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Available Dark: A Crime Novel by Elizabeth…
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Available Dark: A Crime Novel (edition 2012)

by Elizabeth Hand

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807150,606 (3.83)8
Member:Nightwing
Title:Available Dark: A Crime Novel
Authors:Elizabeth Hand
Info:Minotaur Books (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Available Dark: A Crime Novel by Elizabeth Hand

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
"Fresh Meat" by Victoria Janssen for Criminal Element

I’m familiar with Elizabeth Hand’s dark fantasy novels, so I was excited to see how her writing translated into another genre. I have not yet read Generation Loss, her first thriller, but its sequel Available Dark shows that whether she’s writing fantasy or mystery, the essence of Hand’s writing remains rich and complex like the best coffee. The thriller made me think one of her dark fantasies had been dosed with amphetamines.

As well as an exciting, gruesome thriller, Available Dark is a mediation on noir, in which moral boundaries are smeared and blended. The protagonist, photographer Cassandra Neary, is even more morally compromised than most noir heroes. She came of age in the punk era and was briefly famous for her only published book of photos, Dead Girls, but since then has been on a downward slide fueled by drugs and loss; she notes that after her single success, her whole life has been “aftermath.”

Read the rest at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/02/fresh-meat-available-dark-by-elizab...
  CrimeHQ | Apr 11, 2013 |
While still hugely dark and gritty, I don't think this was as raw as Generation Loss. (Which I'm okay with, honestly. Generation Loss fucked me up for a week.) I'm not sure if it's the book, though, or the fact that I'm familiar enough with Odinist death metal symbolism to be pretty unsurprised by almost everything that turned out happening?... ( )
  jen.e.moore | Mar 30, 2013 |
What is it about Cass Neary that fascinates me? If I knew her we would not be friends. I wouldn’t even want her at a party. She’s a liar and a thief. A manipulator and an addict. She sees in darkness instead of in light. She values pleasure, but only if its price is pain. A twisted freak, basically. But an engaging one.

Having just come from the abattoir that was her trip to Maine, Cass is desperate to keep herself together and the cops off her back. She receives an invitation to do some consulting in Finland and while there decides to go find her old lover who has recently sent a photo of himself that she took 30 years before. As in Generation Loss, Cass’s own penumbra of grit and despair attracts like and she’s down, down, down into a whirlpool of black metal, death photography, neolithic rituals and killing. I think the plot in this one is more deliberately evil than in the last. It feels heavier and more directly aimed at Cass even though she’s an accidental victim...a victim by propinquity.

Like in G.L., Hand’s writing conveys Cass’s inner landscape very well. Shards. Razoring through any and all thoughts she has, shredding them so that Cass has to piece them together again. There’s nothing cohesive about Cass. She’s in pieces. None of them work harmoniously. Her only goal is to stay medicated enough to stay numb to them. She’s her own worst enemy, but eerily indestructible. She takes abuse like no one else because I think she needs it. I think she thinks that’s the only real contact she deserves. I’m anxiously awaiting our next meeting. ( )
  Bookmarque | Mar 10, 2013 |
In Available Dark, Elizabeth continues the journey begun in Generation Loss. Her protagonist, Cass Neary, avoiding the authorities who want to question her about a death in Maine, now finds herself landing a job identifying some obscure photographs from the Black Metal world in Finland. She is barely in Finland long enough to do the job before she goes to Iceland to locate a lover from her youth. And then it begins to get strange. Everywhere Cass goes, bodies are left behind and strange photographs await her arrival, with Finnish black metal as the soundtrack. ( )
  Nightwing | Jan 2, 2013 |
Fresh on the heels of deaths in Maine and not wanting to handle uncomfortable questions about them, Cass Neary accepts a job now sending her to Finland to examine photos by a prominent photographer. Death continues to follow Cass through these images... then through the gruesome murder of the photographer and his assistant. By this time she has arrived in Iceland in pursuit of another mystery: receiving a photo of her youthful love. Her time in Iceland quickly comes to link back to Finland, with a view into the Black metal scene of the early 1990s, punk photos, and trying to stay alive.

Hand continues to weave a compelling story, with a strung out, has-been photographer of a protagonist who is, as her tattoo says, too tough to die. ( )
  quantumbutterfly | Oct 18, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
On the surface, the American writer Elizabeth Hand sounds disturbingly like Cass Neary, her central character in Available Dark. Both women are tall, slim, blonde and 55. Both grew up on punk culture, and both present themselves in a kind of outlaw style. Hand favours tattoos, the skin on her left arm vanishing under skeins of ink that portray figures not quite decipherable in the bare-armed photos of her on the Internet.

But there has to be a limit to the similarities. After all, Neary comes across in Available Dark as reckless, arrogant and somewhat self-destructive. Surely that can’t describe Hand, as well. And, according to an interview Hand gave not long ago, it doesn’t. Not quite. Neary, Hand says, “is me if my brake lines had been cut.” In writing about Neary, Hand says she was “channeling the worst possible version of myself.”

