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Invisible Boy (Madeline Dare Series #3)
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Invisible Boy (Madeline Dare Series #3)

3.4 15
by Cornelia Read

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The smart-mouthed but sensitive runaway socialite Madeline Dare is shocked when she discovers the skeleton of a brutalized three-year-old boy in her own weed-ridden family cemetery outside Manhattan. Determined to see that justice is served to the perpetrators, Madeline finds herself examining her own troubled personal history, and the sometimes hidden, sometimes


The smart-mouthed but sensitive runaway socialite Madeline Dare is shocked when she discovers the skeleton of a brutalized three-year-old boy in her own weed-ridden family cemetery outside Manhattan. Determined to see that justice is served to the perpetrators, Madeline finds herself examining her own troubled personal history, and the sometimes hidden, sometimes all-too-public class and racial warfare that penetrates every level of society in the savage streets of New York City during the early 1990s. She is aided in her efforts by a colorful assemblage of friends, relatives, and new acquaintances, each one representing a separate strand of the patchwork mosaic city politicians like to brag about. The result is a gripping narrative that relates the causes and consequences of a vicious crime to the wider relationships that connect and divide us all. In INVISIBLE BOY Cornelia Read depicts, with sensitivity, eloquence, and powerful emotion, the unstable fault lines of family, friendship, and society at large.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
That well-bred voice cursing a blue streak in Invisible Boy can belong only to Madeline Dare, the renegade socialite from Oyster Bay, Long Island, who solves murders and spits venom in Cornelia Read's offbeat mysteries.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Set in 1990, Read’s superb third Madeline Dare novel (after The Crazy School) finds the acid-tongued ex-socialite and her blue-collar husband, Dean, in Manhattan. A chance encounter with distant cousin Cate Ludlam introduces Madeline to Queens’ Prospect Cemetery, where Cate is in charge of the volunteer cleanup effort. While helping to clear weeds, Madeline unearths a small skeleton, which turns out to be that of three-year-old Teddy Underhill, reported missing months earlier. Accustomed to snooping around police investigations, Madeline hounds the lead detective in charge for answers, and soon learns that Teddy was a victim of regular physical abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. Read expertly evokes the New York City of the period, from the nearly palpable grime of Chelsea to disturbing undertones of racism and classism in the justice system. Equal parts toughness and vulnerability, Madeline is always a bracing heroine. (Mar.)

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Madeline Dare Series , #3
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Invisible Boy

By Read, Cornelia

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Read, Cornelia
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446511346


September 1990


So here’s what I love about New York City: if someone acts like a dumb asshole and you call them on acting like a dumb asshole, the bystanders are happy about it.

Anywhere else I’ve ever lived they just think I’m a bitch.

Also, in Manhattan the Chinese food is excellent and they deliver, which to me counts as pretty much the acme of human achievement, to date. Especially with free cold sesame noodles.

I’m sorry, but if you pick up your phone and all you can get them to bring you for sustenance is crappy lukewarm national-chain pizza, you do not live in civilization.

Having just spent four years out in what is euphemistically known as “the heartland,” I was overjoyed to be back in the city of my birth.

It was an early fall day and totally gorgeous out, and my mother and I were walking down lower Sixth Avenue. We were supposed to be picking up a cake for a party that night, and I was in a most excellent mood.

Mom looked like she’d rather be weeding something or moving piles of rocks around or one of those other kinds of strenuous activities one gets up to out in the country.

“Must be this one,” she said, pointing toward a slightly ratty bakery on the opposite side of the street from us, just above Waverly Place.

We sprinted across Sixth against the light, Mom leading the way. She hadn’t actually lived in Manhattan since 1965, but some habits die hard.

There was this brittle-looking skinny faux-blonde chick standing next to the bakery’s door. Her makeup was kabuki/stewardess, and she teetered atop painfully chic Bergdorf-bitch slingbacks.

I wondered anew why some women were so desperate to wear “fuck-me” shoes. I have long preferred “fuck- you shoes.”

Faux-blonde chick pulled the door open but then just stood there, like she was appalled to realize she might for once actually ingest something besides diuretics and a half-stalk of celery.

