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A Field of Darkness (Madeline Dare #1)

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,363 Ratings  ·  239 Reviews
Madeline Dare would be the first to tell you her money is so old there's none left. A former socialite from an aristocratic family in decline, Maddie is a tough-talking, would-be journalist exiled to the rust belt of upstate New York. Her prospects for changing her dreary lifestyle seem dim--until a set of dog tags found at a decades-old murder site is linked to her family ...more
ebook, 312 pages
Published July 11th 2007 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 1st 2006)
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Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
Feb 27, 2016 Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" by: 2007 Gumshoe Award nominee for Best First Novel; 2007 Edgar Awar
A very serious and atmospheric mystery. Set in white trash Syracuse and snooty Berkshires, it follows a poor, down-on-her-luck ex-debutante whose family has lost all its money but not its sense of superiority.

I really enjoyed the lead character Maddie and her family and friends. The mystery was good too. But really, the major strength of this book is its characters.

Can't wait to read more.
"Voice" seems to be the quality that writers most strive for these days, to the point of going way over the top. Cornelia Read's amateur detective Madeline Dare is exhibit A in this regard -- her first-person voice in "Field of Darkness" is sometimes clever and even lyrical, but this constant straining for a bon-mot or scintillating simile is ultimately irritating and exhausting for the reader, at least this one. Instead of being carried away by the flow, I was constantly stopping to either adm ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Mo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not recommended
The setting for this story is in my neck of the woods, Upstate New York. It quickly becomes obvious that the author considers the entire area to be nothing more than a hell hole. The less I liked the book, the more my anger grew over the constant bashing of Syracuse NY, and the people who live there.

Here are just a couple quotes:

“The summer of 1988 finds her in the rust belt of upstate New York, pining for her often-absent, farmboy-genius-inventor husband and desperate to escape dreary Syracuse
Bridgette Redman
Feb 01, 2012 Bridgette Redman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for an easy summer read, Cornelia Read’s debut novel, A Field of Darkness is NOT the book for you.

If, however, you’re interested in a thriller with substance, a dark yet compelling story that is intelligent and intense, then this may be the novel for you. It’s by no means an easy read, but it is smart and even its harshness enriches the themes found within its pages.

A Field of Darkness is a mystery thriller set in 1988 written in what the author calls WASP noir. The protagoni
Mar 30, 2011 Tracy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I raced to the end so I wouldn't have to hear any more of the shallow, disdainful narrator or of the author's utter contempt for Syracuse.
May 20, 2012 MB rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have so much bias about this book it isn't even funny. But that doesn't stop it from being well written and gripping.

First, it's set in Syracuse, NY. Not quite my home town, but close enough. And this book made me see Syracuse through very different eyes. That Madeline Dare both hates and it doesn't want to leave it--yes, I get that, in spades.

Second is the main character herself. She reads like a LOT of girls I knew in my very preppy college, only grown up and married and "trapped" somewhere
Feb 10, 2010 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book (thank you Seattle Mystery Bookshop for the recommendation!). This is the debut by Cornelia Read and you can be sure that I will be reading more from this author. Her phrasing strikes a cord with me -- so much that I actually wrote down phrases as I read. Here are some of my favorites:

"Nothing undercuts a good flu story like the sound of an eighteen-wheeler downshifing in the rain."

"I was wallowing in the mood pool's deep end."

"The wipers left a widow's peak on my windshield."

Jamie Stanley
Jul 22, 2012 Jamie Stanley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, creepy
In the beginning, I thought that I would hate this book. I almost stopped reading it. I decided to get to at least page 100. I'm today I did. It for much better. The main character is intelligent and funny, emilee her best friends is probably the main character. Ether is a murder that hat taken place many years before and it was never solved. New clues turn up...and the killer enjoys creating scenes from fairytales with the dead bodies. I liked this book so much that I ended up reading it in one ...more
Interesting book but not I think worth all its praise. Ms. Read is an excellent writer. I am interested to see what she writes next. However for me this novel suffers from an excess of odd choices that greatly detract from the story. The underlying plot of Field of Darkness is great--a killer who takes his inspiration from fairy tales. It could have been accomplished in a much simpler narrative. I kept getting thrown by Ms. Read's character choices. To many characters felt like they were pulled ...more
I suppose it is worth buying because her style is so readable - she could make a shopping list entertaining. So from that angle, it's enjoyable - but the plot is as thin and predictable as Murder She Wrote - so much so I did wonder whether or not it was actually trying to be ironic. That said, the dialogue is great, it moves at a good pace, and the characterisation is witty and memorable.
Feb 03, 2008 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A debut mystery from a writer I will now be following. This was not perfect - the killer was easy to spot, early on and some of the characters were a bit two-dimensional - but I love the style and the main character's voice. Some of the phrases were just perfect, like the description of super rich, thin, tan Aunt Binty as a piece of "blonde beef jerky." "Bitch needs to eat a cheeseburger."
I take two stars to mean Goodread's "it was okay" rating literally, and that was all I could say about this book. Some of the expose of the class relations in America is spot on and authentic, but I just couldn't like this book. I found the writing very busy and distracting, and some of the scenes dragged out and pointless. i.e., just needed more editing.
Loved the ferris wheel on the cover, and I was so happy to see author Ken Bruen's praise on the back cover. He's a huge favorite (gritty Irish mysteries) of mine.

To be honest, I didn't get into this book :-( That's always so hard to say when a good friend recommends it.

