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Instruments of Night (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553578200, Mass Market Paperback)Paul Graves is a crime writer obsessed with a single crime--the murder of his own teenaged sister on their Southern farm almost 40 years before. To work out his guilt and fear, he has created a series of mysteries set at the turn of the century, in which a dedicated detective pursues a fiendish killer called Kessler--the real name of the man who slaughtered his sister. His obsession has made Graves a sad, lonely man, "living thinly, without connections," already preparing to kill himself when he can no longer write his books.
Keeping readers interested in a dark and brooding character like Graves is no easy task, and Thomas H. Cook--who won an Edgar for his superb The Chatham School Affair--needs all his narrative skills to avoid sinking us in a sea of gloom. Invited to Riverwood, a Hudson River Valley estate turned into a writers' retreat, to help solve a 50-year-old mystery involving the death of a young woman, Graves is assisted by a shrewd and sympathetic playwright, Eleanor Stern. Together, they sift through all the clues linking the dead girl to the wealthy family who owned the estate. Old-fashioned detective work plays a large part in discovering what really happened, as well as the too-convenient appearance of files and live witnesses from the period. As for Graves and his disconcerting habit of slipping back into the past at more and more frequent intervals ("You're always imagining things, aren't you? Terrible things," one character says to him), a final revelation about his personal demons turns out to be no surprise at all. Other, more satisfying Cook books available in paperback include Evidence of Blood and Breakheart Hill. --Dick Adler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:36 -0400)
In upstate New York, an aging mother wonders why someone would murder her daughter, killed as a little girl fifty years earlier. So a friend with money hires novelist Paul Graves to write, not necessarily the truth since the crime was never solved, just something to put the mother's mind at rest. Who knows, in the process he might even discover the truth.
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