Mom, meanwhile, ran a hand through her own short, dark hair and breezed in past her.

Stunned at this effrontery, the woman sniped, “So what am I now, a doorman?”

Oh for chrissake, lady, get the hell over yourself.

As she was still just standing there, I muttered, “What, you got some problem with doormen?” and strode on inside myself.

The bakery’s interior was dark compared to the sidewalk’s mellow late-summer bloom of light. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust, so I just sucked in the scents of butter and vanilla perfuming the small establishment.

Mom asked about our party cake up at the display counter while a gang of confectionary aficionados sampled tortes and bombes and éclairs at a dozen tiny tables crowded together along the black-and-white-tiled floor.

Just as the proprietress set a pink box on the countertop in front of my mother, I felt a set of Flintstones-pterodactyl claws latch on to my shoulder.

The now-even-more-pissed-off door-lady yanked me around to shriek, “You bitch!” right in my face—so close I got nailed with a constellation of spit flecks.

“Um,” I said, trying to back off a little, “I beg your pardon?”

She gripped my shoulder harder and started jabbing me in the chest with a bony finger. “Who. The. Hell.” Poke. Poke. Poke. “Do you think you are?”

The final poke practically broke her french-manicured nail off, right in the middle of the LEFTY’S TATTOO AND PIERCING, CHULA VISTA logo on my best secondhand black T-shirt.

“I think I’m Madeline Ludlam Fabyan Dare,” I said, raising my chin to look down my nose at her. “Why?”

“Bitch!” spat my scrawny nemesis, redundantly.

All the people at the little tables were watching now, pastry-loaded forks paused in midair.

Aware of our audience, psycho-babe dropped her hands from my person and just stood there, fists clenched, vibrating like an irate tuning fork.

“Oh, please,” I said. “Like it’s the end of the fucking world if you held the door for someone?”

Her right hand came back up, finger extended. “You!” Poke. “Need!” Poke. “To change!” Poke-poke. “Your goddamn attitude!” PokepokePOKEpoke.

She drove me backwards toward the counter’s plate-glass front, behind which rested a stage-lit panorama of buttercream whimsy.

I snapped my hand around her wimpy little calcium-deprived wrist before she could finger-stab me again.

“And you,” I said, tightening my grip, “need to change your goddamn medication.”

A couple of onlookers started laughing.

I let go of her wrist. The witch teetered once on those nasty stilettos before dropping her head and scuttling away.

The door banged open, then whooshed closed.

A big rough-looking guy at a tiny corner table raised his foam cup of espresso toward me in appreciation, and the rest of the patrons dropped their forks for a round of applause.

Mom stepped up beside me bearing the pink cake box, now tied shut with red-and-white baker’s twine.

“Dude,” I said, grinning at her, “I fucking love New York.”


Excerpted from Invisible Boy by Read, Cornelia Copyright © 2010 by Read, Cornelia. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Cornelia Read grew up in New York, California, and Hawaii. She is a reformed debutante who currently lives in New Hampshire. To learn more about the author, you can visit her website at www.corneliaread.com, and www.nakedauthors.com, her group blog with authors Jim Born, Paul Levine, Patty Smiley, and Jacqueline Winspear.

