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Available Dark (Cass Neary #2)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  807 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
"Shimmers with gorgeous writing even as it scares the dickens out of you." —Tess Gerritsen
Photographer Cass Neary is already wanted by the police for questioning when she receives a mysterious job offer that sends her to Helsinki, where an iconic fashion photographer shows her a trove of gorgeous photos depicting ritual killings. After narrowly escaping death herself,
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30)
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Caleb Blake
Apr 12, 2014 Caleb Blake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reads
I've been a fan of Elizabeth Hand for many years, so it's hard to present an unbiased view of any of her novels. Having jumped in with that initial disclaimer let me now gush briefly; I loved Available Dark.

When I read Generation Loss in 2012 I ranked it in the top two novels I read that year. I fell in love with the wildly self-destructive Cass Neary, so this sequel was a carefully crafted exercise in delayed gratification, now finally satisfied.

The novel is set in Finland and Iceland and drew
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Available Dark' is book two in the Cassandra Neary noir-mystery series. In some ways, these are typical dark murder mysteries, but they are quite twisted morally. I have never read a series which turns mainstream ethics inside out so much. Not even the Dexter (Darkly Dreaming Dexter) books demonstrate this level of survival-amorality. However, I cannot say they are beyond belief. After all, people actually have done these things. We all know it. The question is, can one write of these true-ish ...more
H. Anne Stoj
Aug 27, 2016 H. Anne Stoj rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I don't know when I became such a fan of Elizabeth Hand. The first book I ever read by her was Glimmering, which sat on my shelf for quite a while. But ever since I read it, I've collected no small number of her work. An amazing wordsmith, it makes her pieces a joy to read. One of the things that I've loved through all her work is the importance of art. Art plays a large role in my own work, so it's not strange for me to make the connection. However, photography is an area I don't know much abou ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
When I finished the first Cass Neary novel, Available Dark, I immediately requested the next one from the library. I love how this one continues the photography element and perhaps that is always the impetus for Cass to travel to a new place. This time around a photography collector wants her to travel to Finland to see if the prints from a photographer are worth purchasing. She discovers that she has unwittingly become a part of a community of photographers who take pictures of the dead or dyin ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it
Cassandra Neary receives a voice message from Investigator Jonathan Wheedler. It is partly due to this voice message that Cassandra accepts an assignment from Anton Bredahl, a guy she just met over email. The other reason being that Anton wants Cassandra to travel to famed photographer Illkka Kaltunnen’s house to assess some art work of his to verify that they are real. Plus, Anton is going to pay Cassandra a lot of money. Cassandra could really use the money and this is a good way to leave town ...more
May 26, 2012 Craig rated it really liked it
This pacing of this crime novel is relentless--it's a true "page turner." But as action-packed as it is, what really stands out is the voice of the narrator. Cass Neary is morbid, burned out speed freak, occasional klepto with a dark sense of humor. Would I like to hang out with her in real life? Nope--she's too amoral and has a mean streak. But her narrative voice is additive, full of witty asides. She's a photographer with a dark-adapted eye and a subcultural autodidact, a chronicler of the wa ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! Unapologetically grim, Available Dark mines the ripe but overlooked black metal culture of the 80s and 90s to great effect. For anyone for who considers Mayhem a (not-so) guilty pleasure this is a must read. The same goes for readers who appreciate a good anti-hero but would love a female one, as Cass Neary is what you've been waiting for. It has a bit of Chuck Palahnuik vibe (think Diary), and is a great follow up to the excellent Generation Loss.

Although I defini
Aug 24, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
Liz Hand describes music in prose as well as anybody I've ever seen. Scandanavian black metal is *not* my thing, but her description of the music -- and the photos -- in this book are a great counterargument for anyone who says you can't dance about architecture.
Geoff Hyatt
Mar 24, 2015 Geoff Hyatt rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Is there any metric less suited to evaluating books than a “star” rating? It’s one I rarely mess with at all, but when I do, I always find myself second-guessing however many little icons I have awarded. In this case, it’s because I find myself giving the same rating to both Available Dark and its predecessor, Generation Loss. Both get four stars—but for different reasons, and readers of one might not be as taken with the other. Because star ratings are meaningless. I shouldn’t even bother. Anyw ...more
May 03, 2012 Sienna rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I like books about people I like. (I recognize the challenge of making readers root for the unlikeable.) I dislike crime novels. And I love Elizabeth Hand's characters, storytelling, language. When Generation Loss introduced the world to has-been Dead Girls photographer Cass Neary a handful of years ago, I listened to the eerie recording Hand had made of the first chapter in Scary Neary's own voice, preordered the book from the estimable Small Beer Press, and promptly put off reading it. For a y ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Angie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, scandinavia, noir
Perhaps one of the best "Scandinavian" mysteries/crime pieces I've read since "The Inspector and Silence" by Hakan Nesser and "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo. (Those may have been the last two I read; or, rather, the last two I could finish. I try to read more of those than ever get reported on this site.)

