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A Field of Darkness: A Novel

by

A Field of Darkness: A Novel Cover

 

Staff Pick

Heroine Madeline Dare is a descendant of the rarefied world of East Coast old money. She also cracks wise and shoots from the hip, literally. At once a first-rate mystery, this well-told tale is also a brilliant and witty portrait of class resentments in America.
Recommended by Kathi, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Madeline Dare would be the first to tell you her money is so old there's none left. A former socialite from an aristocratic family in decline, Maddie is a tough-talking, would-be journalist exiled to the rust belt of upstate New York. Her prospects for changing her dreary lifestyle seem dim — until a set of dog tags found at a decades-old murder site is linked to her family.

Shocked into action, Maddie embarks on a search that takes her from the derelict smokestacks of Syracuse to the posh mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast. But instead of the warm refuge of home, this prodigal daughter soon uncovers dark, sinister secrets that will violently challenge everything she believes in and holds dear.

Review:

"Read's impressive debut stars the unusual Madeline Dare, a jumble of contradictions who comes from an old-money Long Island family but is married to Dean, a railroad worker, in Syracuse, N.Y., which our heroine likens in a moment of exasperation to 'some mental dust bowl.' Dean's job requires frequent travel, while Madeline writes fluff features for the local newspaper. Nothing in her background prepares her for trying to solve the bizarre 20-year-old murder of two young women, a crime that her cousin, Lapthorne Townsend, might have been involved in. Read writes with verve and passion as Madeline sets out to clear her cousin's name, an effort that develops into a much larger, life-changing struggle. Some readers may find Madeline's volatile character less than credible, but the fine supporting cast — notably husband Dean and flaky, flamboyant friend Ellis — consistently delights. The author's sharp social commentary on everything from the idle rich to the environment adds to the pleasure. 5-city author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This is sure to be loved by fans of comic mysteries, but don't be surprised if Tom Wolfe readers are equally smitten by Read's venomously witty portrait of a fallen WASP." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Read's sensational debut features spot-on descriptions of upstate-downstate conflicts, strong characterizations and a fascinating plot." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"First-time novelist Cornelia Read makes a rousing foray into the genre....Readers will eagerly anticipate Read's next novel." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Review:

"Read is a natural, fluent storyteller....A Field of Darkness will please both mystery and literary fiction readers." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"With her hysterically funny dialog and inspired views on life, Read is a delight." Library Journal

Review:

"Sparks seem to fly off the pages of Cornelia Read's A Field of Darkness, a stylishly written debut novel...powered by a sensational narrator's voice and lively characterizations....Read is a big talent." The Boston Globe

Review:

"The mystery component is slender and too attenuated to be suspenseful, but the clipped accents of Madeline's sardonic voice keep calling us back..." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[S]heer joy, complete with cutting prose and gleefully off-kilter pop culture references....Just like her book, Cornelia Read is starting out her career as a novelist like a house afire." BookReporter.com

Review:

"Intense, creepy, and wonderfully erudite." Laura Lippman, author of To the Power of Three

Review:

"Completely captivating — wry, knowing, hip, intelligent, exciting. A brand new voice that's entirely convincing straight out of the gate. One of the best debuts I've ever seen." Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of One Shot and The Hard Way

Synopsis:

A tough-talking, shotgun-toting debutante gets in over her head investigating a pair of cold case murders in this assured, thrilling first novel.