I did notice the spare writing style, similar to Bruen's which I enjoyed.
Jan 09, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Mostly, this is an well-written, engaging mystery. The premise was compelling and continued to be so throughout the story, and Read's sly observations on wealth, poverty, and those who form the odd group which simultaneously experiences both at once, are bang-on.

There were some flaws in the narrative that began to unravel in the end, but mostly, Read does a good job of keeping you guessing and keeping you interested as the story unfolds. I think the book would have been better had Re
Apr 18, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to sort of slog my way into this one, the writing took a little acclimating to, but I'm glad I did. Where it lacks slightly in character it makes up in story. It managed to be fun and creepy at the same time, a hard combination to pull off.
Dec 21, 2007 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very readable literary fiction type mystery, about a young woman whose family has old New York money (none of which she has), who lives in Syracuse and gets caught up in trying to solve a nearly 20 year old murder case. A-.
Feb 01, 2008 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, library
I enjoyed this book. The first 50 or so pages were great - really fun writing. The middle got a bit sloggy with her family, and I got tired of hearing how much she loved Dean. But there was much to like and I'd read her next.
Jul 25, 2014 Maddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
PROTAGONIST: Madeline Dare
SERIES: #1 of 4
WHY: Madeline Dare works for a local paper doing frou-frou fluff pieces. When she learns that her favorite cousin's dog tags were found at the scene of a murder from many years earlier, she feels compelled to prove his innocence. I loved the humor that was skillfully interwoven into the book, and the interactions between the characters felt completely real. It was unfortunate that Madeline, under the guise of journalist, took on the rol
Feb 02, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, vietnam-war
Well deserving of its Edgar nomination - the finely crafted conversational tone and true-to-life characters set it apart.
East Lansing Public Library
Mystery Book Discussion Group

Tuesday, Feburary 12, 7 p.m.
Gwen the Librarian
A totally creepy and satisfying murder mystery. I especially liked the fairy tale elements.
Feb 12, 2008 Christi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-reads
I did enjoy this story though it took a third of the book to really get into it.
Aug 17, 2007 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AWESOME! super sharp wit and hilarious. Plus the great fun of a murder mystery.
Nov 26, 2007 KJP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good murder mystery--cold case catching up with the present.
Mar 24, 2015 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just didn't do much for me. Another of these crime mysteries. Dialogue just seemed a little overdone. I listened to much of it and didn't really like the reader's voice either. I knew almost from the time the bad guy was introduced that he was the bad guy but didn't know all the whys so I stuck it out to the end.
There was one odd thing near the end that I got a kick out of; you would have to read the book to understand, but the author steps into the book so that she is in it as the author and a
Remember, one man's bookflap summary is another man's poison.

I'd give this book a 3.5 if the Goodread system allowed it.

A stifled young journalist, returned to her rural upstate NY birthplace, embarks on solving a long-ago murder after in-laws gives her physical evidence that suggests one of her relatives was involved.

Madeline Dare, the protagonist, shows ingenuity as she plumbs old witnesses, the news and photo files of the community newspaper where she works, and people who were police officer
Sep 10, 2015 Sabine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amerika Ende der 80er Jahre: Madeline Dare entstammt aus einer alteingesessenen Familie, allerdings ist der Zweig ihrer Vorfahren eher der, über den ihre Verwandten die Nase rümpfen. Sie selbst hat in die arbeitende Bevölkerung eingeheiratet und ist im ländlichen Syracus gelandet, wo die Familie ihres Mannes eine Farm besitzt und sie selbst bei der lokalen Zeitung über banale Dinge wie Cocktails oder Essen schreibt. Eines Tages erfährt sie von einem Mordfall an zwei jungen Mädchen, der 20 Jahre ...more
Susan (the other Susan)
I was tempted to label this as romantic suspense, but Cornelia Read would probably slap me and so might you. The developing couple-relationship isn't really the core of the book or the series, but the romance that's there is believable, effective, and begs for an HEA. I'm not saying there is an HEA, mind you. Just that you're going to want one.

This is the first of a series featuring one of the most original female characters I've come across in a while: snarky, trash-mouthed debutante Madeline
Apr 19, 2011 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one-off (not a series) by Cornelia Read reads like a Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie. Snappy dialog, highly original descriptions that in only a few words places a precise image in the reader's mind. Many of the lines made me laugh out loud, although this is not a humorous book, per se. For example, as a lover of P.J. Wodehouse, I loved this succinct description of a conversation with her mother: "Mealtime conversation here was like watching Fellini and Wodehouse drop acid." The heroi ...more
Nov 01, 2011 Sally906 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Madeline (Maddie) Dare is a journalist for a local New York State paper and she gets involved in an unsolved murder murder that occurred in the area a decade previously. Two girls were found in cornfield with their throats cut and each wearing a crown made of roses. There had been a State Fair being held at the time, and the girls had been seen with soldiers during the evening, but no identification had ever been made. Maddie’s father-in-law mentions the crime and the fact that he had found a se ...more
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I have circumnavigated the globe, throwing up in many of the world's airports as I hate to fly. I was born in Manhattan, and spent my childhood racketing around from New York to California to Oahu.

I know old-school WASP culture firsthand, having been born into the tenth (and last) generation of my mother's family to live on Oyster Bay's Centre Island. I was subsequently raised near Big Sur by divo
More about Cornelia Read...

Other Books in the Series

Madeline Dare (4 books)
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