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Book cover of A Cry from the Dark: A Novel of Suspense

A Cry from the Dark: A Novel of Suspense

by Robert Barnard

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pages: 288
Paperback
ISBN: 9781416569633






Available to Buy

Overview of A Cry from the Dark: A Novel of Suspense

Master of mystery Robert Barnard, internationally acclaimed for his suspenseful, witty literary gems, cleverly mixes past and present in A Cry from the Dark, an intriguing tour de force sweeping from 1930s Australia to contemporary London.

Bettina Whitelaw has come a long way from her childhood in the little outback town of Bundaroo, Australia. Many years have passed, a lifetime really, but she's never forgotten what happened there on the evening that changed her life forever.

How could she forget the school dance, her taunting classmates, dancing with the strange but brilliant English boy, Hughie Naismyth? How could she forget what happened next, when, overheated and exhilarated by the music and the moment, she wandered off alone into a secluded, wooded area?

Now a renowned, elderly author living in London's elegant Holland Park, Bettina faces a flood of memories as she works on her memoirs, even though her focus is more on the frightening things that are happening today. Someone has recently entered her home and gone through her desk. The intruder is clearly not an ordinary burglar. It must be someone she knows. She's been a little lax in handing out keys, so the suspects are many -- her nephew, Mark; her agent, Clare; her friends, Peter or Katie. Or it could be someone else.

What does Bettina possess that this person would want to steal? A puzzle that at first seems mildly disturbing soon turns deadly serious. Someone is willing to kill -- but why? Does the answer rest in Bundaroo or nearer to home?

A Cry from the Dark shows us vintage Robert Barnard as he slyly lays the clues that lead to his trademark surprise -- and poignant -- ending.

Synopsis of A Cry from the Dark: A Novel of Suspense

Master of mystery Robert Barnard, internationally acclaimed for his suspenseful, witty literary gems, cleverly mixes past and present in A Cry from the Dark, an intriguing tour de force sweeping from 1930s Australia to contemporary London.

Bettina Whitelaw has come a long way from her childhood in the little outback town of Bundaroo, Australia. Many years have passed, a lifetime really, but she's never forgotten what happened there on the evening that changed her life forever.

How could she forget the school dance, her taunting classmates, dancing with the strange but brilliant English boy, Hughie Naismyth? How could she forget what happened next, when, overheated and exhilarated by the music and the moment, she wandered off alone into a secluded, wooded area?

Now a renowned, elderly author living in London's elegant Holland Park, Bettina faces a flood of memories as she works on her memoirs, even though her focus is more on the frightening things that are happening today. Someone has recently entered her home and gone through her desk. The intruder is clearly not an ordinary burglar. It must be someone she knows. She's been a little lax in handing out keys, so the suspects are many -- her nephew, Mark; her agent, Clare; her friends, Peter or Katie. Or it could be someone else.

What does Bettina possess that this person would want to steal? A puzzle that at first seems mildly disturbing soon turns deadly serious. Someone is willing to kill -- but why? Does the answer rest in Bundaroo or nearer to home?

A Cry from the Dark shows us vintage Robert Barnard as he slyly lays the clues that lead to his trademark surprise -- and poignant -- ending.

The Washington Post

A well-plotted mystery, A Cry From the Dark is also an absorbing novel of character about raising and lowering emotional barriers, and about how old age is no excuse for refusing to face hard truths about people and about oneself. — Richard Lipez

About the Author, Robert Barnard

Robert Barnard's most recent novel is Dying Flames. His other books include The Graveyard Position, A Cry from the Dark, The Mistress of Alderley, The Bones in the Attic, A Scandal in Belgravia, Out of the Blackout, and many more. Winner of the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger and Nero Wolfe awards, as well as the Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity awards, the eight-time Edgar nominee is a member of Britain's distinguished Detection Club. He and his wife, Louise, live in Leeds, England.

Reviews of A Cry from the Dark: A Novel of Suspense

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Editorials

The Washington Post

A well-plotted mystery, A Cry From the Dark is also an absorbing novel of character about raising and lowering emotional barriers, and about how old age is no excuse for refusing to face hard truths about people and about oneself. — Richard Lipez

Publishers Weekly

Prolific British author Barnard (The Mistress of Alderley, etc.) offers a slow-to-start but strong-to-finish thriller set somewhat confusingly in both rural 1930s Australia and contemporary England. Eighty-year-old Bettina (once Betty) Whitelaw is an acclaimed London writer whose semi-autobiographical novels take place in the Outback settlement of Bundaroo, the desolate town she left behind forever after being raped in her teens one summer night by an unknown assailant. Occasionally endearing, but more often emotionally empty, Bettina now finds herself threatened by the distant past when the ransacking of her flat and an assault on her maid Katie suggest that vindictive former acquaintances, fearful of what she may be writing about them, have pursued her to England. An odd assortment of ex-friends and lovers, plus several family members, including her "unacknowledged daughter" Sylvia (the offspring of Bettina's brief marriage to a British army officer), arrive in London to create an intriguing collection of suspects in what soon becomes a murder case. With abrupt time and place transitions and obscure chapter titles, we are led through a complicated series of ever-more-suspenseful incidents that build to a semi-tragic, though largely predictable, finale that will play on the reader's emotions if not Bettina's. (Feb. 17) FYI: Barnard has won Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards, and in 2003 received the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

Suspense takes a back seat to Barnard's trademark character development and knack for social observation in this nonseries work. (Barnard is also author of the Charlie Peace series.) At 80, Londoner Bettina Whitelaw, "mildly famous" for her satirical novels, is writing her memoirs. Intermittent flashbacks describe her at 16, too bright and talented for her remote Australian outback town of Bundaroo. She takes the opportunity to get away when a violent event alters her life. As this event-already broadly signaled-is revealed, more trouble develops. The woman watching Bettina's apartment while Bettina is away is brutally attacked and a piece of aboriginal art is stolen. Who was the intended victim, and what was the thief's real objective, Bettina's wealth or what she was writing? All the major characters are particularly well drawn-extremely sexually active oldsters, a cheeky agent, the rediscovered daughter whom Bettina gave away as an infant-but Bettina stands out as a woman who has lived life on her own terms, with few regrets. Her story, and that of her small hometown with its dark secrets, make this another fine entertainment from a much-lauded author.-Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

An elderly London memoirist recalls her present on graduating from the Australian outback: rape. In her 80 years, Bettina Whitelaw has had many successes, including a passel of well-received novels whose acerbic send-ups of thinly veiled real people have won her a lovely flat in Holland Park Crescent filled with Aboriginal art. But there have also been a few glitches along the way, including a wartime marriage that ended in quick divorce and unwanted pregnancy and, still further back, a sexual assault that sent her scurrying from rural Bundaroo to her auntie in Armidale, then on to Sydney, and finally off to London. Now, as she's dredging up her past for literary fodder, her brother Oliver, his son Mark, and the daughter she set out for adoption over 50 years ago all descend on her from Australia. Hughie, the pommy London aesthete who's the only friend she's kept from her youth, drones on that they all want her money. But someone who wants even more breaks into her flat, putting her former housekeeper into a coma and absconding with a piece of well-publicized Aboriginal art. Is the motive greed? Payback for dysfunctional mothering? Or a plan to smash those memoir tapes and evade responsibility for that ancient rape? Below par for the usually dexterous Barnard (The Mistress of Alderley, p. 271, etc.), with surprisingly heavy-handed attempts at misdirection, although the 1930s outback sequences will keep you reading.

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