About the Author

Cornelia Read lives in Berkeley, California.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Andi, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Andi)
Okay, we know how ridiculous it is to try to remember the best book you read over the last 10 years. Good grief! But this first novel by Cornelia Read took my breath away. I know the author, it's true, but I don't EVER pretend to like a book by a friend. Not ever. That does not matter. A FIELD OF DARKNESS knocked my bright stripy knee socks right off. Every time I've read it. The amazing strong, original, smart, sassy spot-on voice of Madeline Dare, the RIGHT THERE sense of place, the astonishing funny bits in a very serious story about a murder that took place years ago. It's an amazing book and a stand-out for someone who reads dozens, if not hundreds of books a year. This comment means I can't rave about SJ Rozan's ABSENT FRIENDS but that's what I get!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
dc2nyc, May 21, 2008 (view all comments by dc2nyc)
I've seen all the glowing reviews for this book, and to be honest I'm pretty baffled. The "unique voice" I keep hearing about seemed to me to be forced and stilted and overrun with juvenile cliches and contrived metaphors. I have to admit, to a point it was amusing, but I don't think it was amusing in quite the "look how clever I am" way it was intended. It was self-indulgent, and vaguely offensive in parts - especially knowing the "heroine" was based so closely on the author. The homophobic slurs on the part of her characters were received without reproach or offense from the main character. Some say it's a rookie mistake for a reviewer to confuse the author with the character, but in this case I think it was the author's mistake to blur the lines so severely between mystery and self-serving autobiography.
The fact that the plot was so predictable was secondary to the frustrating prose and poor character development. I get the whole fallen rich kid thing, but it was hard to muster up any sympathy for a character I just couldn't bring myself to like. And I can only help but wonder - why am I the only person who was disturbed by the fact that she wanted so badly to sleep with her cousin?
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780446699495
Author:
Read, Cornelia
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Upper class
Subject:
Criminal investigation
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Married women; Socialites; Aristocracy; Family histories; Journalists; Unsolved murders; Cousins; Family secrets
Copyright:
Series:
A Madeline Dare Novel
Publication Date:
July 11, 2007
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.01x5.17x.88 in. .67 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

A Field of Darkness: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Warner Books - English 9780446699495 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Heroine Madeline Dare is a descendant of the rarefied world of East Coast old money. She also cracks wise and shoots from the hip, literally. At once a first-rate mystery, this well-told tale is also a brilliant and witty portrait of class resentments in America.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Read's impressive debut stars the unusual Madeline Dare, a jumble of contradictions who comes from an old-money Long Island family but is married to Dean, a railroad worker, in Syracuse, N.Y., which our heroine likens in a moment of exasperation to 'some mental dust bowl.' Dean's job requires frequent travel, while Madeline writes fluff features for the local newspaper. Nothing in her background prepares her for trying to solve the bizarre 20-year-old murder of two young women, a crime that her cousin, Lapthorne Townsend, might have been involved in. Read writes with verve and passion as Madeline sets out to clear her cousin's name, an effort that develops into a much larger, life-changing struggle. Some readers may find Madeline's volatile character less than credible, but the fine supporting cast — notably husband Dean and flaky, flamboyant friend Ellis — consistently delights. The author's sharp social commentary on everything from the idle rich to the environment adds to the pleasure. 5-city author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This is sure to be loved by fans of comic mysteries, but don't be surprised if Tom Wolfe readers are equally smitten by Read's venomously witty portrait of a fallen WASP."
"Review" by , "Read's sensational debut features spot-on descriptions of upstate-downstate conflicts, strong characterizations and a fascinating plot."
"Review" by , "First-time novelist Cornelia Read makes a rousing foray into the genre....Readers will eagerly anticipate Read's next novel."
"Review" by , "Read is a natural, fluent storyteller....A Field of Darkness will please both mystery and literary fiction readers."
"Review" by , "With her hysterically funny dialog and inspired views on life, Read is a delight."
"Review" by , "Sparks seem to fly off the pages of Cornelia Read's A Field of Darkness, a stylishly written debut novel...powered by a sensational narrator's voice and lively characterizations....Read is a big talent."
"Review" by , "The mystery component is slender and too attenuated to be suspenseful, but the clipped accents of Madeline's sardonic voice keep calling us back..."
"Review" by , "[S]heer joy, complete with cutting prose and gleefully off-kilter pop culture references....Just like her book, Cornelia Read is starting out her career as a novelist like a house afire."
"Review" by , "Intense, creepy, and wonderfully erudite."
"Review" by , "Completely captivating — wry, knowing, hip, intelligent, exciting. A brand new voice that's entirely convincing straight out of the gate. One of the best debuts I've ever seen."
"Synopsis" by , A tough-talking, shotgun-toting debutante gets in over her head investigating a pair of cold case murders in this assured, thrilling first novel.
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