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When the Stars Go Dark

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  293 reviews
A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When overwhelming tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village
Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: April 13th 2021 by Ballantine Books
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  • When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
    When the Stars Go Dark

    Release date: Apr 13, 2021
    Enter for a chance to win an early finished copy of WHEN THE STARS GO DARK — the propulsive new novel from bestselling author Paula McLain.

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    Giveaway dates: Mar 01 - Mar 31, 2021

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    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.09  · 
    Rating details
     ·  410 ratings  ·  293 reviews

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    Nilufer Ozmekik
    Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I haven’t read so lyrical words written in full of intensity in such a powerful, moving, thought provoking tone! I literally find myself trapped inside the mind of heroine and I didn’t want to leave there even it hurt me a lot!

    Inner poet of Ms. McLane created a tormented but a decent fighter, remarkable heroine: Anna Hart who is specialized to find missing people, dedicated San Francisco detective. After tragedy hit harder, for gathering the shattering life pieces,she decides to go to back to s
    Elyse  Walters
    No Spoilers!!!

    Paula McLain fans will recognize her luscious writing’s gorgeous.
    Her descriptions are irresistible, and photogenically tantalizing.

    Unlike Paula’s past work:
    —Historical Fiction—
    She brings us a heartfelt mysterious crime novel...mixed with fiction stories of missing girls - placing the time period alongside the true crime story of Polly Hannah Klass.

    Anna Hart, protagonist, had my heart. We don’t understand her full story right away — other than we know her husband asked he
    Paula McLain draws the spotlight upon her main character, Detective Anna Hart. Wife, mother, and friend.

    But when those stars do go dark for her, Anna realizes that she has truly lost her way. With no other recourse, she leaves San Francisco unwillingly to seek solace in the one place that reflects tiny roots from her past.

    Anna has driven hours to arrive in Mendocino in Northern California. Her eyes shift from the new to the old familiar. She rents a cabin in the woods that boasts little in the
    Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
    This is a story that clutches at your heart and won’t let go. I knew from the start this one was going to be painful, and it was. So painful to watch Anna Hart, a San Francisco missing persons detective, try to come to grip with the recent tragedy in her life while reconciling the traumas of her early life. She has fled to Mendocino, the only place she ever felt safe and at home to lick her wounds. Once there, she is thrown into the case of another missing local teen. She is compelled to help he ...more
    Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Review to come nearer to publication
    Rene Denfeld
    Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    This isn't just a brilliant, well-plotted book, it is a very brave one too. McLain unflinchingly examines some tough issues, and treats victims with tenderness and decency. It's a novel that feels intensely personal as well as universal. Highly recommend. ...more
    Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Having read and enjoyed Paula McLain's Circling the sun, I was glad to get a chance to read this new work. This one is a heartbreaker though. Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. She had a horrible tragedy in her life which has caused issues between Anna and her husband Brendan. Anna flees to her adoptive parents hometown of Mendocino to try to get her life together. But once there she gets drawn into a case of a missing 15 year old girl with an old friend from childhood, W ...more
    Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2020-net-galley

    This is a challenging review for me to write because I loved Paula McLean's first two historical novels. The first one called, "The Paris Wife," which honors Ernest Hemingway's first wife and perhaps his greatest love. The two even though they eventually divorced because he was incredibly unfaithful too while married, evidently they always kept in touch throughout his life. The second one that I read because I loved the first one so much and served as an intr
    Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: thrillers
    4.5 stars rounded up. This one is more of an upmarket light suspense, but damn if it wasn't a beautiful book in places. The prose was *chef's kiss*. When I got to the end and saw the author has also published poetry I was like yep. This is one where you sink into the setting/atmosphere and the deep character studies and roll with it, less than a who-dun-it guessing game. I read it slowly over the course of a month (on and off) and no regerts. Sinking back into it each time was like a warm bath a ...more
    Literary Redhead
    Such a different focus for this beloved historical fiction writer (The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun)! McLain applies her elegant descriptive style to an absorbing mystery involving an emotionally wounded detective, a missing child case, and trauma stirred up by the past. Heartbreaking and redemptive, especially as McLain reveals in her Author’s Note why she felt called to write it. Perfect for a book club discussion and Skype call with the author!

