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A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read

A Field of Darkness is the first in a new series.  Read has released two more installments after this one (and the reviews for those will be forthcoming).  There is a marked difference in the feel and tone between Field and its successors.  It makes me wonder if maybe the first one was first intended as a stand alone novel.  Nevertheless this (and its successors) is a gripping mystery story related by a sharp tongued, witty narrator.  It's a page turner, very hard to put down and is populated with elements that always seem to intrigue me: family history, fairy tales and murder.

It's 1988, and Madeline Dare is unhappily ensconced in Syracuse, New York, her husband's hometown.  Though she writes for a local, free, weekly newspaper, she is the opposite of the intrepid, investigative reporter chomping at the bit for her big break.  Madeline is quite happy writing the fluff lifestyle and home pieces for the newspaper.  Then a chilling, unsolved, double murder drops into her lap, and she is reluctantly cast in the role of fledgling investigative journalist.

In 1969 two sisters were murdered and their bodies dumped in a field.  The murders were never solved, and the girls were never identified.  Madeline discovers a set of dog tags baring her favorite cousin's name was found recently in the same field where those bodies were dumped.  She determines to ascertain the nature of her cousin's involvement before taking what she knows to the police--lest an innocent man get pegged as a murderer.

Through research, awkwardly bungled interviews, and old fashioned detective work, Madeline churns up enough information to identify both the girls and a likely suspect, who, besides being equal parts nasty, scummy, and dangerous, is former law enforcement.  When her equally nasty boss catches wind of what she's doing, Madeline reluctantly agrees to take the assignment of an update feature on the cold murder case.  As a result she is forced to continue her investigation, to build an airtight case both for her story and for the authorities.  Just as Madeline starts cranking up her investigation, a witness turns up dead, and she realizes that it's not just about laying a decades old case to rest--it's about smoking out a still alive and active murderer before others, including Madeline herself, die so the murderer can keep his secrets buried.

I highly recommend you pick up this book the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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