Instruments of Night

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9780786218257: Instruments of Night

Paul Graves knows evil to the bone. He confronted it first as a boy, when he witnessed the torture and murder of his sister. Now he writes mystery stories set in gaslight New York, a world coloured by Graves' own past. Graves is invited to spend the summer at Riverwood, at artists' community in upstate New York. But for all its splendour and isolation Riverwood was once touched by crime - a teenage girl from the estate was murdered fifty years before. When Graves is asked to investigate the murder it is more than just the exploration of a long-past crime: he must apply the art of mystery fiction to the murder, then write a story that will enable the victim's mother finally to find peace.

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Review:

Paul Graves is a crime writer obsessed with a single crime--the murder of his own teenaged sister on their Southern farm almost 40 years before. To work out his guilt and fear, he has created a series of mysteries set at the turn of the century, in which a dedicated detective pursues a fiendish killer called Kessler--the real name of the man who slaughtered his sister. His obsession has made Graves a sad, lonely man, "living thinly, without connections," already preparing to kill himself when he can no longer write his books.

Keeping readers interested in a dark and brooding character like Graves is no easy task, and Thomas H. Cook--who won an Edgar for his superb The Chatham School Affair--needs all his narrative skills to avoid sinking us in a sea of gloom. Invited to Riverwood, a Hudson River Valley estate turned into a writers' retreat, to help solve a 50-year-old mystery involving the death of a young woman, Graves is assisted by a shrewd and sympathetic playwright, Eleanor Stern. Together, they sift through all the clues linking the dead girl to the wealthy family who owned the estate. Old-fashioned detective work plays a large part in discovering what really happened, as well as the too-convenient appearance of files and live witnesses from the period. As for Graves and his disconcerting habit of slipping back into the past at more and more frequent intervals ("You're always imagining things, aren't you? Terrible things," one character says to him), a final revelation about his personal demons turns out to be no surprise at all. Other, more satisfying Cook books available in paperback include Evidence of Blood and Breakheart Hill. --Dick Adler

From the Inside Flap:

On a humid summer evening in 1963, following a hard day's work in the field, twelve-year-old Paul Graves came home to a nightmare. Snatched by a stranger, strapped to a chair in a sweltering farmhouse, he watched in horror as the man orchestrated the slow, deliberate, night-long brutalization and murder of his older sister....

Now, more than thirty years later, Graves is a marginally successful writer who has lost himself in the anonymity of Manhattan and in the mind-numbing world of his crime fiction. But still held captive by his memories, still haunted by this sister's agonized whispers, he writes chilling tales of cruelty and sadism, of evil triumphing over good. Stories so convincing, they have earned him an invitation to the Riverwood Estate. But not to practice his craft as a writer. Alison Davies, who runs the retreat, is convinced he's the one man capable of bringing closure to the mystery that has haunted her own family, asking him to investigate the fifty-year-old unsolved murder of 16-year-old Faye Harrision, Alison's best friend, who was tortured, strangled, and left to molder in the dark confines of a cave.

Graves, more than anyone, knows where to look for the truth, where the instruments of night are brought to bear: In the deep basements, the dark caves, the lonely farmhouses where cowardice bows before corruption, where love cannot withstand the intimidation and pain. Compelled to peer into the chaos of twisted motives and tainted passions, he will confront the ultimate atrocity. Not about who killed Faye Harrison, or who killed his sister. Not about what he has witnessed and could never reveal. But about what he is capable of...and what he has done.

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Book Description Thorndike Press April 1999, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used. Book condition is good or better unless otherwise noted. Paperbacks, especially mass market paperbacks, will have spine creasing and may have age toned pages and curled covers. Binding will be intact, no major splits unless otherwise noted. We do our best to describe each book accurately. Any discrepancy between what is described and what is pulled will be noted in an email. If you would like a detailed description beyond what has been provided, please ask. Bookseller Inventory # 20101003116156

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