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Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Darker Place

A Darker Place
by Laurie R. King
audiobook: 14.5 hours

*** About the Book ***

Anne Waverly is a 40-something professor of religion, an unassuming, quiet, well-respected woman. She is also, occasionally, an undercover agent for the FBI. However this is not the adventure that it seems. Anne is usually drawn into an investigation of a suspected cult against her will, and this time is no different. Her current case involves a relatively new religious sect with branches in the US, Japan, and England. The FBI isn’t sure exactly what is going on with this group but they are suspicious that something unsavory is up. What will Anne find when she joins the Arizona group as a new member? Do the enigmatic leaders of the group truly believe the message they are preaching or are they charlatans, in it only for themselves? And what should Anne make of the foster program that brings new children into the group with the state’s approval?

*** Why I Read It ***

I’m already a fan of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series and a follower of Laurie’s blog. Recently Laurie blogged about the genesis of each of her previous novels; her post about this book caught my attention.

*** My Thoughts ***

I really got into this book right from the start. I loved the concept of the story and found the main character, Anne, to be fascinating. The book was rolling along nicely for quite a while.

Then things got a bit … let’s say “odd”, okay? First there were some coincidences that, for me, pulled me out of the story. A few times I thought to myself, “now that would NEVER really happen.” And second, there is a plot development that rather creeped me out. I can’t discuss it without giving spoilers, so be aware that the section in italics below does include minor plot spoilers.

*** SPOILERS *** Anne developed a strange and passionate crush on Jason. This wouldn’t be bad except that Anne is in her late 40s and Jason is 14. Yes, you read that right. Of course, Anne does not know he is 14 (she thinks he’s 18). She immediately realizes that her crush is completely inappropriate and does nothing to act on it but that part still made me distinctly uncomfortable. Just because it isn’t an older man with a crush on a young girl doesn’t make it any less disturbing. Part of me wanted to stop listening to the story at this point but another part of me admired Laurie for her ability to make me feel so intensely about this. *** END SPOILERS ***

The first two thirds of the book were pretty good (aside from those coincidences I mentioned). I was getting pretty frustrated near the end though, and I was all set to not like the book. Then there were some plot twists that I totally didn’t see coming and that redeemed it quite a bit.

I’m thinking I should have had lower expectations for this book. I mean, I LOVE Laurie's Mary Russell books so I was really expecting a lot from this one. In the end, I can’t say that this was a favorite but I did enjoy it for the most part.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Have you ever been disappointed by a beloved author? Does that affect your enjoyment of that author's other books?

If you've read this book, what did you think of it? Am I alone in thinking the way I do?


Kay said...

I have not read this book, or I don't think so, but I was aware of it. I think I might have started it one time and then not completed it. In any case, Laurie King's standalone books are very different from her Mary Russell series. Her other series is also different although I have read two or three of those. Think I listened to them on audio. I liked them very much, but quite a change from Mary Russell. I understand your repulsion for the part you highlighted. That would be a bit difficult to take. Thanks for the review, Heather.

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

I haven't read any of her books and will have to check her out. This one sounds really interesting.

Tribute Books said...

Will add to my pile, thanks for the review.

bermudaonion said...

Sounds interesting, but I think I'll try one of her Mary Russell books first.

Heather J. said...

Kay - I guess I shouldn't have expected it to be like the MR books, but I was hoping! :)

Robin - You should definitely start with her Mary Russell series - it is excellent.

Tribute Books - You're welcome.

bermudaonion - Most definitely!

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