In Steelton, as struggling city on the cusp of an economic turnaround, two prominent men are found dead. One is Tommy Fielding, a senior officer of the company building a new baseball stadium, the city's hope for the future. The other is Jack Novak, the local drug dealers' attorney. Fielding's death with a prostitute, from an overdose of heroin, seems accidental; Novak is apparently the victim of a ritual murder. But in each case the character of the dead man seems contradicted by the particulars of his death. Coincidence or connection?
The question falls to Assistant County Prosecutor Stella Marz. A driven woman, she is called the Dark Lady by defense lawyers for her relentless, sometimes ruthless, style: in seven years only one case has gotten away from her, and only because the defendant took his own life. Making her way through a maze of corruption, deceit, and greed, trusting no one, Stella comes to believe that the search for the truth involves the bleak history of Steelton itself - a history that now endangers her future, and perhaps her life. Dark Lady is Richard North Patterson's signature work.
©1999 by Richard North Patterson; (P)1999 Random House, Inc.
I'm half-way through this thing, hoping it will speed up, somehow turn a corner, and become more interesting. It's just not happening. Think I'll move on to another title. This one's just not making it.
My advice - don't waste your money.
I have been a fan of the author for quite some time and have really enjoyed books by him that I have previously read and/or to which I have listened. However, I found this one to be severely disappointing, in that not much really happens and there were too many characters, many of whom were never really expanded upon and the characters who were sufficiently developed, never really became either likeable or interesting. The premise of the book evolved completely around political machinations, strategies and subterfuge, 99% of which escaped me completely; it was very difficult to follow.
I am a mystery fan, and love long complex English myteries like those by PD James. With this in mind, I am struggling to finish this book, and I am 30 minutes from the end of a 14 hour LONNGGG book. It is 14 hours of conversations, and without action, it gets tedious. Like everyone else I kept wondering what it was leading up to, waiting for the action packed surprise ending. Still waiting, and wading through the diolog. I cannot recommend it.
With "Dark Lady," Richard North Patterson revisits one of the secondary characters from his earlier novel, "Silent Witness," this time putting her in the spotlight. The action, again, takes place in a fictional, decaying Ohio town standing in for Cleveland. In "Silent Witness," Stella Marz served as Assistant Erie County Prosecutor, battling that novel's protagonist, Tony Lord. Tough as nails, sharp as needles, she gave Tony a daunting challenge. Now we get a closer look at her. Her colleagues call her "the Dark Lady," because of her nearly perfect record of convictions -- her only loss having occurred against Tony Lord in the earlier novel. Now, still serving as Assistant County Prosecutor in charge of the homicide unit, she has the opportunity to run for her boss' job, providing that he, in turn, succeeds in his bid for Mayor. Only, things get complicated. The complications all center around the new ball park that the town is building to re-vitalize itself. It seems that everyone -- including the Mob -- wants to skim a bit off the top of this public feed-trough; and some of those skimmers have no qualms about killing people who stand in their way. Enter Stella Marz. "Dark Lady" has a complex plot, with lots of devious, near-impenetrable financial shenanigans. This complexity -- together with the cerebral plot, where much of the action takes place intellectually, rather than physically -- probably prompted some of the previous negative reviews. If you are looking for lots of action, you should probably bypass "Dark Lady." I admit that some of the financial aspects of the plot went over my head. Also, like in his earlier novels, Richard North Patterson includes some objectionable sex scenes in "Dark Lady." However, he continues his perfect record of intelligent, intriguing plots, written well. The reader, Anne Twomey, has a lovely, soft voice, but insufficient range to distinguish all the characters from one another when they are speaking to each other. Sometimes I couldn't tell who was saying what to whom. Also -- voicing my perennial complaint to Audible -- the bookmarks in this audiobook are spaced much too far apart, making it difficult for one to navigate on one's iPod. (I think that Audible has corrected this problem on more recent publications.) If you are thinking of purchasing this audiobook, I recommend listening to "Silent Witness" first. You don't need to do so -- "Dark Lady" stands alone -- but I enjoyed recognizing the earlier characters when they made their appearances here.
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