    5 of 5 Stars

    Pub Date 13 Apr 2021

    Thanks to the au
    Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    This is a novel about missing persons detective Anna Hart fleeing back to her home town of Mendocino in an effort to escape her own personal angst and tragedy. Ironically upon her return the town is reeling with it’s own case of a missing teenager. Anna is quickly thrown into the mix as the Mendocino detective working the case is her childhood friend. Thus the story begins with past and present scenarios intertwined in this suspenseful saga.

    Bits and pieces of Anna’s past are revealed sporadicall
    Dec 19, 2020 rated it liked it
    This is a slow moving mystery and a mystery that has very little actual physical clues, but instead uses the experience and gut of the main character. So, not a police procedural or a thriller by any means. More, I would say, a thoughtful and contemplative look at abused and missing children, told through the narrative of a detective main character and a current missing person case. After reading the author notes it was clear this was a book rooted in deeply personal experience and that definite ...more
    Laurie Murphy
    Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2021-books, arc
    I don't remember why I requested an Advance Reader's Copy of this book, but I'm glad I did. The subject matter, missing and abused children, is dark but the story is so compellingly told that I found myself involved to the point of obsession with the characters in the book. The author also includes real missing person cases (remember Polly Klaas?) and interweaves them effectively into the plot.

    Anna, a specialist in finding missing persons, is trying to recover from the accidental death of her ch
    Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Ok, here we go, a long and proper book deserves a long proper review and mine is the first of that kind here, which is always a pleasure and often a privilege. To boldly go…
    Just when you thought Paula McLain has finally quit plundering historical figures for her reimaginings and wrote a proper mystery thriller…you go and realize that no, she’s still at it, it’s just toned down. Which is to say this abuse centric kidnapping/murder/serial killer thriller does feature a famous/infamous Polly Klaas
    Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    4.5* This book takes place in 1993 Mendocino, CA before cell phones and internet. It is told by Missing Persons Detective Anna Hart and opens with a scene of her child’s death with no details about what happened. The facts of her loss and her past are revealed in snippets. Fleeing her husband and job, Anna returns to her hometown where she almost immediately becomes immersed in assisting the local sheriff, a childhood friend, with a missing teenager investigation. The real-life Polly Klaas kidna ...more
    Paula McClain with her new book, has completely blown me away.

    I have read three other books by McLain, all of which were about historical celebrities - traditional historical fiction.

    In this book, McLain has created a cross-genre book: a little bit of historical fiction and a lot of thriller!!

    Highlights of the book:
    - I really got into the mind of the heroine, Anna Hart. She is troubled by the events of her life. She is a detective who is so married to her job, that nothing else seems to matter.
    Liz Barnsley
    Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I absolutely adored the writing in this novel, an edgy, literary vibe with noir undertones that really immersed me immediately into this story. That added to the beautifully engaging main protagonist made this a fantastic read.

    The setting really pops, a small town and a lot of secrets that start to emerge during the urgent hunt for a missing girl. The real life case of Polly Klaas gives the historical context and this is a real page turner, unpredictable and plotted to perfection.

    Theres a lot o
    Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    This was the story of a search for a missing girl, but so much more.
    The reader knows from the prologue that the protagonist has suffered some recent tragedy, but not what it was. At first that bothered me, but as I got into the story (which hooked me right away) I was less concerned with it. Well written and with a lot of suspense added for good measure.
    I did guess who the villain was partway through the book, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment.
    One minor error did bother me: The story takes pla
    Claire Fullerton
    Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I absolutely loved it and my full review will appear in the New York Journal of Books on release day. Here is the opening paragraph: .

    A haunting, intelligent novel for the discerning reader, Paula McClain’s, When the Stars Go Dark thrills you into engaging with the riveting story lest you miss the tenor of its well-wrought beats. This is a thinking man’s page-turner; a riveting crime-detective story experienced through the wounded soul of narrator Anna whose life-path comes full-circle even as
    Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
    I was drawn to this book because I'd heard about it from other book reviewers, so I decided to give it a go. It was my first book I've reviewed from Net Galley.

    I've ultimately decided to rate it three stars, and I have several reasons.

