Thief of Souls

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Dan Behr is an ordinary guy - a young architect and family man - who thinks himself lucky beyond belief that as beautiful a woman as Alexandra could be his wife, and that they could have so perfect a little girl as six-year-old Hana. But Dan Behr's luck is about to change. It begins when Alexandra goes to a weekend retreat with a seemingly harmless spiritual group whose meetings she has been casually attending. Only this time she does not come back. When Dan tries to find his wife, he can neither penetrate the ...
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Dan Behr is an ordinary guy - a young architect and family man - who thinks himself lucky beyond belief that as beautiful a woman as Alexandra could be his wife, and that they could have so perfect a little girl as six-year-old Hana. But Dan Behr's luck is about to change. It begins when Alexandra goes to a weekend retreat with a seemingly harmless spiritual group whose meetings she has been casually attending. Only this time she does not come back. When Dan tries to find his wife, he can neither penetrate the group's premises nor break through the legal barriers they have erected around their activities. Devastated and obsessed by the mystery of Alexandra's disappearance, Dan struggles to hold his life together and raise his daughter. Things cannot get worse - but they do. As he peels back the secret layers of his wife's past, the cult reaches out to complete its destruction of Dan's world by abducting little Hana and making her one of its own. Dan Behr is no longer an ordinary guy. He will do and risk anything to save his child, even if it means entering the cult's fortified compound alone and unarmed. Even if it means laying himself open to the spell cast by the mesmerizing leader who has enslaved the minds of so many followers. But as he descends into a nightmare world of spiritual corruption, sexual seduction, and paralyzing fear, Dan Behr discovers that before he can save his daughter, he must first save himself.

The bestselling author of Criminal Seduction and Bone Deep plummets readers into a frightening realm of psychological manipulation and mortal terror. Just as Dan Behr gets used to the idea that his wife has abandoned him and is not coming back, his six-year-old daughter is kidnapped. For his daughter's sake, Dan can only hope the kidnapper is his ex. 512 pp. National radio ads. National publicity. 60,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
We must be aware of the deceptive methods cults use," warns Darian North, author of Criminal Seduction, Bone Deep, and now Thief of Souls, a chilling new thriller that attempts to disentangle the web of deception cast by cults over unwitting victims. North diligently researched this sensitive and timely subject and came away with poignant, firsthand accounts of the power that cults wield over their followers, and the residue that clings to members who attempt to escape. "In addition to talking with deprogrammers, exit counselors, and experts in the field," writes North, "I spent a lot of time talking to cult victims — the ex-members who are out there trying to overcome the trauma and put their lives back together. All of them were frightened of retribution but willing to share their horror stories in the hope that it might help others."

Out of this extensive interviewing comes Thief of Souls. North's third novel involves the Behr family, frighteningly similar to any ordinary family on the block. Dan Behr considers himself fortunate, with a beautiful wife and an adorable young daughter. Life seems almost perfect, and Dan thinks little of the spiritual group meetings that his wife Alexandra has been casually attending — until one day she does not return from a weekend retreat, and inexplicably vanishes from the life she knew and the family she loved.

Dan Behr is devastated, determined to get his wife back but defenseless against the complicated legal and residential blockades that the religious cult has erected around itself. After swallowing his wife,thecult has made it next to impossible to trace her whereabouts. Then, just as Dan begins to recover from the grief of Alexandra's loss, someone reaches out and snatches Hana, the Behr's six-year-old daughter, and the stage is set for a harrowing, panicked nightmare. Suspecting the cult, Dan Behr has to find a way inside the seemingly impenetrable barriers of the religious radicals, and once inside, resist the tremendously alluring methods of seduction and brain-washing that so many others have succumbed to before him, submitting themselves to manipulative physical and psychological abuse.

In my book," writes the author, "I try to take readers into that netherworld and make them feel the seduction of a cult." Indeed, on the eve of a new millennium, when the actions of separatists and cult members have captured the attention of the media and the minds of the public, Darian North delivers a thriller all the more chilling because of how alarmingly it rings all too true.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this disappointing thriller from the author of Bone Deep and Criminal Seduction, Dan Behr, a 30-year-old junior architect at a big Manhattan firm, learns from a violent, ultra-conservative cult that his family and home life are not as they seemed. On a Sunday, Dan drives from his office into Greenwich Village to pick up his psychologically fragile wife, Alex, a woman so devastatingly beautiful she has been "haunted all her life by her own image." To his shock, he learns that Alex, whom he assumed was at a three-day spiritual retreat, was in fact participating in a brainwashing session. Now she is under guard in an armed compound and refuses to speak to him. As Dan struggles ineffectually to free her from her slavish enthrallment to a fundamentalist cult called the Ark, Alex takes the family car, withdraws all their savings, maxes out their credit cards and abandons their young daughter, Hana. When cult members abduct the little girl, Dan infiltrates the Ark, facing the same tactics that have paralyzed the will of so many others. North's prose is often clumsy, and her plot strains credulity. Even so, her depiction of cult psychology and of ritualistic secret evils is scary, even fascinating, and her brisk pacing and dire scenario will tug readers along. The novel's great weakness, though, is its protagonist, who seems so oblivious to the facts of his own life and to those around him that it's hard to cheer his metamorphosis from everyman to hero. 60,000 first printing. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Edgar Award finalist North returns with this troubling story of a young woman, left comatose and pregnant after a brutal attack, who must confront her past when the son born of that attack, now 13, starts asking about his father. Look for a teaser chapter in the forthcoming paperback editor of Thief of Souls (Signet. ISBN 0-451-18896-9. pap. $5.95).
Kirkus Reviews
A New York architect's life is turned upside-down when his wife is swallowed up by a New Age cult.

