Saturday, October 18, 2008

REVIEW: A Field of Darkness

Title: A Field of Darkness
Author: Cornelia Read
ISBN: 9780446699495/Warner Books
Protagonist: journalist Madeline Dare
Setting: Syracuse and Long Island, New York in 1988
Series: #1
Rating: A-

First Lines: There are people who can be happy anywhere. I am not one of them.

Madeline Dare comes from Old Money in Long Island, New York. Money so old that none of it's left. Married to Dean, a railway worker and inventor who's gone for long periods of time, Madeline finds herself in the "mental dust bowl" of Syracuse, New York, writing puff pieces for the local newspaper. Then someone hands her a set of old dog tags that were found at a decades-old murder site. The name on the tags? That of her favorite cousin. Profoundly shocked, Madeline decides to do her own investigating to prove that her cousin couldn't possibly be the murderer.

I was hooked from the first two sentences. (Like Madeline, I am not a person who can be happy anywhere.) The more I read, the more I was hooked by her love for her husband, her views on anything from the rich and shameless to the environment, and her sarcasm. Following her investigation was painful, but mesmerizing. Madeline so obviously doesn't know what she's doing, and her stumbling and bumbling have dire consequences for others. I wasn't shocked at the outcome; as the clues were placed before me, I knew there could be no other. Regardless of my pain in reading about her "investigation", I couldn't put this book down. The setting, the time period, the characters all came to life for me in Read's debut.

Unlike many other books that I finish reading and wonder where the author got the background, there's no guesswork to A Field of Darkness. At the end of the book, Read very clearly states from where much of the background came: her own life. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series, The Crazy School. I sincerely hope that Madeline will become a better investigator!


  1. Thanks for the review. I'd never heard of this book and now it's on my wish list.

  2. I was impressed by the quality of the prose in this book, as it was a debut novel, but the story itself didn't hold interest for me. It had the feel of a Mary Stewart book, just a little edgier.

  3. I haven't read Mary Stewart since I was a teenager, which was a lot of years ago. My brain is trying to compare the two and not succeeding. Ah well. I always like to hear other people's opinions of the books I've read. Thanks!


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