Named one of the "9 Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read" by Oprah Winfrey
Closet debutante and fledgling journalist Madeline Dare would be the first to tell you her money's so old there's none left. The summer of 1988 finds her in brokedown upstate New York and desperate to achieve escape velocity. When a set of dog tags turns up at the scene of a decades-unsolved double murder, she may have found that longed-for ticket out of town.
Downside: the name on the tags is that of her favorite Oyster Bay cousin, scion of a vindictive and still-powerful branch of the family. Maddie's investigation triggers a string of grisly new murders, and the trail of blue blood leads right to her door.
Grand Central Publishing paperback, July 2007, ISBN: 9780446699495
"Cornelia Read's dry, pull-no-punches voice, sassy jokes, quick side references, and rapid-fire banter feel like a noir version of Gilmore Girls. Really, really noir."
Nathalie Gorman, Oprah.com (read the full review)
"Read's impressive debut stars the unusual Madeline
Dare, a jumble of contradictions who comes from an
old-money Long Island family but is married to Dean, a
railroad worker, in Syracuse, N.Y., which our heroine
likens in a moment of exasperation to "some mental
dust bowl." Dean's job requires frequent travel, while
Madeline writes fluff features for the local
newspaper. Nothing in her background prepares her for
trying to solve the bizarre 20-year-old murder of two
young women, a crime that her cousin, Lapthorne
Townsend, might have been involved in. Read writes
with verve and passion as Madeline sets out to clear
her cousin's name, an effort that develops into a much
larger, life-changing struggle. Some readers may find
Madeline's volatile character less than credible, but
the fine supporting castnotably husband Dean and
flaky, flamboyant friend Ellisconsistently delights.
The author's sharp social commentary on everything
from the idle rich to the environment adds to the
"Read's sensational debut features spot-on descriptions
of upstate-downstate conflicts, strong
characterizations and a fascinating plot."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Every page is a pleasure in this mystery debut
featuring barb-wielding, ex-debutante Madeline Dare... Read's plot
crackles and pops, but her characters steal the show.
Among them: a shifty-eyed silhouettist, a lustful
livestock auctioneer, and in-laws who make the cast of
Deliverance seem urbane. Madeline's own parents are
irrepressible, too. "Mealtime conversation," writes
Read, "was like watching Fellini and Wodehouse drop
acid." This is sure to be loved by fans of comic
mysteries, but don't be surprised if Tom Wolfe readers
are equally smitten by Read's venomously witty
portrait of a fallen WASP."
Booklist (starred review)
"Read offers a great take on the world of the moneyed and the differences between those who have and those who don't. With her hysterically funny dialog and inspired views on life, Read is a delight to, well...read. One hopes this is the first in what will be a very prolific writing career."
Library Journal (starred review)
"Cornelia Read is a dazzling new voice who clearly has
a very old soul. A Field of Darkness is written with
such assurance and style that it's hard to believe
it's her publishing debut. Intense, creepy and
Laura Lippman, author of To the Power of Three
"Completely captivatingwry, knowing, hip,
intelligent, exciting. A brand new voice that's
entirely convincing straight out of the gate. One of
the best debuts I've ever seen."
Lee Child, NY Times bestselling author of One Shot
"Cornelia Read's A Field of Darkness is the best book
I've read in the past year, with phrases so good, I've
stolen them for my personal lexicon. That it's a debut
novel bodes well for my future reading happiness.
Cornelia, live long and write fast!"
Harley Jane Kozak, author of Dating is Murder and Dating Dead Men and winner of the Agatha, Anthony & Macavity Awards
"Cornelia Read's debut is a marvel. She has a keen eye
for detail; her observations are so sharp they draw
blood. This is a terrific book."
Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
"A Field of Darkness is wonderfulsassy, smart, sad
and engaging. What a voice! Here is the beginning of
talent writ huge."
Ken Bruen, Edgar nominated and Shamus Award-Winning author of The Guards
"Cornelia Read delivers a smart, darkly funny, and
intense read that's the working definition of
un-put-downable. Best of all, she introduces the
penniless but blue-blooded Madeline Dare, a heroine
who's practically the anti-Gatsbymuch more likely
to pull out a shotgun and blast the green light to
smithereens than moon over it. I'm hooked."
Joshilyn Jackson, bestselling author of gods In Alabama
"Cornelia Read's A Field of Darkness is a smart and
stylish mystery about the fascinating,
little-understood, and deeply American theme of old
money. For any writer, much less a first-timer,
Read's command of the language and especially of
cross-cultural idiom is especially effectivewryly
funny, erudite, and consistently entertaining. New
first novelists bewareif this is the new bar,
they're setting it awfully high."
John Lescroart, NY Times bestselling author of The Motive
"A terrific debut. Cornelia Read is a fresh voice in a crowded field. Madeline Dare is a protagonist worth rooting for. I'm looking forward to more from this gifted new author. Highly recommended."
Sheldon Siegel, NY Times bestselling author of The Confession
"You're going to hear a lot about Cornelia Read
because she's the real thing. One does not often see
such expert wordsmithing in a debut novel, but Read
handles prose like a seasoned veteran. It's hard to
believe this is her first novel but very easy to
believe it won't be her last."
Victor Gischler, author of Gun Monkeys and Suicide Squeeze
"Cornelia Read's debut mystery is as addictive as
funnel cakes and skeeball, with all the twists, turns,
and terrors of the Funhouse. Tough-talking yet
vulnerable heroine Madeline Dare uncovers a
20-year-old murder at the New York State Fair with
bravado and sensitivity. Evocative, gripping, and
impossible toput down, A Field of Darkness isn't just
a winnerit's a 'Grand Champion.'"
Martha O'Connor, author of The Bitch Posse
"With searing wit and a deft eye for the telling
detail, Cornelia Read lays bare the slithering
underbelly of the upper crust, then turns that same
unsparing gaze at small town mendacity, doing so at a
breathless pace in a first-class thrilleremphasis on
class. A Field of Darkness isn't just a crackling
page-turner, it's a book with heart married to an
encyclopedia of stinging one-liners, replete with
withering descriptions of America adrift and insights
into the addled minds of the clueless rich (and the
malevolent rubes who loathe them). Cornelia Read is a
writer to watch, and A Field of Darkness a book to
savor and share."
David Corbett, author of Done for a Dime
"Madeline Dare, a quirky ex-debutante with an attitude
totes a shotgun and handles a twenty year old crime in
Cornelia Read's unique debut novel, A Field of Darkness. Madeline's engaging, whip smart and someone to walk you in a dark alley...prepare to be hooked!"
Cara Black, author of Murder in Clichy
"All fiction is, to some extent, about shaping reality into patterns, but this book takes that process a step further: big chunks of the plot, and many of the characters, are taken from Read's own life. I've seen plenty of semi-autobiographical chick lit and literary fiction, but never semi-autobiographical mystery. That step brings up a whole new set of ethical questions and dangers. The mystery genre is basically all about the intricacies of morality, and this book adds a whole new layer."
Tana French, The Guardian, "Tana French's Top Ten Maverick Mysteries"