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The dead girl lay faceup on the edge of the pond, a snake coiled in the muddy hollow of one arm. For Police Chief Nalen Storrow, it was a shocking reminder of the violence he thought he'd left behind when he moved his wife and children to Flowering Dogwood, Maine, a town where no one locks their doors. And now Storrow's search for the truth leads to a chilling possibility...the murderer might be his own son, Billy.
Eighteen years later the murder of the girl in the pond has never been solved. Now a different cop is obsessed with the case--Rachel Storrow, Billy's grown sister. But no sooner does Rachel reopen the investigation than another young woman disappears. Once again Billy is a suspect, though far from the only suspect in town. The harder Rachel peers behind Flowering Dogwood's picture-perfect facade--at the center of which is the respected Winfield School for the Blind and Special Needs--the more the mystery deepens.
A cunning psychopath is moving undetected through Rachel's hometown, taking her on a journey of suspicion, doubt, and bone-deep fear. Plunged into a world where darkness follows even the innocent, Rachel must unearth secrets that span decades and face a staggering personal truth.
Darkness Peering is more than a harrowing suspense novel of the first rank. It is a powerful portrait of a woman who, like her father, must walk the tightrope between honor and justice, and in doing so tests her own humanity.
Review: Moving from writing short stories to a novel is more than a test of endurance--it involves a daunting feat of courage as well as working a whole new set of muscles. Luckily, Alice Blanchard (whose collection The Stuntman's Daughter won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize) has courage and muscles to spare. Her debut thriller starts on familiar turf: the transplanted big-city cop taking on the job of small-town police chief to create a better life for his family. But Nalen Storrow, who moved from Boston to the Maine community of Flowering Dogwood, hasn't found the paradise he or his family was seeking. The faded town has a rather high crime rate, including the murder of a teenage girl with Down's syndrome in 1980, which begins the book. Nalen's own teenage son, Billy, quickly hooks up with the wrong crowd--and local gossip connects him to the murder. Billy's behavior has driven a wedge between Nalen and his wife, damaging their marriage. In fact, the only family member who seems bettered by the move is daughter Rachel, who at age 9 is a smart and pretty child who idolizes her father.
Blanchard has a heaven-sent gift for summing characters up in a phrase--like the local medical examiner: "Archie was all dancing belly--a balding, fortyish indoor enthusiast who barreled toward the scene with the kind of eagerness most people reserved for sex or steak dinners...." She guides us through Nalen Storrow's disintegrating world with deceptive ease. And then she segues seamlessly into Rachel's inevitable reappearance 18 years later as a police officer in the very same town. Rachel uncovers leads to the unsolved murder of the young girl from two decades ago and also investigates a new murder. Along the way, we get wonderful helpings of poetry from Poe (including the perfect title) and from Yeats. Who could ask for anything more--except a sequel? --Dick Adler
Title: Darkness Peering
Publisher: Wheeler Pub Inc
Book Condition: Very Good
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