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Valley of Ashes (Madeline Dare #4)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  437 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Madeline Dare trades New York's gritty streets for the tree-lined avenues of Boulder, Colorado when her husband Dean lands a promising job. Madeline, now a full-time homemaker and mother to beautiful toddler twin girls, has achieved everything she thought she always wanted, but with her husband constantly on the road, she's fighting a losing battle against the Betty Frieda ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2012)
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Lian Tanner
I feel as if Read started off writing edgy crime stories with a funny, foul-mouthed heroine who was pretty much unputdownable, and has veered off into personal angst with a large dash of bitterness. It was a shock to discover at the start of this book that Maddy's husband Dean, who has always been such a honey, has turned into a complaining, high-handed creep. Okay, so 18 months have passed since the end of the last book, but there was never any sign of this earlier. It's hard not to see it as a ...more
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Not sure what is happening with Ms. Read these days. I do know she recently went through a divorce and the agony of conflicting emotions one experiences during that process (been there myself) is painfully clear in this novel. In fact, Valley of Ashes is less a mystery and more a raw outpouring of Maddie Dare's personal hell as she struggles to hold it together. The bloom is definitely off the rose as far as her hitherto wonderful husband Dean is concerned. He was a perfect sh*t right out of the ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was my first book of Read's, and apparently I dropped in on a series. I think the book is pretty well self-contained though...while there are references to things happening earlier in Madeline Dare's life, I don't think any of them are essential to this book.

So, why didn't I like this book? There are some great turns of phrase here, and I think I would like Madeline, the protagonist. But it was less of a mystery than "let me show you what a sack of feces my husband is." And, given that Read
Lora Wentzel
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to be Madeleine's friend. I want to help her with the twins, vacuum her floor, call her when I'm pissed at my husband and kick back beer and some soggy cheese nips with her. If you haven't read any of Cornelia Read's books, what are you waiting for? I love Read's voice in her is altogether too real.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fourth book in the Madeline Dare series took me by surprise. I've enjoyed the three previous books. They were funny and dark and really well written. This one is funny, dark, really well written and VERY personal. It's 1995 in Boulder, CO. Madeline is living in a rental house with hideous orange everything. Dean, her husband, is immersed in a job that keeps him either working late or traveling. They now have twin daughters who are about to turn a year old, the house is in a perpetual mess, ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I suspect this was a book she had to write but I shouldn't have read. Not a mystery and not my thing. The first part, with Maddy struggling to keep her 1 year old twins in line and do the housework too, is hilarious. The rest is meh. This is not chick-lit. It's stay-at- home-mom of young children with husband scurrying up the corporate ladder lit. Even with the laughs, it's pretty depressing.
Sarah Strohmeyer
So far, fantastic like all of Cornelia's books. Edgy, real voice. Real characters with baggage. More detailed review to come.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cornelia Read does it again. Madeline Dare has moved to Colorado with her husband after he gets a job with Ionix. She is completely bowed under with caring for twins under a year old and life in Boulder is just way too granola for an East Coast girl like Madeline. She gets a job writing restaurant reviews for a small Boulder newspaper and ends up following around an arson investigator who becomes her friend. Mimi is on the trail of a serial arsonist and Madeline wants to help. She is encouraged ...more
Mar 02, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, ever
This book actually made me angry that I wasted my time on it. It started out well, but the second half completely fell apart. Major plot points raised in the first half were all but dropped in the second half, turning what could have been a good mystery about a series of arsons into a mystery about why those events were even written into the book. Characters were not fleshed out at all so their actions were totally random, and the author TELLS you that people are dear close friends without ever ...more
Jackie Weger
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Spent Labor Day in a hammock at the Lake with my Kindle. I just could not put it down to swim, cook or ride the wave runners. Every mother can relate to Madeline. I especially loved it that Cornelia Read has Madeline saying words and having thoughts I've had about a man who was and still is self-centered, but I have never been clever enough to voice so wonderfully well. She nails it.
Any Length
Jul 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I dind't like this book.
I gave it one star only, because it felt like the author was using this book as a kind of catharsis, to work through her own stuff and it appeared that a lot of her own pain went into the book.
However, from a literary point of view, the book missed the topic entirely.
I started off as a crime novel, which took such second place to mundaine life stuff that it was no longer funny. The end was strange, unexpected, but not pleasantly so.
There was way too much pain in this
Cathy Cole
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First Line: When we first moved to Boulder, I was entirely too happy-- a state of being so rare in my experience that I found it rather terrifying.

Madeline's husband Dean found a job in Boulder, Colorado, and while he spends a lot of his time on the road as a salesman, Madeline is a stay-at-home mother of two toddler twin girls, India and Parrish. Her world couldn't be any more different from the life she knew in New York City.

At first Madeline is ecstatically happy, but as exhaustion wears her
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I'm very fond of Madeline Dare. She's smart, snarky, tough, and downright lovable. In her latest adventure she's moved to Boulder with husband Dean and is sorting through what it means to be a full-time mother to two twin toddlers. When I say "full-time mother" that's exactly what I mean - no working, no money of your own - in many ways blissful yet utterly dependent on the person who earns the money who may or may not deserve you and your efforts.

Valley of Ashes is a great story, but it's also
Gloria Feit
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As I again entered the world of Madeline Dare, I found myself thinking I recognized this woman. Heck, I’ve been this woman! Madeline, an English major and would-be journalist and/or fiction writer, is now at 32 a full-time homemaker, the mother of gorgeous one-year-old twin girls, whose housekeeping skills could use a little work.

