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A Darker Place

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,298 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
A respected university professor, Anne Waverly has a past known to few: Years ago, her own unwitting act cost Anne her husband and daughter. Fewer still know that this history and her academic specialty--alternative religious movements--have made her a brilliant FBI operative. Four times she has infiltrated suspect communities, escaping her own memories of loss and carnage ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Bantam (first published 1998)
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Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I love Laurie King's Holmes/Russell series, especially where Mary gets to use her theological training. So I was hoping this book, whose main character is a professor of comparative religion who occasionally investigates fringe religious groups for the FBI, would be equally good. I still love the premise and think it has a lot of potential, but alas, the novel fell flat for me, mostly for two reason.

The first is that the book reads like the third or fourth in a series. What happened to Anne in h
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Laurie King has a Master's Degree in theology from Union Theological Seminary; religion has been a life-long interest, not to say passion. The subject shows up in a number of her works, mainly the Mary Russell series, and in this, a stand-alone novel, although it makes an appearance in the Kate Martinelli series as well.[return][return]The protagonist of A Darker Place is Anne Waverley, a middle-aged professor in an Oregon university. Anne's specialty--alternative religious movements--has involv ...more
Oct 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
By the end of this stand-alone story I was so thoroughly disgruntled that I'd spent several hours of my life reading about characters unlikeable and un-engaging, that I tore the book in half and used it to level a tilting appliance in order for the door to swing open unimpeded.

This from a book-lover no less. I wanted to feel guilty: it was a very satisfying tear.

Although I enjoy Laurie King's other two mystery series (Russell/Holmes & Kate Martinelli), this dreary little book didn't ring my
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and engrossing thus far.

ADDENDUM: Marvelous; I especially love the snippets provided from Wakely's case notes and lectures which precede each chapter. Though I suspect I will never love or dissolve as easily into any book of hers as I did The Beekeeper's Apprentice (which world I found myself physically aching for after having finished it), I liked this quite a lot. Perhaps the only reason I haven't given it a full five stars is because the central working behind Change is one that d
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bridgette Redman
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Rarely have I read an author with the literary courage and skill of Laurie King. It’s easy to be reactionary when dealing with a controversial topic. It’s easy to be formulaic when writing in the mystery or thriller genre. She does neither. Instead, King tackles a polarizing topic with incredible sensitivity and creativity in a way that shatters stereotypes.

What A Darker Place is

A Darker Place is a book of journeys. It is the journey of Anne Waverly as an undercover agent entering a religious co
Apr 05, 2014 rated it liked it
A Darker Place is the story of Anne Waverly, a college professor who goes undercover for the FBI to evaluate religious cults. I was fascinated for the first half of the book, not only by the unusual characters and their finely detailed development, but also by the in-depth information about cults and how they are evaluated by the government (much of it delivered in headnotes to each chapter).

But as the book progressed, it became less about these topics and more about the superficial resolution
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I had to wait a few weeks to write my review, I just could not rehash this book so soon after reading it, it was that disturbing for me. This was a powerful book grappling with the forces of good and evil within the context of religious community. Laurie King is a master of character development and I have never felt more empathy for her characters than I did in this book. The story develops as a sort of train wreck. You know something terribly bad is going to happen but you are praying it doesn ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is the novel I started to read after reading the Mary Russell series.(Which I loved) YIKES! This will be on my would-not-recommend-to-anyone list. I coudn't get very far into the book before it became disgustingly, sexually graphic. BIG ick! Wouldn't recommend any of Laurie's other books if they are like this.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The first two-thirds of A Darker Place is an exciting, fast-paced whirlwind with plenty of suspense. Anne Waverly is an excellent protagonist - smart, gritty, and fueled by strong emotions. She is an extraordinary woman who allows herself to be put in extraordinary situations as an expert/field operative on cults for the FBI.
Anne agrees to help on one last assignment and infiltrate an international cult called Change. The Change movement challenges Anne and forces her to face decades old memori
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this paperback sitting on my shelf so I wonder if I read it before, but I don't I remember doing so. And I should have remembered because it is very well written and gave me so much to think about. The main character is an older women, a professor of religion who has built "a persona on the wreckage of her former life. She had paved over the rubble, sealed up the debris of catastrophe with the clear, hard shell of academic discipline." Each chapter begins with extracts from her lessons o ...more
Lisa Weber
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
In King's Mary Russell novels, I have come to expect the writing of Laurie R. King to be intelligent, well researched, and exciting, with consistent characters and well thought out plot lines. Unfortunately, a Darker Place, my first excursion into one of King's non-Sherlock worlds, left me frustrated and hugely disappointed. I found the novel fraught with inconsistent reasoning, and confusing, unexplained choices repeatedly made by the protagonist. Worse, the entire premise of the story is unsub ...more
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Laurie R. King's, my favorite contemporary writer, stand alone books, or not part of her spectacular Mary Russell series, or her riveting and diametrically opposed Kate Martinelli series. Anne Waverly. I find it interesting in this age of ageism, that the heroine or main character is a 48 year old woman, going gray, perhaps on the verge of going all pear shaped, and yet...she can not be kept down, aggressively sexual, not afraid to get what she needs to maintain her delicate menta ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I regularly re-read King's Mary Russell stories and I enjoyed her Kate Martinelli books, but I hadn't read this one before for some reason.Glad I read it now.
Anything I have read before involving alchemy has always centred on the transformation of metals, changing lead into gold. It is always lead and I wonder if that is because of the con Ana mentions involving melting wax. The idea that people can be transformed into an eternally living being is not discussed in most books so it was interestin
Mar 02, 2011 added it
Shelves: mystery
King has a least two 'series' sets going, one following Mary Russel--the one-time protege of Sherlock Holmes, who now appears as her husband--and one following an SFPD cop from the 1990s, who happens to be a dyke and who happens to be hilarious.

