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A Darker Place Mass Market Paperback – Dec 1 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (Dec 1 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553578243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553578249
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.8 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #817,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
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. It was very riveting. It is a very well-researched, well-written mystery, focussing on Professor Anne Waverly's investigation of a religious cult for the FBI. It also reviews her own tragic history with a cult and her continuing emotional trauma and grief.
The book is very informative about religious cults. The author obviously did a lot of research to write this book and it is interesting. However, she does base this particular cult on the literal, figurative and metaphorical use of alchemy. One does have to be able to tune in to her mindset on this theme.
At times I found it a little ridiculous when it reached extremes but then I realized that many religious cults do have very strange belief systems, some that have led to mass suicides. So the extreme beliefs and actions of the cult's leaders are not so strange when one considers real cults that have or do exist.
Some have questioned the ending and thought the author gave up or didn't know how to end it. I don't agree with that. While I thought the ending "went off the deep end," and was a bit too much, the author did lay the groundwork for her ending. She explained the metaphorical use of alchemy to bring transformations, she explained the destructive inclinations of the cult's leader and let the readers know he was not mentally stable. She did lay the basis for her ending.
Also, she did tell us enough in the end for a satisfactory finish as much as many authors tell us, especially in mysteries. We know what happened to the main characters, to those we cared about.
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