From their very first meeting, when Dan Behr rescued Alexandra Vaughn from a suicide attempt, their life together had always had a dreamlike quality. Dan could never believe a woman as beautiful as Alex could be initially so sad, so lonely, and so attracted to him. But when Alex, away for the weekend on a retreat in a Greenwich Village brownstone, vanishes into the bowels of a cult called the Ark, Dan slowly realizes how much he never knew about Alex all these years. He didn't know she was once a top model who hated her looks; he didn't know she was still in touch with her manipulative yet remote mother Valerie; he didn't know that in important ways her life continued to be a nightmare from which only unquestioning obedience to an authority figure could save her. Now the nightmare is Dan's, as he scrambles to hang onto his job and take care of his five-year-old daughter, Hana, while also figuring out how to retrieve Alex from the Ark's clutches. Rejecting the cautionary advice of gentle psychologist Laura Ferren, he hires militant deprogrammer Everett May, with predictably disastrous results. In the aftermath of the rescue attempt, Dan settles into a hopeful new life, finally accepting the love Laura's been offering him from the beginning. But this dream is shattered too when Ark members return to grab Hana, and Dan decides that the only way to get his daughter back is to enter the Ark himself, prompting a series of movielike tableaux of indoctrination, torture, and climactic explosions.

North (Bone Deep, 1995, etc.) is heartrendingly precise in evoking Dan's despair as he goes through the motions of his life without Alex. It's only when the story shifts gears—especially when Dan enters the belly of the beast to confront the huckster messiah—that tension and conviction falter.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780766999435
  • Publisher: World Publications, Inc. MA
  • Publication date: 1/15/2000

Interviews & Essays

Before the live chat, Darian North agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q:  Did you always want to write the types of books that you are writing?

A:  When I was young I wanted to write poetry and short stories so I can't say always. But after I finally made the mental leap into novelist, the answer is yes. The books I am writing are exactly what I want to write and what I hunger to read -- complex mystery/suspense novels in which the characters are deeply explored and the plot grows out of the characters and their moral dilemmas. Provoking thought is important to me. Authenticity is also very important to me. Maybe I am just a frustrated teacher. I research as if I'm doing a nonfiction book, then, whatever the subject (forensic anthropology, cherry growing in California, a New York murder trial, or cult methodology and psychology) I try to lead my reader into the heart of it.

Q:  Which authors do you like to read?

A:  I am a voracious reader. Robert Olen Butler, Colin Harrison, Susanna Moore, Nelson DeMille, Kate Green, Barbara Parker, Mitchell Smith, Michael Kimball, Leo Tolstoy, Ross Macdonald, Charles MacLean, and Stephen Greenleaf are contemporary fiction authors I have enjoyed recently. I also read a lot of true crime, biography, poetry, and everything you can imagine in nonfiction.

Q:  What kind of people do cults attract?

A:  Cults do not "attract." They actively hunt recruits, preying on unsuspecting people who are lonely, bored, or simply curious. College students are a common target because this is an uncertain time in which people are questioning beliefs and searching for their place in the world.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2000

    Captivating Page Turner

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I pulled me in from the beginning and I could not put it down - superb character development, twisting plot, entertaining and well written with satifying ending. I highly recommend this book - it was a page turner and enlightened me with regard to the cult underworld!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2000

    Fabulous Book!

    Captivating book from start to finish! Superb character development and twisting plot that made it a definite page turner! Well written with satisfying ending - highly recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    Too hot to put down... A real page turner

    This is the second book by Darian North that I have read. The first was Violation. Theif of Souls is definately too hot to put down I wish that I could give it more than 5 stars. The way that North just pulls you into his books is amazing. North makes you feel like a part of the book, like one of the characters. I have already purchased Criminal Seduction and I can not wait to start reading it. I am now a die hard Darian North fan. Any book that North writes will definately become part of my library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2000

    Coming Close To Home

    In my opinion North did a exceptional job writting this novel. I can really realate to the situation in which had been presented. I was so absored in the book almost every page sent chills up my spine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2009

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