Now, in A Darker Place, she introduces a new protagonist (Anne Waverly), but does so in a way that makes it seem as if she's already written at least three books about her. The references to this character's past are so elaborate, so detailed, and yet the
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
The only reason I stuck with this book was because I have enjoyed other books by Laurie R. King and basically thought she was a very good writer. Initially, I liked the premiss of the book -- an academic who specializes in religion and cults has functioned as a police consultant and is called again to duty -- a fourth. Anne Waverly, the professor, is always haunted by an 18 year experience with a cult in which she lost her husband and daughter. She is supposed to infiltrate the cult known as the ...more
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
A slow moving but psychologically intense look at cults, this novel refuses to be defined. It is a sometimes bleak but rewarding look at Alchemy - the concespt that people change when put under pressure is one that has made me think of this book over and over.

At the time much of Kings other works were a bit lighter in tone, even the sometimes grim Kate Martinelli series, so this novel was a bit of a shock for those wanting to cozy up to Russell and Holmes. Not for those who are uncomfortable wit
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since a book has captured me as thoroughly as this one. The development of the main character was bumpy at first, then settled into a gentle swell. Her backstory evolved in a unique way, deepening as the plot grew more compelling, simultaneously enriching the plot.

At times the raw foreboding was too much to endure; I would put the book down in order to get my bearings. It was the perfect book for my recovery from surgery-- just enough intellectual punch to tantalize, just
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Waverly suffered greatly after the deaths of her husband and young daughter. Involved in a religious cult, her husband and daughter were part of a group suicide while she was away. Now she is a sometimes undercover agent for the FBI, going into religious groups where cult activity is suspected. She thought she was finished with this work, and had settled down to her teaching as a University professor or religious studies. But, the FBI had one more assignment for her. And this one might just ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
open ending - needs epilogue
Deborah Merrill-sands
Loved this book. Great plot. And great writer. Makes me want to reread the Kate Marinelli series
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Agood read while it lasted, but rather fizzled out in the end. I expected a bigger bang somehow. Won't be keeping the paperback book.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I normally like King's writing, but not this one. This isn't the first time I've tried this book & have yet to get past about page 25.
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Hmm pretty far fetched to be honest. And the ending felt rushed. Not one of her best
Rosemary Dreyer
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
3 1/2 Stars: again, I think this book tried to do too many things, which muddied the plot. Love her writing and the characters, however.
Natascha Thoennes
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Terrible ending!
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it

Fascinating. Both the context of a modern, original cult under surveillance by law enforcement, and the heroine herself -- religious studies Professor Anne Waverly.

King likes to head each chapter w. some sort of passage. This time, it was multi-media - sometimes a drawing or hand-written math calculations by one of the characters, sometimes an excerpt from a letter or report or lecture transcript or book by Waverly.

Anne Waverly is truly a mystery that isn't solved by book's
Apr 27, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
The mass suicide by members of the Heaven's Gate cult in 1997 may explain why I originally thought of A Darker Place by Laurie R. King as a book about cults. I read it soon after it was published in 1999. Cults were in the news, and here was an inside look at what goes on in one. But this riveting novel is about much more than that, as I recently discovered when I reread it. King brilliantly weaves the theme of self-transformation into the nonstop action, when the FBI, suspicious of a cult calle ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I didn't like this as much as the other books by Laurie King. The premise wasn't as interesting and there were long periods of soul searching by the main character that I found to be very boring. Still, it did have some very interesting twists and turns and was worth reading. King is just such a good author, I think I was expecting too much.

The story is about Professor Anne Waverley, a university religion teacher and expert at infiltrating cults for the FBI. As a young woman, she and her husband
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
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King's most recent novel, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
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