Desert Places
Blake Crouch
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Desert Places
Blake Crouch
Thomas Dunne Books
272 pages
January 2004
rated 2 of 5 possible stars

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Successful mystery author Andrew Thomas is busy doing final edits to his latest manuscript in the peaceful environs of his home on the shores of Lake Norman. After a dayís hard work, he sifts through his mail and discovers a shocking letter alleging that a young womanís body has been buried somewhere on his property, killed by his kitchen knife and covered with his own blood. Accustomed to receiving threatening letters by ghoulish fans, at first Andrew doesnít take it seriously. But when he discovers the body exactly as the letter indicated, all his doubts about the letter being a nasty prank vanish into thin air.

Soon Andrew comes to realize that heís being watched and blackmailed by a most diabolical and intelligent killer, and his terror intensifies. The killer sends him a plane ticket to Denver, where heís instructed to take a room in a motel on the outskirts. Somehow, Andrew is then drugged, kidnapped and transported to an isolated cabin in the middle of the desert from where there is no escape. What does this nameless, faceless killer want with him? But what has Andrew even more puzzled and terrified is a feeling that the killer is someone known to him.

This debut effort by young author Blake Crouch is effective in its darkness, depravity and the sense of terror it inspires, not just in the character of Andrew Thomas, but also in the readers themselves. The author has delved deep into the twisted psyche of a serial killer and explores the belief that violence is inherent in us all and, with sufficient impetus, it has the power to consume a personís soul. With such a subject, the gory details are expected, but even then, there is an overabundance of the gruesome in this book. The killerís identity comes as a complete shock ,but since it is revealed early in the book, some of the suspense is lost. While the violent contents of the book may not be to the taste of all, the book nevertheless holds its horrified readersí mesmerized and carries them away into a world where morality and conscience are mere words, and primal instincts rules supreme. This book is truly ďa novel of terror."

Note Ė A sequel is in the works.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book.

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