Hand is a sharply observant writer. Most of her work has been done in the fantasy end of science fiction, and her nine fantasy novels have won her much more than cult popularity. When the World Fantasy Convention gathers next November at Toronto’s Sheraton Parkway Hotel, Hand will appear as the Guest of Honour.

Her two departures from fantasy into crime fiction occur in books featuring Cass Neary. First came Generation Loss in 2007, and now Available Dark. Neary, who depends on Jack Daniels and prescription brands of speed to keep functioning, is a New York art photographer. She’s the old-fashioned kind, no digital for her, which means she gets little work. But she’s much respected for her taste in avant garde photography, and at the beginning of the new book, a Norwegian collector hires her to authenticate six pictures he intends to buy for big bucks from a prominent Finnish photographer.

The book’s first 100 pages, as Neary stokes herself on booze and pills and flies to Helsinki, are brilliant and exhilarating. Readers learn all kinds of fascinating stuff about photography and somewhat less fabulous stuff about black metal rock. The rest of the book gets closer to routine as characters connected to the photographs are murdered, and the scene shifts to Iceland. That’s where Neary goes to look up her boyfriend of 30 years earlier. The mystery and threat of the Helsinki killings seems to follow.

The narrative may lose steam, but Neary remains a riveting figure to whom dreadful things just naturally happen. She suffers more concussions than Sidney Crosby, and is dumped in Iceland’s winter wilderness without hat, gloves or coat. Neary survives, just barely, which is something else she has in common with Elizabeth Hand. Hand has explained in interviews that, at age 21, she was abducted and raped, leaving her “with vast reservoirs of rage and fear.”
added by VivienneR | editThe Toronto Star, Jack Batten (May 5, 2012)
 
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Epigraph
All those young photographers who are at work in the world, determined upon the capture of actuality, do not know that they are agents of Death.

Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard
Domine, libera nos a furore normannorum.

—Medieval prayer
Dedication
For Russell Dunn, 1958-2011,
soul mate, true artist, and fellow traveler in Reykjavík,
with love always
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There had been more trouble, as usual.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Elizabeth Hand's writing honors include the Shirley Jackson Award, the James Tiptree Award, the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and many others. Now this uniquely gifted storyteller brings us a searing and iconoclastic crime novel in which photographer Cass Neary, introduced in the underground classic Generation Loss, finds herself drawn into the shadowy world of crime in Scandinavia's coldest corners.

As this riveting tour de force opens, the police already want to talk to Cass about a mysterious death she was involved with previously, but before they can bring her in, she accepts a job offer from overseas and hops on a plane.

In Helsinki, she authenticates a series of disturbing but stunning images taken by a famous fashion photographer who has cut himself off from the violent Nordic music scene where he first made his reputation. Paid off by her shady employer, she buys a one-way ticket to Reykjavik, in search of a lover from her own dark past.

But when the fashion photographer's mutilated corpse is discovered back in Finland, Cass finds herself sucked into a vortex of ancient myth and betrayal, vengeance and serial murder, set against a bone-splintering soundtrack of black metal and the terrifying beauty of the sunless Icelandic wilderness.

In this eagerly awaited sequel to the award-winning Generation Loss, Cass Neary finds her own worst fears confirmed — it's always darkest before it turns completely black.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312585942, Hardcover)

“A skin-blistering crime novel, as edgy and black as dried blood on a moonlit night.”

--Robert Crais

 

Elizabeth Hand’s writing honors include the Shirley Jackson Award, the James Tiptree Award, the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and many others. Now, this uniquely gifted storyteller brings us a searing and iconoclastic crime novel, in which photographer Cass Neary, introduced in the underground classic Generation Loss, finds herself drawn into the shadowy world of crime in Scandinavia’s coldest corners.

 

As this riveting tour-de-force opens, the police already want to talk to Cass about a mysterious death she was involved with previously, but before they can bring her in, Cass accepts a job offer from overseas and hops on a plane.

 

In Helsinki, she authenticates a series of disturbing but stunning images taken by a famous fashion photographer who has cut himself off from the violent Nordic music scene where he first made his reputation.  Paid off by her shady employer, she buys a one-way ticket to Reykjavik, in search of a lover from her own dark past.

 

But when the fashion photographer’s mutilated corpse is discovered back in Finland, Cass finds herself sucked into a vortex of ancient myth and betrayal, vengeance and serial murder, set against a bone-splintering soundtrack of black metal and the terrifying beauty of the sunless Icelandic wilderness.  In this eagerly awaited sequel to the award-winning Generation Loss, Cass Neary finds her own worst fears confirmed: it’s always darkest before it turns completely black.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Fleeing for her life after she is shown photographs of ritual killings during a mysterious job in Helsinki, Cass Neary encounters a former lover and exiled musician in Iceland only to be inundated by a series of unsolved murders.

(summary from another edition)

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