THIEF OF SOULS by Darian North


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 A New York architect's life is turned upside-down when his wife is swallowed up by a New Age cult. From their very first meeting, when Dan Behr rescued Alexandra Vaughn from a suicide attempt, their life together had always had a dreamlike quality. Dan could never believe a woman as beautiful as Alex could be initially so sad, so lonely, and so attracted to him. But when Alex, away for the weekend on a retreat in a Greenwich Village brownstone, vanishes into the bowels of a cult called the Ark, Dan slowly realizes how much he never knew about Alex all these years. He didn't know she was once a top model who hated her looks; he didn't know she was still in touch with her manipulative yet remote mother Valerie; he didn't know that in important ways her life continued to be a nightmare from which only unquestioning obedience to an authority figure could save her. Now the nightmare is Dan's, as he scrambles to hang onto his job and take care of his five-year-old daughter, Hana, while also figuring out how to retrieve Alex from the Ark's clutches. Rejecting the cautionary advice of gentle psychologist Laura Ferren, he hires militant deprogrammer Everett May, with predictably disastrous results. In the aftermath of the rescue attempt, Dan settles into a hopeful new life, finally accepting the love Laura's been offering him from the beginning. But this dream is shattered too when Ark members return to grab Hana, and Dan decides that the only way to get his daughter back is to enter the Ark himself, prompting a series of movielike tableaux of indoctrination, torture, and climactic explosions. North (Bone Deep, 1995, etc.) is heartrendingly precise in evoking Dan's despair as he goes through the motions of his life without Alex. It's only when the story shifts gears--especially when Dan enters the belly of the beast to confront the huckster messiah--that tension and conviction falter. (First printing of 60,000)

Pub Date: March 24th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94200-9
Page count: 377pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997


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