Dark Lady (Random House Large Print)

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9780375408441: Dark Lady (Random House Large Print)

In Dark Lady, Richard North Patterson displays the mastery of setting, psychology, and story that makes him unique among writers of suspense, and one of today's most original and enthralling novelists.

In Steelton, a struggling Midwestern city on the cusp of an economic turnaround, two prominent men are found dead within days of each other. One is Tommy Fielding, a senior officer of the company building a new baseball stadium, the city's hope for the future. The other is Jack Novak, the local drug dealers' attorney of choice. Fielding's death with a prostitute, from an overdose of heroin, seems accidental; Novak is apparently the victim of a ritual murder. But in each case the character of the dead man seems contradicted by the particulars of his death. Coincidence or connection?

The question falls to Assistant County Prosecutor Stella Marz. Despite a traumatic breach with her alcoholic and embittered father, she has risen from a working-class background to become head of the prosecutor's homicide unit. A driven woman, she is called the Dark Lady by defense lawyers for her relentless, sometimes ruthless, style: in seven years only one case has gotten away from her, and only because the defendant took his own life. She has earned every inch of both her official and her off-the-record titles, and recently she's decided to go after another: to become the first woman elected Prosecutor of Erie County. But that was before the brutal murder of her ex-lover--Jack Novak.

Novak's death leads her into a labyrinth where her personal and professional lives become dangerously intertwined. There is the possibility that Novak fixed drug cases for the city's crime lord, Vincent Moro, with the help of law enforcement personnel, and perhaps with someone in Stella's own office . . . the bitter mayoral race which threatens to undermine her own ambitions . . . her attraction to a colleague who may not be what he seems . . . the lingering, complicated effects of her painful affair with Novak . . . the growing certainty that she is being watched and followed. Making her way through a maze of corruption, deceit, and greed, trusting no one, Stella comes to believe that the search for the truth involves the bleak history of Steelton itself--a history that now endangers her future, and perhaps her life.

For his uncanny dialogue, subtle delineation of character, and hypnotic narrative, critics have compared Richard North Patterson to John O'Hara and Dashiell Hammett. Now, in the character of the Dark Lady, he has created a woman as fascinating as her world is haunting. Dark Lady is his signature work.

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Review:

Dashiell Hammett, a master of big city crime fiction, would have enjoyed Richard North Patterson's latest thriller, set in a fictional Midwestern city called Steelton. This burnt-out burg is located on the shores of Lake Erie--and is a place bitterly divided by politics. The construction of a $275 million baseball stadium threatens to be Steelton's downfall rather than its redemption.

Arthur Bright is the prosecutor of Erie County, but he wants to become mayor. His campaign attacks the new ballpark as a boondoggle, "a shameful diversion of public financing from such pressing needs as better schools, better housing, and safer streets." His protégé, Assistant County Prosecutor Stella Marz is 38, ambitious, and has been dubbed "the dark lady" by various defense lawyers. If Arthur wins the mayoral race, she intends to become prosecutor herself. But two murders involving drugs and twisted sex threaten her future.

First, Tommy Fielding, the project manager for Steelton 2000 (as the new home of the Steelton Blues will be called), is found dead in the company of a hooker--both apparently having overdosed on heroin. The fact that Fielding was gay and had never used drugs before bothers Stella and Chief Detective Nathaniel Dance. Their worries are soon pushed aside by another, more shocking murder--Jack Novak, a defense lawyer, is discovered hanging from his closet door, castrated and dressed in drag. Jack was once Stella's lover--and he was also one of Bright's largest contributors. For Stella, the murders are too close to home. "Maybe this is about me. But I have to see it through."

Dark Lady is shrouded by the dark clouds of deceit and greed, and the sleek structure of Steelton 2000 dominates the landscape like a Dr. Frankenstein's Castle with luxury boxes. --Dick Adler

From the Back Cover:

"ENGROSSING . . . TRUE SUSPENSE."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"[A] COMPLEX TALE OF PERSONAL, POLITICAL, AND CRIMINAL BETRAYALS . . . Dark Lady not only keeps you in suspense; it gives you plenty of social and moral questions to ponder."
--The Wall Street Journal

"EXCELLENT . . . ONCE AGAIN PATTERSON REVEALS HIMSELF TO BE A MASTER OF CRAFTING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS. AND THE LONELY, LOVELY STELLA MARZ . . . IS ONE OF HIS BEST."
--USA Today
From the Paperback edition.

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