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Invisible Boy (Madeline Dare Series #3) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Slessman More than 1 year ago
INVISIBLE BOY Cornelia Read Grand Central Publishing ISBN: 978-0-446-51134-6 $24.99 - Hardback 432 pages Reviewer: Annie Slessman If you read The Crazy School by Cornelia Read then you already know that Cornelia Read is a master storyteller. In INVISIBLE BOY, Cornelia takes Madeline Dare on a new adventure in New York City set in the early 1990's. Madeline, while helping friend, Cate, clean up a historical cemetery discovers the skeleton of a three year old boy whose chest is caved in from a brutal beating. This discovery leads her to a new friendship with a woman police officer and the rediscovery of an old college buddy. Interwoven into this story is Madeline's strange friendship with her college friend, Astrid. Astrid, the beautiful, has just married Christoph who has offered Madeline's unemployed husband a position with his firm. Astrid's strange behavior takes on a new high after her marriage to Christoph and Madeline finds herself caught between her loyalty to her husband and her friendship with Astrid. This is not a simple story. Rather it is one that is complex and thought provoking. Read combines the interesting elements in human nature, relationships and civic responsibility and threads them into one bracing novel. There is something for everyone in this work and I can understand why it was chosen for publication. Few writers today can weave such a complex story and yet, provide reading that will span age and educational barriers. Cornelia Read lives is New Hampshire and can be visited on her website at www.corneliaread.com.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1990 in Manhattan, former socialite Madeline Dare is happy with her marriage to blue-collar Dean though she does not like their dumpy Union Square apartment that she and her spouse share with her sister and their friend. Still she does not miss her former lifestyle of the rich and socially Mayflower prominence nor her exile to the Berkshires as she accepts being poor. Madeline runs into her distant cousin Cate Ludlam, who is leading a clean-up of Prospect Cemetery in Queens. Unable to say no, Madeline is drafted to pull weed duty. However, she finds the skeletal remains of a young child, who turns out to be missing three years old Teddy Underhill. Refusing to stay out of the NYPD inquiry, Madeline learns that the little boy was an abuse victim of his mother and her boyfriend. Unlike The Crazy School or A Field of Darkness amateur sleuthing stints, Invisible Boy is more a condemning look at society that is run by class status, heritage elitism and racial stereotyping; as justice is not blind to the affluent or the poor albeit treated differently. Readers will appreciate Madeline's daring exploits in Manhattan and Queens as she refuses to back down from a system that enables a three year old to be discarded. Harriet Klausner
jasonlee3071 More than 1 year ago
While the book is well written I did not find it up to my expectations as a mystery fan. For one thing the author spends too much time and too many words describing the main heroine's issues  her mother and boyfriend, her friends and their issues. along with other things. I felt this book could have been and should have been shorter if she left out so many irrelevant details and  info that strayed away from the main part of the story. The main plot here being solving the murder of a 3 year old  kid whose remains have been found in an old cemetary. Rather this story seems more focused and about the  heroine Madeline's issues and her likes and dislikes than anything else. I prefer reading something that  concentrates more on the main theme or issue rather than those of the protagonists involved.  For this reason I did not finish reading this because I found it tiresome after awhile. I prefer reading a good mystery or crime thriller that stays focused on the main point which in this case is the murder or crime itself and the hero  or heroine's attempt to bring it to a close. Without having to spend too many pages away talking about her social life  and that of her friends along with their tastes in shopping ,food,boyfriends etc. While some of this may be necessary  as part of the background of the characters involved I don't feel I should have to read thru 4 or 5 chapeters full of this without any mention of the main theme or what should be the main theme of the whole story.  After reading this I think I will go back to reading another Ian Rutledge novel by Charles Todd or The  Temprance Brennan series by Kathy Reich. 
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gl More than 1 year ago
Invisible Boy is the third of Cornelia Read's stories involving the quirky, struggling socialite Madeline Dare. Unlike The Crazy School which is part amateur mystery, Invisible Boy is largely focused on Madeline Dare, her family and her life which I found to be a more interesting read. From the earlier novels, we know that Madeline Dare's family ranks high in the Social Register and that her Mayflower legacy largely trumps her current poor financial situation. Though Madeline shares a cramped and no-frills (read: slightly rundown) apartment off of Union Square with her husband, her sister Pagan and her friend Sue, her connections and legacy still open doors. While she faces slights and snubs, Madeline handles things with her brand of grace and humor. I found Cornelia Reed's description of old prep school friendships especially effective and added to my appreciation and understanding of Madeline. Madeline's sense of justice also comes across well in Invisible Boy; she is willing to face all sorts of risks to bring Teddy Underhill's killers to justice. Overall, I liked enjoyed Invisible Boy. This third story reveals more of Madeline Dare's history and personality, which works to her advantage. ISBN-10: 044651134X - Hardcover Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 30, 2010), 432 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.