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When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel Hardcover – April 13, 2021
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“Fueled by pure high anxiety . . . When the Stars Go Dark is an atmospheric and intricately plotted suspense novel.”—The Washington Post
“This mystery will keep you guessing, and stay with you long after you finish. Dive in.”—theSkimm
“A total departure for the author of The Paris Wife, McLain’s emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller entwines its fictional crime with real cases.”—People, “Book of the Week”
“The twisty plot keeps the pages flying, and Paula McLain’s lyrical and poetic prose reveals insight after insight about the human heart, making this riveting read not only an engrossing psychological thriller, but crime fiction of the highest order.”—Lisa Scottoline, author of Someone Knows
“When the Stars Go Dark is a beautifully written, sharply observed literary thriller with an extraordinary, unforgettable heroine. An unflinching look at the long shadow cast by trauma and the resilience it takes to survive, this is a novel of both great sadness and great beauty.”—Kristin Hannah, author of The Four Winds
“Paula McLain has created a vulnerable, intelligent, unforgettable protagonist whose interior life is as interesting as the mysteries she has to solve. When the Stars Go Dark is my favorite kind of book. I’ll recommend it far and wide.”—Liz Moore, author of Long Bright River
“Lyrical and beautiful . . . a riveting deep dive into trauma, survival, and obsession. With her deeply flawed and utterly compelling heroine, elegant prose, and layered, twisting story, Paula McLain has penned an extraordinary novel of literary suspense, as gripping as it is unique and unforgettable.”—Lisa Unger, author of Confessions on the 7:45
“With this breathtaking novel, Paula McLain proves she can do anything. Exquisitely written, immersive, and atmospheric, When the Stars Go Dark is a tour de force of literary suspense.”—Christina Baker Kline, author of The Exiles
“Paula McLain, already established as the master of the historical novel, now explodes into crime fiction with a richly satisfying, tremendously moving mystery—haunting, poignant, lyrical, urgent.”—Chris Pavone, author of The Paris Diversion
“Fantastically propulsive and deeply atmospheric, this novel grabs you from the very first page. Paula McLain has proven to be a masterful storyteller no matter the genre.”—Aimee Molloy, author of The Perfect Mother
“This melancholy but gripping tale uses backstory and flashbacks to propel the mystery forward. Part suspense, part self-discovery tale, this first attempt at crime fiction from historical fiction author McLain (The Paris Wife) is hard to resist. Fans of the author’s other works will not be disappointed.”—Library Journal
“[A] stunning crime novel . . . McLain matches poetic prose with deep characterizations as she shines a light on the kindness in her characters’ souls. Fans of literary suspense won’t be able to put this one down.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
- Publisher : Ballantine Books (April 13, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593237897
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593237892
- Item Weight : 1.28 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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Anna is an investigator of missing children. After a personal tragedy, she's taking time off work and decides to return to her "hometown" for some down time. When she sees a flyer for a missing girl, Cameron Curtis, memories from her own youth and the disappearance of her acquaintance Jenny come flooding back. Unable to disengage and take the personal time she needs, Anna reaches out to her old friend Will who happens to be heading the investigation and offers her services.
There was A LOT going on in this novel - with Anna, with the investigation (and several others), and with the history of the town and characters. Chapters tended to alternate between the present (likely set in the late 1990s because the internet was just taking off) and Anna's past with her two siblings being taken away and Anna going through the foster care system. The present storyline presented several investigations - the disappearance of Cameron Curtis in addition to two other current potential kidnappings, Jenny's death when Anna lived in Mendocino, and hitchhiking murders that occurred in the 1970s. With all the various plot lines came a lot of characters and a lot of back stories. The connections were hard to find and the characters were very hard for me to keep track of.
While I generally enjoyed the back stories and subplots, it ended up being just TOO MUCH. For example, I felt Anna's entire personal crisis could have been cut. It was addressed in the first couple chapters, largely ignored for the middle 95% of the book, and then thrown in at the end to wrap everything up. It explained why Anna went to Mendocino (kind of), but otherwise served very little purpose to the overall story. On top of that, I felt like it was used as a literary tool to hook the reader by giving us super vague and upsetting details in the beginning without any actual information, but then was so ignored for so much of the book that I kind of stopped caring.
We had so much of Anna's backstory that I felt really bogged down by the details and actually missed anything about her personally. She was hard to connect to and even with so much history, felt like an "unknown" to me.
Much of the book felt like it was just setting up plot lines in order to create a series. I have no idea if this is the case but diving so deep into the police procedural for the other kidnappings often felt unnecessary and made the book overly long. It also introduced a lot more characters which added to my struggle of already keeping everyone straight.
While overall I did enjoy this book, it wasn't one I needed to pick up constantly or couldn't put down. Unfortunately, it probably won't really stick with me. I was actually a little surprised it wasn't a debut and think it could have been much better if the subplots had been trimmed or even cut entirely.
If you enjoy complex police procedurals and character studies, this may be a good one for you!
Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.
Top reviews from other countries
Anna Hart, a seasoned detective in missing persons, is dealing with her own personal tragedy and taking time out. Not working, losing a child and now her husband she sets off to California for some space and to start the process of rebuilding her life. Meeting an old friend Will Flood, Anna is drawn into solving the case of another missing girl Cameron Curtis.
The story is totally gripping in parts whilst the detectives are up against the clock in trying to find Cameron, because most people know that over 70% of children are killed in the first 3-5 hours apparently. Although I didn’t relate to the death of children, the plot, the characters, and the landscape were skillfully woven and vividly depicted throughout the book.
I also read the story about one of the victims after reading “When the stars go dark” and so found it disturbing that one of these children died at the hands of a true monster, who even mocked the parents in the court room. He is still on death row today. It is good to hear that justice was done and these murders didn’t add to the shelves of unsolved cases.
A fantastic book if you can deal with the subject matter, because justice is done !!!