Cover image for Dark lady
Title:
Dark lady
Author:
Patterson, Richard North.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First trade edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Physical Description:
371 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780679450436
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

InDark Lady, Richard North Patterson displays the mastery of setting, psychology, and story that makes him unique among writers of suspense, and one of today's most original and enthralling novelists. In Steelton, a struggling Midwestern city on the cusp of an economic turnaround, two prominent men are found dead within days of each other. 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 of choice. 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. Despite a traumatic breach with her alcoholic and embittered father, she has risen from a working-class background to become head of the prosecutor's homicide unit. 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. She has earned every inch of both her official and her off-the-record titles, and recently she's decided to go after another: to become the first woman elected Prosecutor of Erie County. But that was before the brutal murder of her ex-lover--Jack Novak. Novak's death leads her into a labyrinth where her personal and professional lives become dangerously intertwined. There is the possibility that Novak fixed drug cases for the city's crime lord, Vincent Moro, with the help of law enforcement personnel, and perhaps with someone in Stella's own office . . . the bitter mayoral race which threatens to undermine her own ambitions . . . her attraction to a colleague who may not be what he seems . . . the lingering, complicated effects of her painful affair with Novak . . . the growing certainty that she is being watched and followed. 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. For his uncanny dialogue, subtle delineation of character, and hypnotic narrative, critics have compared Richard North Patterson to John O'Hara and Dashiell Hammett. Now, in the character of the Dark Lady, he has created a woman as fascinating as her world is haunting.Dark Ladyis his signature work.


Author Notes

Richard North Patterson was born in Berkeley, California on February 22, 1947. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1968 and Case Western Reserve University's School of Law in 1971. He has served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio; a trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco; and was the SEC's liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor. He retired from the practice of law in 1993 to become a full-time writer. He studied creative writing with Jesse Hill Ford at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

His first novel, The Lasko Tangent, won an Edgar Allen Poe Award in 1979. His other works include Private Screening, Eyes of a Child, Silent Witness, No Safe Place, Exile, Eclipse, The Devil's Light, and Fall from Grace. He has received several awards of his work including the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1995 for Degree of Guilt and a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood for Protect and Defend.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Set in Steelton, a city that sounds like Cleveland before it pulled itself up by its bootstraps, Patterson's latest blockbuster is a riveting story of evil, betrayal, corruption, and greed, filled with dark introspection, nail-biting suspense, and unexpected twists. Stella Marz, daughter of a Polish immigrant, has overcome steep odds to become a respected assistant county prosecutor and the protegeof mayoral candidate Arthur Bright. Steelton's future looks as hopeful as Stella's, with the Steelton 2000 project promising a new stadium for the beloved Steelton Blues and, not coincidentally, millions in revenues for the city. But the bizarre death of Tommy Fielding, the Steelton 2000 manager, threatens to derail the project. Fielding's death is followed closely by the gruesome murder of Jack Novak, Stella's onetime lover, now lawyer to Mafia movers and shakers. Stella aims to get at the truth before the fallout damages Arthur Bright's campaign or plays havoc with Steelton 2000. But the truth is dark, perilous, and horrifying, and as Stella seeks answers, she is betrayed by those she trusted most and finds even those she admired becoming the victims of greed and corruption. Determined to solve the case no matter what the cost, Stella is ultimately confronted with her deepest fears. Patterson's latest is a superbly crafted, provocative stunner. A must-read for thriller fans. --Emily Melton


