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The Dark Before Dawn

(Gabriel McRay #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  52 reviews
High in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, grisly murders are taking place. On each of the victim's bodies a note is left for L.A. Sheriff's detective, Gabriel McRay. The killer's identity is locked in the suppressed memory of a horrifying trauma from Gabriel's own childhood. Teamed with his forensic pathologist girlfriend and his pyschiatrist, Gabriel runs two p ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published June 24th 2011 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Laurie Stevens
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Here's the review of The Dark Before Dawn by Kirkus Review

The Dark Before Dawn was named to Kirkus Review's Best of 2011 and also received the Kirkus Star.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who enjoy murder/mysteries
This was an excellent mystery/thriller, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gabriel McRay, an L.A. Detective with an anger management issue, is drawn into a murder investigation that hits close to home - close to memories he has so far successfully repressed.

As he delves into his past with the help of a therapist, and discovers horrific trauma he has no conscious recollection of, the murders continue and it becomes clear that the killer has fixation with the detective who's trying to catch him - one t
Kathryn Magallanes
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you like a great murder mystery, then this book is a perfect read. The author combines all of the elements to create a story that is suspenseful and chilling. The main character, Gabriel, has to overcome many demons - not only the sick and twisted criminals that is his duty to catch but fight his own demons that surface from his past. I cannot wait to read the second book to see what the future has in store for Gabriel. The book is captivating and I had a hard time putting the book down - my ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it

Gabriel McRay is a good cop, but when you have anger issues sometimes that is not enough to keep you on the job. After several incidents had been made public in the local newspaper, McRay had to seek the assistance of a psychologist and even then his superiors where ready to suspend him, until the serial killer they were tracking suddenly linked the reasons for the murders to an alleged past history between McRay and himself.
Like it or not, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is suddenly
Jody Hepps
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Dark Before Dawn is the first in a new series by Lauries Stevens. The main character is a detective who can't seem to get a break. This ia a great thriller with descriptive sensory detail, and I couldn't put it down. There are characters you love to hate and a storyline that is full of surprises. I can't wait for the second book to come out. I found it on but have heard it is in book stores and libraries. ...more
Mickley Gantman
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of murder mysteries
Recommended to Mickley by: a friend
The was a really enjoyable read and went by way too fast. I read it in 3 days because I couldn't put it down! A true page-turner with a lot of heart and soul. I loved the use of psychology and the romance between Gabriel and Ming. ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-noir
Pretty good mix of psychology and forensics. Turned into a real page turner about halfway through the book. I'll be looking for the next installment. ...more
Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)
5 1/2 stars

Did I enjoy this book: I loved it. I couldn’t put it down!

The Dark Before Dawn is a complex, engaging murder mystery. It is written in a classic 3rd person style throughout. I like that Laurie Stevens avoids some of the trends of many contemporary authors where each chapter speaks from a different character’s point of view (think – Jodi Picoult style).

I also like that she didn’t follow the trend of murder mysteries being so over the top sexually perverse and gruesome that it gives you
Marni Tagami
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a hero with angst plus brilliance.
Recommended to Marni by: Browsing
Have just downloaded the free sample for my Nook and will start reading it.

I love a novel that combines psychology and crime, an unbeatable combination. This novel fascinated me and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The murderer was very frightening, and the mystery of his connection to Ray kept my curiosity piqued all the way to the reveal. I loved the way the author gradually led Ray and thus the reader along the pathway of his past step by step. I found him to be a vulnerable, sensitive charac
Sheila Myers
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suspense
The Dark Before Dawn is a fast-paced, exciting psychological thriller. Laurie Stevens does a masterful job of developing both the characters and the plot. The twists and turns which focus on the present as well as the past, weave a very interesting story in which the main character must battle his own demons from the past while trying to solve a series of brutal murders. As a new writer, I believe Ms. Stevens has written a novel which is even more thrilling than those of most of the more well-kn ...more
Mar 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Wow, this book has received several raving reviews!! I certainly commend L. Stevens on several unique uses of imagery and wit.
I would have certainly given it a higher rating if only based on her talent and skill as an author!
However, while I completely understand the design of the plot I felt Det. G. McRay's personal problems overshadowed her creation of a unique killer living in a delusional macbre world of psychosis. It also made for a rather predictable storyline.
BUT... it IS a good mystery
Lee Erb
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book begins with us the reader behind the eyes of the vicious and twisted Malibu Canyon killer luring a victim to his demise. We are then transported to a session between Dr. B and Detective Gabriel McRay, discovering that Gabe has been having some trouble lately controlling his temper. When the killer strikes next, he leaves a note for Gabe, causing his less than amused lieutenant to put him back on duty to assist with the case.

