A Review by Sandra Rutttan

A Field of Darkness has many aspects that make it a compelling read. The use of language is refreshing. The mystery is an intriguing one, worthy of investigation, and the process of discovery is impeded by obstacles, ensuring the answers do not come easily to an inexperienced journalist.

Author Cornelia Read has a way of wording things that is sharp and distinctive. With a few deft phrases she can paint a clear picture of the scene, the person, the politics at play. Beyond the cold case that protagonist Madeline Dare has been drawn into – a case that’s solution may lead back to her family – there is the journey Madeline is on, to reconcile her present circumstances with her disjointed past. She is so aptly introduced in the first lines of chapter 1. “There are people who can be happy anywhere. I am not one of them.” Madeline Dare is a complex character that doesn’t have the usual crime protagonist’s foibles, but her struggles resonate with authenticity and it is easy to relate to this well-bred young woman finding herself on the edge of nowhere, struggling to keep the wanderlust spirit at bay as she wrestles with her discontentment during her husband’s long absences.

I was on the third page of A Field of Darkness when I had a writer-moment. After grabbing a pen and a notebook to jot down all the verbs and phrases that are unique to Cornelia’s style, I resumed reading. It’s a writer-thing that, no matter whose book I’m reading, I always think about doing. Sometimes, I actually manage to take notes but if the book is incredible, I have to read it again – I just can’t put it down even for a second.

By page four the pen and paper were forgotten as I was swept into Madeline Dare’s journey and I’m not complaining. I didn’t need an excuse to re-read this exceptional debut.

Be sure to read Sandra's in-depth two part interview with Cornelia Read in Spring 2006 and Summer 2006 issues of SPINETINGLER Magazine.


Sandra Ruttan has just signed a deal for the release of her first novel, Suspicious Circumstances, in November 2006. A regular contributor to Spinetingler Magazine, her work can also be found in the May/June and July/August issues of Crimespree Magazine. For more information about Sandra visit her website at www.sandraruttan.com

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