Manhattan born and bred, she has done her penance in Syracuse, New York in the early years of her marriage, now trying to get used to life in Colorado where her husband
Mary Chrapliwy
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
Madeline Dare is a snarky, quick-whitted heroine; a personality made real through the skilled writing of Cornelia Read.

Madeline (aka "Bunny" as known by the selfish husband), has just moved to Boulder with her husband and is painfully in need of friends, while she skillfully juggles twins on the cusp of their first birthday. She's a darn-near perfect mother, but Read weaves in a bit of the failed homemaker misery without spoiling the awesome mom image. There are things that lurk beyond Madeline
Lynn G.
Filled with snarky attitude, sarcasm, and the overwhelming use of the "f word" Valley of Ashes was rather a disappointment. Each of the preceding characteristics might work well individually or even in combination (well, maybe not the overuse of the f word) but were not put to good use in this case. Too much of a 'good' thing.

Also taxing my ability to suspend disbelief was the primary character, Madeline's, parenting role. Her children, 1-year-old twins, and their needs, were her main focus, exc
Vikki VanSickle
This was the most difficult of the Madeline Dare books to get through as Madeline and Dean are going through a brutal rough patch in their marriage. The mystery takes a backseat to the emotional turmoil and struggles Madeline is having as a stay-at home mom who is alone much of the time. Their are glimpses at the snarky, very funny, powerhouse Madeline I came to know in love in earlier books, but I spent most of the read aching for her and pissed off at Dean. The experience is akin to watching y ...more
Minerva Koenig
I think there is something unique going on in this book, but a couple of things made it difficult for me to figure out what.

First, the entire book seems to be composed of one-sentence paragraphs. I don't know if this is an editing decision, or if the author intended it that way, but it was very distracting.

Second, the narrative voice is extremely funny -- there are some truly hilarious lines -- but it goes way, way over the top, to the point where it feels almost farcical. Which, I think, woul
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutly loved this book. Madeline Dare is a tough, strong, smart, kickass chick and I wanna be just like her when I go up!! Cornelia Read's writing style is different and unique. I hope there ALOT more books from her in the future!
Jeff Frane
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read took this one in a totally unexpected direction, and a pretty dark one it was. Don't go looking for a mystery novel, or really anything close. This appears to be a deeply personal story, not always with a coherent path. Still, she is a heck of a good writer.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love, love, love the Madeline Dare books. She is the quick witted, sharp tongued tough smart broad we'd all like to be. I was glad that becoming a mom didn't slow her down much but was dismayed that (SPOILER ALERT) Dean turned out to be such a turd.
Randy Briggs
What can I say? I loved this book until I didn't. I gave it three average of four for the beginning and two for the end.
Clay Stafford
For those who have followed the writer/sleuth character Madeline Dare, she’s moved again. From Syracuse, NY (“A Field of Darkness”) to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts (“The Crazy School”) to New York City (“The Invisible Boy”) and now Boulder, Colorado (“Valley of Ashes”), Madeline changes locale, but she can’t stop her inquisitive spirit nor her smart-mouthed sense of humor. This time, it aims to burn her.

“Valley of Ashes” is the story of Madeline’s attempt to capture a serial arsonist
J.A. McLachlan
The story here was pretty good, actually - maybe a four. The cursing was so bad I almost stopped reading it, though - and I mean not just as expletives, but in every single sentence. Read uses swearing as humour, but it does get too excessive. However, that's her style, and I wouldn't downgrade a book on style. No, my problem with this book is the ending, which is, without doubt, the worst ending I have ever read. After creating a character who we watch go from a somewhat lost state (she's exhau ...more
Author: Cornelia Read
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Age Recommended: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Book Blog For: GMTA
Rating: 5


"Valley Of Ashes" by Cornelia Read was a really excellent mystery read. This novel had my attention from the first page and didn't lose any of it until the last word. I really enjoy this fourth book in the Madeline Dare series in that it brought the reader some fun, dark but yet a well written and even a personal read. For these two people...Dean and Madeli
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had high hopes for this story. It had been showcased in Library Journal's prepub alert and I couldn't wait to read it. Or in my case listen to it. Hilary Huber reads it and she does a very credible job. I had a problem with the story or rather the characters. I didn't like them. Any of them. Starting with Madeline. Madeline is the now stay-at-home mother of year old twins. It is exhausting and she is feeling the strain. Her husband is gone constantly. She finally gets a job at the local paper ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: madeline-dare
This is the final book in a series about the main character-Madaline Dare. I wanted to like this book-and for awhile, I actually thought I would. Lots more descriptive language in this one and several unexpected in this one, but it still left so many unanswered questions. And the "mystery" that it alludes to in the blurb is barely even addressed. Then, to top it off-the ending was just depressing.

"Madeline Dare trades New York's gritty streets for the tree-lined avenues of Boulder, Colorado when
Janice Llewellyn
My first book from this author; it came highly recommended so I couldn't wait to start it. I read it non-stop over two days. Enjoyed the witty dialog and the main character's home life situation of raising 1 year old twin daughters, practically on her own. I realized early on, that there were previous books involving the same characters, so I was not completely "in the loop" regarding Maddie and Dean's history. There were references to the past that I knew nothing about. That was my fault, for r ...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)
  • A Field of Darkness (Madeline Dare, #1)
  • The Crazy School (Madeline Dare, #2)
  • Invisible Boy (Madeline Dare, #3)

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“Most days I woke up brimming with a sudden terror--that I'd forgotten to do essential things, that I'd never make friends in Colorado, that my appearance as an adult in the world was only a thin candy shell hiding a tiny, rattling center of incompetent thirteen-year-old, or worse yet, nothing at all.” 4 likes
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