I really enjoyed this book switching between the murderer and
Craig Buck
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This debut is a great read, self-assured, well plotted, but most of all populated by complex, well-drawn, understandably flawed characters. If there is a weakness here, it is in Laurie Stevens's tyro mistake of giving us too much psychological explanation. Some of the Adlerian psychology would have been better left to subtext, but Stevens is skillful enough to avoid outright exposition, handling the academics through the vehicle of the protagonist detective's therapy sessions (for excessive viol ...more
Mary Hamer
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this truly gripping as I read into it. Disturbing in its implications --don't want to give the plot away!--and a good sense of threat, plus psychologically intriguing. But I had to admit I got irritated by the way the plot began to twist and turn, gratuitously in the lst quarter of te book. All the features I'd valued it for , the insights, the tension, seemed to be cast aside by the author in a mad rush for ever-heightened excitement. i stopped being able to invest in the story. Disappo ...more
Will Decker
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy damaged cops working through their problems, bright beautiful women that fall in love with damaged cops, serial killers that target damaged cops, and a boss suffering from "Little People Syndrome" (inferiority complex) that constantly picks on the damaged cop, this is the story for you. Although there is lots of violence, murder, and sexual tension, there is little in the way of graphic descriptors to get your blood hot. Editing was not very clean, but all in all, I enjoyed this sto ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook-books
Excellent police procedural/mystery story. It was a bit graphic in spots for my liking, but well-written. The characters were interesting and believable. This was a very fast read for me which means I kept picking it up every chance I got. I read this as part of a group read for the Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group June/July read. Very glad I did. I believe that this is the author's first of a series. I will look for the follow up to this book. ...more
Kathryn Moore
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
A cop with a history of violence is in trouble for his behavior and possibly on the way out. But they need his skills to solve a series of murders. Only the murderer seems to know him, and leaves him notes with each body.
Very deep story and unsettling subject matter as he finds out that he has blocked out the fact that he was abused as a child.
Don't like those kinds of stories usually, but this one was done well.
Stephen Buehler
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
Laurie Stevens does a great job of providing a thriller of a book. Detective Gabriel McRay is a complicated character whose layers of complications are pealed away throughout the book. I've always like serial killer books and Ms. Stevens' villain doesn't disappoint. He's crafty and unpredictable leaving you guessing until the end. If you like any of what I've just written you'll like The Dark Before the Dawn by Laurie Stevens. ...more
G Hodges
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always forget to add Kindle books to my reading list. I actually started reading this last week and finished it today. Very well written, well developed and plotted. The main character device was chilling, especially with his unfolding awareness of his childhood. Something tweaks at me which keeps me from giving it 5 stars. I have to figure out what it is.
Barbara Topper
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of this genre and this is one of most unpredictable and exciting reads I've had in a long time. The characters were mesmerizing and the research was incredible.
I'd love to see more from this author.
Coby Kibrick
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was totally bowled over by the images this author evokes. Skilled, taut writing -- and from a new author who is also a playwright. This is someone to watch very carefully. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a good police procedural relating efforts made to locate and stop a serial killer. The crime scenes were too graphic. I did learn a bit more about symptoms of 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder', fugue states, and chakras. ...more
Connie Jones
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough good things about this thriller. It's a total page turner, well-crafted, with a unique detective and lots of twists and turns. One of the best and most exciting thrillers I've read in a long time. ...more
Carole Marsh
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any lover of suspense or mystery
Recommended to Carole by: I saw an online interview
I've read a lot of mysteries and thrillers and this one is at the top of my list. Let me put it to you this way - I'm hooked and can't wait for the second one! ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the twists and turns of this book.
Cynthia Miller
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just read this page turner, a must read thriller!!

A. Dinsmore
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This was a great read. I was left feeling totally disturbed and creeped out... something I've been waiting for a book to do for me! ...more
Kelly Riker
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although I guessed most of the plot, the book is still a good mystery/thriller. I liked the cast of characters. Being from the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley area, I loved the locale as well.
Dottie Farmer
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Two mysteries that you know are connected but how? I liked the writing, it kept me up one night because I couldn't put it down! ...more
Rachel Mickelson
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Not only did I enjoy the mystery itself, but watching Gabriel struggle with his own troubled memories was captivating enough. Highly recommend!
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what makes a murderer? 1 8 Oct 06, 2011 11:25AM  

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Laurie Stevens is the author of the Gabriel McRay thriller series. The books have won twelve awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 and a Random House Editors’ Book of the Month. International Thriller Writers claims she's "cracked the code" in regards to writing psychological suspense. Laurie co-edited the 2019 Sisters in Crime anthology Fatally Haunted, and her short stories have appeare ...more

Other books in the series

Gabriel McRay (4 books)
  • Deep into Dusk (Gabriel McRay, #2)
  • The Mask of Midnight: A Gabriel McRay Novel
  • In Twilight's Hush (Gabriel McRay #4)

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