and her older brother.
As a thriller or suspense, this novel was pretty disappointing. I didn't feel like I was on the edge of my seat, or that it was a "page-turner". I wasn't at all inclined toward biting my nails and I wasn't "horrified". It wasn't much of a mystery, either. It was an interesting story of a woman trying to find out if this cult was dangerous, but that was all. Read this book because it is an interesting account of a cult, seemingly well-researched, but don't expect much more than that.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually written and well researched. May 11 2001
Format:Hardcover
This is my first book by this author after seeing her speak at a bookshop near home where at least 100 people turned out to listen to her discuss her new book FOLLY. She was interesting and witty and I love a good mystery so I jumped right in. The story leads you into a cult that is rooted by the belief of change and transformation by work and heat. The work that it's followers are led to do is based on the properties of alchemy which is the medieval science pertaining to the transformation of a substance such as lead into silver and gold. The subject on it's own merit caught my attention and seemed quite interesting but I have to say the book dragged on.
Anne Waverly goes in as an undercover FBI agent to get to the bottom of things and is immediately paired up with two children that steal her heart away. It becomes her personal mission to save them from this nightmare that has become their life. For a mystery I found this book quite easy to put down, lacking the page turning effect these books usually have on me. I hoped for more as I read deeper into the book but bombastic as the ending was, it wasn't enough to save the book as a whole. I will try another of King's books because she is so highly praised but I would give this book no more than 3.5 stars. Kelsana 5/11/01
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful book but unsatisfying ending April 20 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When compared with other mysteries the book was quite good. The plot develops in an pleasantly deliberate manner. SPOILER WARNING! However, this is the second book I have read recently that depends entirely on the narrator's description of the thoughts of a single character and yet ends with that character unconscious. The author spends hundreds of pages making the reader dependent on the inner monologue and reflections of the main character and then essentially abandons the reader by not providing that character's reflections on the ultimate events in the story. If the main character dies, so be it, but if she is alive, we want to hear from her.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing & boring Jan. 12 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I love Laurie King's other books, so I was enormously disappointed that this one has none of her crackling dialogue, wonderful character development and engrossing storytelling. I waited and waited for it to "get started" -- but alas, it never did. Too much intellectualizing, a lot of wordy prose, weak and uninteresting characters. Every writer is entitled to a clunker now and then. I guess this one is King's. I recommend all of her other books highly. Anyone who hasn't read them is missing a real treat!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip It.
I've enjoyed King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels and her Kate Martenelli series. She should stick with them. Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Escott Fleming
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally unsatisfying
This book purports to be about cults and alchemy. The author offers
no real insight into either, much less turning these two fascinating
subjects into a book worth... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars A mystical thriller but not much mystery
This review is based on the 10 tape unabridged audio book.
Fans of the The Beekeeper's Apprentice will be in for a shock in reading this book. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2000 by Carol Peterson Hennekens
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and revealing page-turner
A Darker Place by Laurie King is a fascinating book which, once I picked up, could not put down until I was finished with it. I did nothing but read this for a few days. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2000 by K. Durkin
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment.
This book was a bit disappointing. After all, Laurie King's Mary Russell series is a humdinger. Those are real page-turners. This one was not. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2000 by MLPlayfair
4.0 out of 5 stars The End
Laurie King is just about my favorite writer and I love the Mary/Sherlock books (I've never read the Kate Martinelli series), but this is the third book I've read in the last... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Engrossing
Laurie R. King brings us a terrifying & interesting tale of good versus evil.
Ann Waverly is a Duncan Point University Professor & an occasional undercover FBI... Read more
Published on July 28 2000 by Pamela Stone
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