Book review: Under A Dark Sky

Lori Rader-Day, whose previous work “Little Pretty Things” won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, has another book “Under a Dark Sky” (William Morrow, 388 pages) which combines a touch of astronomy with a classic mystery genre.

On what would have been her 10th wedding anniversary, newly widowed Eden Wallace heads to the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan, to the

Straits Point International Dark Sky Park, for a week of sky watching.

But since her husband’s death in a car accident, Eden has developed an intense nyctophobia or fear of darkness and has been sleeping with lights turned on.

To her dismay, she finds herself sharing a cottage with six other friends who seem to be celebrating the fifth anniversary of their college graduation.

In short order, Eden discovers that there are tensions among the supposed friends.

Things take a very dark turn as one of the six friends, Malloy, is murdered with a screwdriver stuck in his neck. Eden is sure that one of the remaining five friends is a cold-blooded killer.

Reminiscent of the Agatha Christie classic, “And Then There Were None,” violence takes one after another. The attractive young Paris “falls” from the top of a staircase, after the railing had been tampered with. Another friend, Dev is poisoned.

While sleuthing out their secrets, Eden uncovers heart-wrenching secret of her own – that her supposed anniversary celebration of this trip to a night sky resort was actually meant for her husband’s secret girlfriend.

Lori Rader-Day blends the classic Christie formula of an interesting, but secluded, place housing a group of people whose secrets serve as the motive for murder.

To this background or the less than palatial manor home, one can add a tip to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, as Lori Rader-Day’s heroine is stymied by her own phobias and handicap (e.g. “Vertigo” and “Rear Window”) as she struggles to solve the mystery.

Michigan readers will be interested to know that the Straits Point International Dark Sky Park is based on the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City.