The Wilderness (Leslie Stone Series #3)

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Overview

Read the dark and thrilling new Leslie Stone novel that asks the question: Can violence and its legacy ever be absolved?

When the body of an elderly man is found naked, frozen to death on the grounds of an abandoned petting zoo near where private investigator Leslie Stone lives with her family, the discovery triggers what Leslie calls the "haunted amusement park" of her mind. Voices and apparitions she knows to be hallucinatory disrupt her waking world. And she is unable to ...

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The Wilderness: A Novel

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Overview

Read the dark and thrilling new Leslie Stone novel that asks the question: Can violence and its legacy ever be absolved?

When the body of an elderly man is found naked, frozen to death on the grounds of an abandoned petting zoo near where private investigator Leslie Stone lives with her family, the discovery triggers what Leslie calls the "haunted amusement park" of her mind. Voices and apparitions she knows to be hallucinatory disrupt her waking world. And she is unable to forget that the old man has left behind what seems like a riddle: an odd drawing and a children's poem with a shifting meaning, titled "The Wilderness."

Compelled to find out what happened, Leslie finds her search interlacing with that of investigative journalist Sophia Mallory, who is tracing her personal path through the historical tragedy of slavery and its aftermath. Together they uncover a pattern of institutionalized violence so brutal, so inexplicable, that it resembles a curse. As "The Wilderness" leads each woman deeper into the past, it also leads them deeper into their own psyches, forcing them to question their motives for solving a mystery which threatens to destroy the lives of everyone they love.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Novak is a spiral thinker and an imaginative storyteller, so while the dense narrative is apt to wander off like a child picking berries in the woods, individual scenes of horror stand their ground with the frightful intensity of a bad dream.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In Novak's third broodingly introspective novel featuring Leslie Stone, the troubled former New York City cop who became a PI specializing in missing children finds herself primarily playing the role of an alienated smalltown wife and mother of two daughters, struggling to keep her marriage alive and to maintain a handle on her mental illness. But duty and domesticity take a backseat when news of the discovery of a body at an abandoned petting zoo sparks a fleeting hallucination of a peacock and Leslie's morbid, insatiable interest. No one claims the body, and Leslie's need to learn more is fired by the artfully written papers the old man left behind. She takes a trip to the zoo site, sees strange visions and ends up frostbitten, confused and in a psych ward, questioning her ability to maintain a normal life. Haunted by the graffiti of a peacock, a child's rhyme scrawled on the walls of the cabin and the air of dark mystery that surrounds the death of the old man, Leslie becomes more and more frenzied. A journalist with ties to the case provides crucial information, and soon an old flame resurfaces. Claustrophobic despite its shifting points of view (Leslie's daughters; her husband), Novak's novel repels and fascinates with its story of a woman's single-minded obsession. Agent, Elizabeth Sheinkman. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A very private private investigator does everything to get to the bottom of an apparent murder, even when it includes ruining her family. In her third Leslie Stone outing, Novak (Ordinary Monsters, 2002, etc.) tries to see what else she can do to this ex-cop, ex-mental patient, and soon-to-be ex-wife. Stone was drummed out of the force years ago for a bad shooting and has been having psychological problems ever since, including (but not limited to) severe hallucinations. Until recently, she scratched together work as a private investigator, but that's mostly dried up now, and she's mainly just trying to keep her frayed family together. This isn't easy, as both her girls and Greg, her painfully victim-prone husband, don't exactly trust her to keep healthy, get a steady job, and act normal. Their lack of trust is validated when she gets swept up, for no good reason other than her own dark curiosity, into a case involving an old homeless man, James Kendrick, found dead in a nearby amusement park. Despite repeated entreaties from Greg to give up and drop the case, Stone begins hallucinating again and loses whole days obsessing over the minutely detailed drawings and writings left by Kendrick. Although there are gothic oddities aplenty in Stone's world, it's in the rather mundane details of her deteriorating life that Novak really excels: the hallucinations, memories of a violent past, hints of ghosts and curses. She takes a scalpel to the way that long-simmering lovers will bait each other into dead-end arguments, laying out the slash-and-burn weaponry of loving hate. And she gives Stone at least one great line, in describing a man she had an affair with as "who the devil wants to be when thedevil grows up." Still, for the most part, bringing little mystery and less revelation, The Wilderness is a barely engaging story about a less-than-interesting obsessive whose narcissistic selfishness becomes harder to swallow with each chapter. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman/Elaine Markson Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582344836
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 1/10/2005
  • Series: Leslie Stone Series , #3
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Novak is the author of two other Leslie Stone novels, File Mile House and Innocence, as well as Ordinary Monsters. She lives in Mason, Ohio.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2012

    Once again - great book, bed editing.

    I would sell my mother to be able to edit the typos out of this book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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