    First, I want to say that the book is very, very well written. The author is clearly quite talented. Her prose and ability with the written word is amazing. Some of the language in the book was stunning. The descriptions so vivid. This is also my first read by th
    Annissa Joy Armstrong
    Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Anna is a detective who works on missing persons cases and is a bit obsessed about her work. After tragedy strikes at home, Anna decides to return to Mendocino where she used to live with her foster parents.

    Anna at this point is broken and battered. She needs time to heal and recover but she decides to help with the missing person case of a girl named Cameron. The police chief is her childhood friend, Will.

    This book takes you on a great ride in the journey to find Cameron who is assumed to be ki
    Taylor Noel
    Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I've loved bestselling author Paula McLain’s rich historical novels. But I think I love her new novel—a propulsive, deeply affecting literary thriller— even more! Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, WHEN THE STARS GO DARK tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Louise Penny!

    Laurie Murphy
    Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I don't remember why I requested an Advance Reader's Copy of this book, but I'm glad I did. The subject matter, missing and abused children, is dark but the story is so compellingly told that I found myself involved to the point of obsession with the characters in the book. The author also includes real missing person cases (remember Polly Klaas?) and interweaves them effectively into the plot.

    Anna, a specialist in finding missing persons, is trying to recover from the accidental death of her ch
    Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    4.5 stars! Thank you Netgalley and Random House for the ARC. Paula McLain hits it out of the park again, but this time with a true crime focus. Detective Anna Hart returns to her hometown and discovers a fifteen year old has gone missing. This is isn't her first time on a missing person's case, in fact she spends her whole life obsessing over the victims she fights for. McLain writes with such a lushness that you feel like you're standing next to her in the dripping Mendocino nature reserves. He ...more
    Mary McBride
    Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Paula McLain has taken a detour from her historical fiction.
    She has tackled the very relevant and dark issue of missing children and murder. Pulling from her own experience in foster care and being a victim of sexual abuse, she brings attention to a subject that is horrific.
    I wasn't sure she would make it work, but she did. Glad I read it-
    Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    When the Stars Go Dark has a dreamy title but a nightmare of a plot. Over 600,000 people go missing in the US each year-of these more than two thirds are children-but only a handful get national media attention or their photo on a milk carton. When the Stars Go Dark mixes true crime (the kidnapping and murder of Polly Klass-taken from her bedroom during a slumber party with two friends) and fictionalized accounts of similar missing person cases in Northern California near Polly's home. Paula McL ...more
    Elizabeth Giordano
    Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I really enjoyed reading this book. I previously read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and this novel was quite different. I was unsure how I was going to feel about the book when I started it; the prologue felt off to me and I was trying to figure out what tragedy forced Anna Hart to leave home and return to a place from her past. The way the author writes the setting/scenery transported me to the woods of California. It felt like I was there alongside the characters. I liked how the novel was se ...more
    Caroline Bertaud
    Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    This book is stunning. It feels like it’s really been written by a detective specialized in missing children, by someone who’d been a fostered kid herself, someone who’s lived and witnessed tragedies firsthand—I almost ache for McLain, thinking about the mountains of research she must have gone through. At some point, the main character, Anna, says, “I wasn’t just involved in my cases, I lived and breathed them,” and it’s exactly how I felt about this book. It breathes on its own, as do Anna and ...more
    Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    In 1993, Anna Hart is a Missing Persons Investigator with the San Francisco Police Department. She and her husband are having marital problems and he has asked her to move out. She returns to the small town where she lived with her last set of foster parents to recover from job related PTSD and the separation. Shortly after her arrival, the town Sheriff, a friend from high school, enlists her help in searching for a missing 15 year old girl who is the adopted child of celebrities. Anna allows he ...more
    Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
    Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for the Advanced Reading Copy of this novel.
    Trigger Warning for this novel : Rape, Sexual Abuse, Neglect
    Reading this novel was like watching law and order SVU in a book format. The novel has some life flashbacks in Anna's life and her life now. Three girls are missing and how Anna's life intermingles with these girls make the crux of the story.
    Its a very slow novel which kind of makes it hard to read. A little fast pace would have been nice.
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    Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times and internationally bestselling novels, The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun and Love and Ruin. Now she introduces When the Stars Go Dark (April 13, 2021), an atmospheric novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and is also the author of two collections of poetry, ...more

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