The only difference this title brings is that it is a true "crime" novel, rather than a "mystery." The protagonist is a photographer with a talent that has almost left her, and a woman desperate for
Catherine Siemann
Mar 02, 2012 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it
Gorgeously written. Spiky, burned-out photographer and punk hold-out Cass Neary is back, and she's a well-drawn character. Hand draws vivid, memorable pictures of Finland and Iceland, especially the latter in the midst of its current economic crisis. (As a New Yorker, I appreciated Cass's growing sense of dissonance with the gentrified Lower East Side, as well.)

The novel's moral ambiguity is fascinating in the genre of mystery/thriller -- some people did Very Bad Things in the past, but moralit
Feb 24, 2016 Joe rated it really liked it
Cass Neary is a very entertaining noir anti-heroine. Her cultural signposts are like kool-aid for those of us that spent anytime in downtown NYC in the late 70s/early 80s, especially if you spent way too much time in record stores like I did. There is some terrific writing in descriptions of the landscape of post-economic collapse Reykjavik and the desolate beauty of Iceland. But Elizabeth Hand does not take herself too seriously. The ancient runic death cult ritual murder stuff is cut through w ...more
Jul 31, 2012 Ellen rated it really liked it
Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand (Minotaur) is the sequel to Generation Loss, and both are excellent, compulsively readable contemporary dark suspense novels about Cassandra Neary, a brilliant photographer who lit up the 70s punk landscape briefly but quickly burned out with liquor and drugs. After escaping home to Manhattan after some real nastiness in Maine (Generation Loss). Neary is offered a great deal of money to fly all expenses paid to Helsinki and authenticate a series of five photograp ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Richard rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this one as much as "Generation Loss", but it was still a very good book. Those three stars look inadequate, but this is what Goodreads has given us, so . . . Hand is a great writer, and Cass, her creation, is vivid, alive, deeply DEEEEPLY flawed, and that's where the squirmy feeling comes in. She's a watcher, a voyeur. You expect her to be a hero, even though you know she's not capable, all she's capable of is survival. The last twenty pages are thrilling and brutal, the very end ...more
Aksel Dadswell
Mar 25, 2015 Aksel Dadswell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sequel that manages to outdo its predecessor in terms of grime and darkness and biting black humour. Also it makes me want to take up photography.
Apr 13, 2016 Jacqie rated it it was amazing
I've read Elizabeth Hand before, and especially loved "Waking the Moon" (that book is 20 years old now, how did that happen?). But I've never read her mystery-thrillers. I decided to pick up this book because of an upcoming trip to Iceland, which is featured. It's the second in a series. I haven't read the first, but had no problem getting into this one.

I'm not sure anyone would want to visit the Iceland of Cass Neary's experience. For that matter, most of her world isn't exactly rainbows and f
Apr 06, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I’ve always said I don’t really like mysteries. Thinking about it recently, I’ve realized this is not true. I don’t like predictable mysteries. A well-plotted mystery, especially when written by a writer I’ve loved for years, will get my attention.

Available Dark is the sequel to Generation Loss, Hand’s excellent novel that introduced photographer, junkie, and aging punk rocker Cassandra Neary. In that first book, Neary was left with a new scar and police wanting to ask her about an unexplained d
Gloria Feit
Jul 05, 2012 Gloria Feit rated it really liked it
This novel isn’t one that defies description, exactly, but it does make it difficult. Its tone is bleak throughout, perhaps in keeping with the geographical landscape, made palpable by the author’s gorgeous writing. The plot is not complex, but that is not the crux of the book, which is the haunting quality of its beautiful prose.

