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When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel av Paula…

When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel (utgåvan 2021)

av Paula McLain (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3533356,720 (3.77)12
Titel:When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel
Författare:Paula McLain (Författare)
Info:Ballantine Books (2021), 384 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


When the Stars Go Dark av Paula McLain


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”How much do you think you can know about a town this size?” he asked me once, early on. [. . .]


“People you see every day? Houses you pass a thousand times without thinking?”

“I guess so.”

“Think, Anna. What makes a blind spot?”

He meant like when we were driving. “Someone being right on your shoulder, too close to see.”

“That works for people, too. Anyone under your nose just disappears. That’s the danger zone, right next to you. Whoever it is you trust the most.”

(This appears on page 20 of 360 in the book. Hello?! This is a mystery, right? Er, no; not really. Given this conversation, I think you’ll have no more trouble than I in identifying the perpetrator, and without even reading the book! If the novel is on your TBR list, you should stop reading now.)

It’s 1993. Special investigator Anna Hart leaves San Francisco, her marriage crumbling after the accidental death of her young daughter—a tragedy for which her husband and Anna herself believe she is to blame. (The details of the accident are only revealed in the final pages of the book.) Anna drives north to Mendocino, the only real home she’s ever known. As a child, Anna lost her mother to a drug overdose and her half-siblings to the child welfare system. She herself passed through many foster homes before finding some degree of security with Hap—a wise forest ranger who instructed her in the ways of nature and taught her skills to survive in the wilderness; think of a cross between Grandpa Walton and Smoky the Bear—and his intuitive wife, Eden, a walking New-Age stereotype. Both Hap and Eden are dead now, but some of the friends of Anna’s youth remain: one—Will Flood—has followed in his father’s footsteps and become the town’s sheriff; the other, an artist named Caleb Ford, whose twin sister Jenny was abducted and murdered when the friends were teens, has returned to Mendocino, where he lives in relative solitude and paints.

Anna quickly becomes informally involved in a missing persons case that Will is working on. (From the get-go, I had a hard time buying an out-of-town investigator taking on such a role entirely off the record. But if you can swallow that, you might be fine with this book.) The case involves Cameron Curtis, the beautiful fifteen-year-old adopted daughter of a reclusive movie star and her philandering movie-industry husband. Soon after victim #1 goes missing, a middle-school girl in a nearby town also vanishes; she’s abducted from her home during a sleepover with friends. A slightly older girl’s disappearance in the months leading up to these cases may be linked to these recent crimes. Anna, whose own childhood trauma drives her obsession with finding missing young people, cannot rest until she finds Cameron. She attends to her gut feelings and even those of an alpaca-raising psychic. As is typical in this sort of story, Anna’s got a few blind spots. She might observe things, but she’s remarkably slow at putting the pieces together. Obtuse even.

When the Stars Go Dark is a mildly diverting read that demands little from the reader. It’s overly long, has some literary pretensions (the work of the poet Rilke is quoted and Jane Eyre is mentioned, for example), and it’s written in the play-by-play first-person present tense (of the “I set down my duffel in the center of the bed, take out my Glock 19 and tuck it under the stiff pillow . . . Then I grab a change of clothes, and start the shower” variety—i.e., frequent, increasingly tedious lists of unnecessary details and insignificant actions). Most importantly: The identity of the perpetrator isn’t all hard to figure out, and his motivations are ultimately unconvincing.

I seldom read genre fiction. When I do, I almost always findi it unsatisfying. This book was no exception. McLain is a competent enough writer and, having herself grown up in foster care, she writes sensitively and insightfully about children, but, really, that’s about all I have to say. This is not someone whose work I’d return to. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Sep 18, 2021 |
The main character of this book is Anna Hart, a police detective from San Francisco who has recently suffered s personal trauma that makes her leave her husband and son and move to Mendocino for a period of reflection. Put up for adoption at four, Mendocino was her first real home where she felt loved, secure and welcome. She was able to make some great friends and several are still in the town when she returns. A young teenage girl, Cameron Hague has gone missing and Anna offers her missing persons detective experience in the search to the Police chief who is a friend from school.
I found the book long, not very interesting and for a “thriller” it did not instill a sense of dread or fear. Once the kidnapped was identified, it was not a real surprise. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Sep 10, 2021 |
A psychological murder mystery involving a serial predator preying on teenage girls in 1970's California. The detective, Anna Hart, has a lot of personal baggage in her own right. So not only hoping to find a missing girl she is also trying to purge ghosts from her past. The novel takes place during the real life abduction an murder of Polly Klass in California. The novel is tense and should be a hit with mystery lovers. ( )
  muddyboy | Sep 5, 2021 |
This is a departure from McLain's previous works of historical fiction (such as THE PARIS WIFE and CIRCLING THE SUN). This is a thriller based upon real events and set in 1993, just before the internet makes finding missing persons a different kind of task.

The protagonist, Anna Hart, a missing persons detective living in San Francisco, has left her family behind after a tragic accident kills her daughter, and she goes to Mendocino, a former home town, to grieve. There, a constellation of cases of missing girls draws her in, and in working through them, she confronts her childhood traumas from life in foster care.

For me, what makes this an unusually strong thriller is the level of writing, particularly the internal monologue, which often feels pitch-perfect, precise and elegant, even poetic. Quotes are never as powerful out of context, but here are some samples:

"[I felt]... a sadness that seemed to settle into the space between the trees, between the trunks and branches, between the needles and leaves, between the molecules. It climbed inside my body and curled up tightly under my ribs, like a fist made of silver thread."

"When things got hard and you felt shaky, she liked to say, you could hit your knees wherever you were, and the world would be there to catch you."

"What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?"

Ambitious in its themes and compassionate and humane in its ethos, I think this book will appeal to fans of Tana French and Louise Penny. ( )
  KarenOdden | Sep 1, 2021 |
I read this because I loved "Paris Wife" and "Circling the Sun" - the author needs to go back to historical fiction. This reads more like a Patricia Cornwell mystery. A female detective working on kidnapped children apparently has her own dark past with hints dropped throughout the book. Several teenage girls disappear, she becomes unofficially involved but seems to be actually running the investigation. Two many coincidences (which I absolutely hate in novels), and yet at times pretty predictable.

Just not my cup of tea.2021 ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 20, 2021 |
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