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A Darker Place Mass Market Paperback – Dec 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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I've enjoyed King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels and her Kate Martenelli series. She should stick with them. Read morePublished on July 31 2001 by Escott Fleming
I really liked this book. I felt like I was right there with her in the story. I think the book was well written. Read morePublished on July 9 2001 by E. dutenhaver
When compared with other mysteries the book was quite good. The plot develops in an pleasantly deliberate manner. SPOILER WARNING! Read morePublished on April 20 2001
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2001
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
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
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 morePublished on Sept. 10 2000 by MLPlayfair
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 morePublished on Aug. 16 2000