When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel

· Sold by Ballantine Books
9 reviews

About this ebook

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • “A total departure for the author of The Paris Wife, McLain’s emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller entwines its fictional crime with real cases.”—People (Book of the Week)

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MARIE CLAIRE • “The kind of heart-pounding conclusion that thriller fans crave . . . In the end, a book full of darkness lands with a message of hope.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This mystery will keep you guessing, and stay with you long after you finish. Dive in.”—Daily Skimm

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives—and our faith in one another.

Ratings and reviews

9 reviews
Cheryl McCullough
March 19, 2021
A deeply disturbing read, more so with reality interwoven with fiction. It is a book of strength, endurance and yes hope, At times I had to stop and gather up my tattered heart and go on. I am not a fan of going back and forth in time, it always disorients me, I understand the sharing of one scene provides back ground and understanding for the other, but it takes me out of one moment and throws me into the past. Thank you for sharing the statistics and for sharing your words. It is a real problem, lets stop sweeping it under the rug, Thank you Paula McLain, Ballentine Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this arc. I freely volunteer my thoughts and opinions.
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Joelle Egan
July 4, 2021
Anna Hart attempts to make amends for some unexplained guilt in her personal life in When the Stars Go Dark. Paula McLain’s latest novel follows the missing person detective as she retreats to her old foster family home. She is supposed to be on leave, but her respite is short-lived when she discovers that her hometown has experienced linked disappearances of young women. As a distraction to her own woes, Anna convinces the lead investigator (and old friend) to allow her to act as an “unofficial consultant” on the most recent case. Her growing obsession with the investigation reflects her desperate quest for absolution and reparation, but the reader will not find out what is burdening her until the very end of the novel. When Stars Go Dark also recalls the non-fictional case of Polly Klaas from 1994. Linking a real example with her own fictitious ones, McLain illustrates how current advances in technology and methodology would have greatly helped in solving the Klaas case. This book would be a good pick for a true-crime devotee looking to dip their toes into fictionalized rendering of real life events. Thanks to the author, Ballantine and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
1 person found this review helpful
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April 13, 2021
I received a free Advanced Readers Copy of this excellent police procedural from Netgalley, Paula McLain, and Ballantine Books. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Paula McLain brings us engaging entertainment every pop out of the box. When the Stars Go Dark is a modern novel, rather than her historical novels of the past, but it is an in-depth dive into life just as we expect from her. Anna is a detective with the San Francisco Police Department, renowned for her work with missing persons. After a family tragedy, Anna is encouraged by her boss to take unlimited bereavement leave, and she is asked to leave their home by her grieving husband. Adrift in central California, Anna instinctively returns to her childhood 'home', Mendocino. After a youth spent bouncing around in the foster care system of California, Anna lucked out with foster family Hap and Eden Strater. A Forest Ranger, Hap taught Anna all he could about the wilderness, while Eden taught her all she knew about love and home and family. They are both gone now, but Mendocino is still the home of her heart. And on day two, she finds herself involved in the disappearance of a series of missing teenage girls, all residents of the county of Mendocino though only the latest a resident of the town. Cameron Curtis is the daughter of a well-known movie star and disappeared two nights ago in the middle of the night. Cameron is most likely not a run-away. And work she can handle is just what Anna needed to take her mind off of her own losses. And just what long-time friend and now Sheriff Will Flood needed, consultation with a pro, currently on leave in his bailiwick. He needs Anna to look at the patterns of the cases of the missing teens over the last months with her experienced eyes. Anna needs desperately to be needed, needs to save these girls. Her very grip on life might depend on it.
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About the author

Paula McLain is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Love and Ruin, Circling the Sun, The Paris Wife, and A Ticket to Ride, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio with her family.

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