INSTRUMENTS OF NIGHT by Thomas H. Cook
Kirkus Star

INSTRUMENTS OF NIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Everybody at Riverwood, Allison Davies's estate in upstate New York, has always assumed that Jake Mosley is the one who murdered teenaged Faye Harrison over 50 years ago--everybody, that is, except Faye's ravaged mother. Now Miss Davies wants to help Mrs. Harrison put the case to rest, not by finally getting at the truth but by coming up with a story that will satisfy Faye's mother even if it's completely false. Carefully explaining what she wants to thriller writer Paul Graves, whom she's chosen as Riverwood's writer-in-residence for the summer, she provides him with access to all the dusty evidence of the police investigation. It's a perfect setup for one of Cook's painstaking descents into the past (The Chatham School Affair, 1996, etc.), with one harrowing difference: the storyteller Miss Davies has picked, haunted by his own sister's murder 30 years before, has been obsessively rewriting her killer into all his novels and can't help seeing him, his henchman, and his detective nemesis at every corner of the Harrison mystery. So Cook ends up sliding back and forth not only between past and present but between fact and fiction as tormented Graves imagines different suspects in unspeakable yet frighteningly plausible roles in Faye's death. To the slow burn that's been Cook's hallmark Graves brings a riveting imagination of disaster. Too bad The Chatham School Affair won an Edgar; this once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece deserves it much more.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1998
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Bantam