cover image Darkness Peering

Darkness Peering

Alice Blanchard. Bantam Books, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-11153-8

Switching genres with ease, short story writer Blanchard, who won the 1996 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for her collection The Stuntman's Daughter, offers an accomplished suspense novel. Flowering Dogwood, Maine, is a picturesque New England town, a seemingly safe place where people can still leave their doors unlocked. And so the community is shocked when Melissa D'Agostino, a mentally challenged teenager, is strangled on her way home from school. Chief of Police Nalen Storrow, a father of two, is particularly distressed by the killing--even more so as he begins to suspect the killer may be someone he knows. Overwhelmed by the mounting pressures of his personal and professional life, Storrow commits suicide, and the murder case is closed, unsolved. Fast forward 18 years: Rachel Storrow has followed in her father's footsteps and joined the police force. Her life seems lonely and work obsessed; her girlfriends have long since moved away; her relationship with her awkward older brother, Billy, is distant; and her on-again, off-again lover, the current chief of police, is a married father of three. When an offhand comment from a minister leads Rachel to glance at the old D'Agostino murder files, the discovery that her brother was nearly considered a suspect sends her into an emotional spiral and convinces her to reopen the case. But her investigation is complicated by the sudden disappearance of her brother's co-worker, Claire Castillo, with whom he had fallen in love. Torn between her loyalty to her family and her duty as a cop, Rachel unwittingly finds herself confronting the same issues that troubled her father. And the answers she will find are no less disturbing. Blanchard's prose is swift and cinematic as she accelerates the suspense, and the tightly wrought ending offers a gut-wrenching, ironic twist. Agent, Wendy Weil. Rights sold in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the U.K.; movie rights to Propaganda Films. (Aug.)