Publisher's Weekly Review

Patterson's signature style of crime suspense depends heavily on the terse descriptive passages he uses to render settings and characters. This makes his work adapt especially well to audio, since the listener is constantly being told exactly what's going onÄin adjective-laden language that has modern-day colorings of film noir and Raymond Chandler. (Accordingly, all eight of Patterson's previous novels are also available from Random House AudioBooks). Stella Marz is a politically ambitious Assistant County Prosecutor in Steelton, an American rust-belt city plagued by unemployment, racial division and rampant local corruption. Young, beautiful and forthright, Stella has earned the nickname "Dark Lady" as a ruthless law-woman. But she meets her match when she's assigned to investigate the grisly murder of her own ex-lover, an attorney for the town's drug dealers. Along the way, plenty of sordid sexual and violent acts are detailed, making for a sustained mood of grimy titillation. Kalember's (of TV's Sisters and thirtysomething) reading is crisply enunciated and tactfully understated. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. Also available unabridged and on CD. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Patterson (No Safe Place) deftly combines his knack for spellbinding legal drama and his recent interest in the world of politics. Stella Marz is the assistant county prosecutor in a struggling Midwestern city. Her boss is running for mayor, and Stella hopes to be elected to his job. First, however, she must investigate the deaths of two prominent menÄthe project manager for the construction of a new baseball stadium and the city's leading defender of drug cases. Neither is clearly murder, but the circumstances are horrific and unusual, involving heroin and kinky sex. Stella's investigation quickly becomes a factor in the mayoral race, and the candidates, their backers, and other ambitious county employees all play roles in Stella's progress. The deeper she goes, the more signs of corruption she finds, and the less she can trust her friends, her co-workers, and even herself. As in all of Patterson's books, the plot's twists and turns build to an unexpected conclusion. Patterson has peopled this very believable novel with fascinating characters, and his understanding of political subtleties is superb. Highly recommended. [Literary Guild main selection.]ÄKatherine E.A. Sorci, IIT Research Inst., Annapolis, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One In the moments before the brutal murder of Jack Novak ended what she later thought of as her time of innocence, Assistant County Prosecutor Stella Marz gazed down at the waterfront of her native city, Steelton. At thirty-eight, Stella would not have called herself an innocent. Nor was the view from her corner office one that lightened her heart. The afternoon sky was a close, sunless cobalt, typical of Steelton in winter. The sludge-gray Onandaga River divided the city as it met Lake Erie beneath a steel bridge: the valley carved by the river was a treeless expanse of railroad tracks, boxcars, refineries, cranes, chemical plants, and, looming over all of this, the smokestacks of the steel mills--squat, black, and enormous--on which Steelton's existence had once depended. From early childhood, Stella could remember the stench of mill smoke, the stain left on the white blouse of her school uniform drying on her mother's clothesline; from her time in night law school, she recalled the evening that the river had exploded in a stunning instant of spontaneous combustion caused by chemical waste and petroleum derivatives, the flames which climbed five stories high against the darkness. Between these two moments--the apogee of the mills and the explosion of the river--lay the story of a city and its decline. By heritage, Stella herself was part of this story. The mills had boomed after the Civil War, manned by the earliest wave of immigrants--Germans and British, Welsh and Irish--who, in the early 1870s, had worked fourteen hours a day, six days a week. Their weekly pay was $11.50; in 1874, years of seething resentment ignited a strike, with angry workers demanding twenty-five cents more a week. The leading owner, Amasa Hall, shut down his mills, informing the strikers that, upon reopening, he would give jobs only to those who agreed to a fifty-cent cut. When the strikers refused, Hall boarded his yacht and embarked on a cruise around the world. Hall stopped at Danzig, then a Polish seaport on the Baltic. He advertised extensively for young workers, offering the kingly wage of $7.25 a week and free transport to America. The resulting wave of Polish strikebreakers--poor, hardworking, Roman Catholic, and largely illiterate--had included Stella's great-grandfather, Carol Marzewski. It was on their backs that Amasa Hall had, quite systematically, undercut and eventually wiped out the other steel producers in the area, acquiring their mills and near-total sway over the region's steel industry. And it was the slow, inexorable decline of those same mills into sputtering obsolescence which had left Stella's father, Armin Marz, unemployed and bitter. Recalling the flames which had leaped from the Onandaga, a brilliant orange-blue against the night sky, had reminded Stella of another memory from childhood, the East Side riots. Just as the West Side of Steelton was home to European immigrants--the first wave had been joined by Italians, Russians, Poles, Slovaks, and Austro-Hungarians--so the city's industry had drawn a later influx of migrants from the American South, the descendants of former slaves, to the eastern side of the Onandaga. But these newcomers were less welcomed, by employers or the heretofore all-white labor force. Stella could not remember a time in her old neighborhood, Warszawa, when the black interlopers were not viewed with suspicion and contempt; the fiery explosion of the East Side into riots in the sixties--three days of arson and shootouts with police--had helped convert this into fear and hatred. A last trickle of nonwhites--Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Koreans, Haitians, Chinese, and Vietnamese--felt welcome, if at all, only on the impoverished East Side. And so the split symbolized by the Onandaga hardened, and racial politics became as natural to Steelton as breathing polluted air. This divide, too, shadowed Stella's thoughts. In the last six years, she had won every case but one--a hung jury following the murder trial of a high school coach who had made one of his students pregnant and who, devastated by Stella's particularly ruthless cross-examination, had thereafter committed suicide. It was this which had led a courtroom deputy to give Stella a nickname which now enjoyed wide currency among the criminal defense bar: the Dark Lady. But only recently had they become aware of her ambition, long nurtured, to become the first woman elected Prosecutor of Erie County. Though this was a daunting task, it was by no means impossible. Stella was a daughter of the West Side, a young woman her neighborhood was proud of--an honors student who had worked through college and law school; had remained an observant Catholic; had not turned her back on Steelton and its problems, as had so many of her generation; had already become head of her office's homicide unit. Stella was not a vain woman, and had always seen herself with objectivity: though she lacked the gifts for bonhomie and self-promotion natural to many politicians, she was articulate, truthful, and genuinely concerned with making her office, and her city, better. She was attractive enough without being threatening to other women, with a tangle of thick brown hair; pale skin; a broad face with a cleft chin and somewhat exotic brown eyes, a hint of Eurasia which Stella privately considered her best feature; a sturdy build which she managed to keep trim through relentless exercise and attention to diet, yet another facet of the self-discipline which had been hammered into her at home and school. And if there were no husband or children to soften the image of an all-business prosecutor or, Stella thought ruefully, her deepening sense of solitude, at least there was no one to object or to say, as Armin Marz might, had he not lost the gifts of memory and reason, that she was reaching above herself. But her biggest problem, Stella knew, was not that she was a woman. It was as clear to her as the river which divided her city: she was a white ethnic with no base on the black East Side. And with that, her thoughts, and her gaze, moved to the most hopeful, most problematic, aspect of the cityscape before her--the steel skeleton of the baseball stadium Mayor Krajek had labeled Steelton 2000. Excerpted from Dark Lady by Richard North Patterson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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