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Dark lady
Patterson, Richard North.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio Publishing, [1999]

Physical Description:
5 audio discs : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

Compact disc.
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Format :
Audiobook on CD


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Read by Patricia Kalember 5 CDs / 6 hours In Steelton, a struggling Midwestern city on the cusp of an economic turnaround, two prominent men are found dead within days of each other:  the general manager of the company that is building a new baseball stadium, the city's hope for the future; and the local drug dealers' attorney of choice.  In each case, homicide is suspected but not immediately provable; in each case, the character of the dead man seems contradicted by the horrific particulars of his death.  But Stella Marz--Assistant County Prosecutor, head of the homicide division of the prosecutor's office--is about to discover that these deaths are connected in less obvious, more insidious ways.  Her investigation will lead her into a terrifying, dizzying maze of corruption, greed, and murder, involving not only Steelton's dark history but also her own complicated, difficult past as well.  And the closer she comes to the truth, the higher and more personal the cost she will be forced to pay... Richard North Patterson's uncanny dialogue, subtle delineation of character, and hypnotic narrative, have earned his comparisons to John O'Hara and Dashiell Hammett.  Now, inDark Lady, he has created a woman as fascinating as her circumstances are frightening.  It is 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 (Degree of Guilt; No Safe Place) has advanced considerably from his earlier, rather glib commercial thrillers. His world now seems much more somber, his characters more ridden with real-world angst; only a tendency to melodramatic flourishes and a certain narrative slickness suggest the pop writer he once was. His setting this time is Steelton, a grim Midwestern city on a lake that went into the dumps when its steel mills folded, and whose ambitious mayor wants to help revive it with an expensive sports stadium. The stadium seems to be good for the city and its suffering minority workers, but who really stands to gain? And what role does the shadowy mafia capo who runs the city's drug trade play in the proceedings? What about the plucky black mayoral candidate who sees the stadium as a rip-off by which the rich get richer? Against this highly detailed and well-observed background, Patterson introduces Stella Marz, chief of homicide in the local prosecutor's office, and a woman not without her own ambitions. She has personal demons to overcome: a wretchedly unhappy childhood, an unwise affair in her youth with a flashy lawyer who became the drug king's mouthpiece. Now the lawyer, and one of the top execs in the stadium company, have been found dead, in bizarre circumstances that suggest they both lived exotic secret lives. It is Stella's job, with the aid of a police chief whose motives she never quite grasps, to sort all this out. Patterson has devised a fiendishly complex plot combining financial shenanigans in high places, police corruption, political pressures and, ultimately threats, to Stella's sanity and life, all resolved in a High Noon-style windup that leaves Steelton and Stella only slightly better off than they began. Patterson's attempt to go beyond commercial formulas to create real, contemporary American drama is admirable, but somewhat undermined by, for example, a reader's realization that a character with an adorable small daughter cannot, in the nature of Patterson's fiction, be a villain. Literary Guild main selection; Random audio and large print editions. (Aug.) (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.



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. From the Paperback edition. 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.