For this final Friday in November as you
surface from your Turkey driven coma, I offer you Barry’s Review of Instruments
of Night by Thomas H. Cook. The review originally ran in late 2007 and then
again in 2012, so it has been quite some time since it saw the light of day
here. After you read his review and mosey around here, make sure you ride over
to Patti Abbott’s blog as well as Aubrey
Nye Hamilton’s Happiness Is A Warm Book blog and see what they
suggest today. Be sure to comment with your own FFB reviews and links.
Instruments of Night (1998) by Thomas H. Cook
reviewed by Barry Ergang
Novelist Paul Graves is a man literally haunted by his past. The ghosts of one grim and brutal night invade his thoughts daily, summoned or unbidden, and lend their power to his books.
Raised on a small farm in
In the story's present, a
forty-five-year-old Graves lives a life of self-imposed relative seclusion in
Graves is invited to
Riverwood, an estate in the
Reluctant at first,
What might seem like a dry
historical probe is rendered dramatic by
I should add, for Golden Age fans, that although Instruments of Night is very much a psychological thriller, it's also a fairly-clued mystery. The key clue is extremely subtle and easily overlooked.
I discovered Edgar Allan Poe in early adolescence, William Faulkner in my late teens. What struck me about both of their prose styles was the quality of envelopment: you might be sitting in a riotous, crowded stadium during the Super Bowl or the World Series, but if you were reading one of their stories, you'd feel as though you were alone in inky blackness, aswirl in the story's events. Thomas H. Cook—at least in this novel, the first of his I've read—conveys that same envelopment.
So why am I torn about this book?
It's very well-written, Cook's prose often lyrical. The characters are properly fleshed-out, the pacing spot-on, and the suspense carefully built and sustained.
But its tone is unremittingly
dark. In short stories like Poe's, where uniformity of tone was a goal, that
quality is tolerable. Many of Faulkner's darker novels were occasionally
relieved by moments of levity. Not so Instruments of Night. Cook
With that caveat in place, I can recommend Instruments of Night as worth your time.
For more on the Golden Age follow the link http://gadetection.pbwiki.com/
Barry Ergang © 2007, 2012, 2020
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. Some of it is available at Amazon and at Smashwords. His website is http://www.writetrack.yolasite.com/ where he is available for your editing needs.