Cass Neary is a photographer with a moribund career, a woman prone to night terrors, who still indulges in her long-time near-addiction to alcohol and drugs of various
Sep 16, 2016 Nicole rated it it was amazing
A tight, literary mystery set in the Nordic countries. Liz Hand is a master at capturing other art (photography, music) though her medium of prose. Her descriptions leave me breathless, and I love how she portrays self-destructive people without moralizing.
Jon Frankel
Oct 16, 2015 Jon Frankel rated it it was amazing
This is the second Cass Neary mystery written by Elizabeth Hand and I think it might be better than the first, Generation Loss. Cass Neary is a washed up, speed snorting, booze guzzling, fifty something artist whose best days are 30 years behind her. She lives in a tenement on the Lower east Side of Manhattan. Through the machinations of an old friend she finds herself on a mission of madness in both books. The first brought her to an island off the coast of Maine. In Available Dark she goes to ...more
May 14, 2015 Gina rated it it was amazing
The second book in the Cass Neary series does not disappoint. Elizabeth Hand's writing grips you, leading down a dark and unexpected trail. Ms. Hand's books contain real people, not always likeable, but as flawed and aching as the rest of us. Mixing music, photography, and sagas, Ms. Hand paints a picture of the darker side of places that tend to be viewed as beautiful. She takes us from the gritty world of New York to Helsinki and Reykjavik. In trying to escape the aftermath of one set of murde ...more
Andy Weston
Apr 07, 2014 Andy Weston rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly refreshing read which breaks down to a crime novel, but it would be very wrong to call it that. It fits the 'noir' genre better due chiefly to the nature of the photography that the chief character involves herself in. Cass photographs the dead herself and collects the work of others.

The authoress manages to make almost everything about the book dark - even the title. Reykjavik has never appeared such a desolate place; certainly not in my visits or in the work of other writers.

Feb 18, 2012 Jason added it
Shelves: abandoned
The curse of the series: the book opens with condensed pockets of information mined more expansively in GenerationLoss. And then I found the new stuff just too much like the last album. I thought GL was great, and this may be a nice intro to her great character Cass Neary, and fans of series may enjoy the return (and may be more forgiving of repetition). I gave up.
Lynn Kearney
Apr 14, 2012 Lynn Kearney rated it it was ok
The author is new to me but if all her books are this dark and gruesome, I think our relationship is doomed.
Aug 20, 2016 Josh rated it it was amazing
Dark and disturbing, beautiful and thrilling and told with great skill.
Nick Fagerlund
Nov 14, 2016 Nick Fagerlund rated it liked it
I read Generation Loss ages ago and liked it a lot, or at least liked most of it a lot. I had no idea there were sequels until rushthatspeaks wrote this glowing endorsement of them.

The thing I snagged on in Generation Loss was... well, it's a spoiler, but Cass does something legitimately unforgivable. Hardboiled detective fic has a solid tradition of dark (even murderous) acts, but this seemed to break some unstated rule of the genre.

These two sequels lean into that break. On the surface level,
Jan 01, 2017 Mantelli rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Another hauntingly creepy book. Cass Neary is growing on me. I can't decide whether the bleak and intense setting, the weird characters, or the persistent frisson of horror is my favorite part, despite the fact that I usually don't like any of those things.
Nov 14, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I found Generation Loss a more subtle, rich, and deeply unsettling novel than Available Dark, but Dark deals with mythology closer to my heart. Cass Neary is my hero, and hero Gotham deserves.
May 23, 2012 Missnike rated it did not like it
A cold, bloodless, soulless description of events does not a story make.

My first 1-star book in a month. Since I have such strong feelings about this book, it’s best to split this review into the aspects of the writing that most stood out:

a) Character differentiation: I think a writer has succeeded with character differentiation when a reader hears a line of dialogue and can immediately imagine which of the characters in the book might have uttered it. A hundred pages into this book, I realized
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A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North Londo ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Cass Neary (3 books)
  • Generation Loss (Cass Neary, #1)
  • Hard Light (Cass Neary, #3)

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“Me, I drink to remember. If the right music’s playing, if it’s dark enough and I’m loaded, I can sometimes catch a flicker of that 3:00 A.M. feeling I used to live for.” 0 likes
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