One of our recommended books is Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

GATHERING DARK


Gathering Dark is a new standalone thriller set in Los Angeles from #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Candice Fox.

A convicted killer. A gifted thief. A vicious ganglord. A disillusioned cop. Together they’re a missing girl’s only hope.

Dr. Blair Harbour, once a wealthy, respected pediatric surgeon, is now an ex-con down on her luck. She’s determined to keep her nose clean and win back custody of her son. But when her former cellmate begs for help to find her missing daughter, Blair is compelled to put her new-found freedom on the line.

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Gathering Dark is a new standalone thriller set in Los Angeles from #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Candice Fox.

A convicted killer. A gifted thief. A vicious ganglord. A disillusioned cop. Together they’re a missing girl’s only hope.

Dr. Blair Harbour, once a wealthy, respected pediatric surgeon, is now an ex-con down on her luck. She’s determined to keep her nose clean and win back custody of her son. But when her former cellmate begs for help to find her missing daughter, Blair is compelled to put her new-found freedom on the line.

Detective Jessica Sanchez has always had a difficult relationship with the LAPD. And her inheritance of a multi-million dollar mansion as a reward for catching a killer has just made her police enemy number one.

It’s been ten years since Jessica arrested Blair for cold-blooded murder. So when Jessica opens the door to the disgraced doctor late one night she expects abuse, maybe even violence. What comes next is a plea for help…

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  • Forge Books
  • Hardcover
  • March 2021
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781250317636

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$27.99

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About Candice Fox

Candice Fox is the author of Gathering DarkAward-winning author Candice Fox is the author of Crimson Lake. She is also co-writer with James Patterson of the #1 New York Times bestseller Never, Never; Black & Blue; and Liar, Liar. She lives in Sydney.

Praise

“Candice Fox has written an addictive, compulsive novel that’s not just about a missing girl, it’s about the power of redemption and forgiveness. One of the best crime novels I’ve read this year.” —Samantha Downing, USA Today bestselling author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It

“If you haven’t read Candice Fox yet, you’re missing out! I can’t wait to read what this talented writer does next!” —Chevy Stevens

“A bright new star of crime fiction.” —James Patterson

“Definitely a writer to watch.” —Harlan Coben

“Sign me up as a big-time Fox fan!” —Lee Child

“A fantastic standalone psychological thriller with compelling characters and an edge of seat ending from Candice Fox—one of our brightest crime fiction stars.” —Adrian McKinty, New York Times bestselling author of The Chain

Discussion Questions

1. The story starts off in a heated moment: the store Blair works at gets robbed. If you were Blair, how would you handle the situation? Would you do the same as her or would you call the police? Why or why not?

2. Jessica is given the life-changing gift of a multi-million dollar home for her tireless work on a murder case gone cold. Yet, she’s against the idea of accepting because the jealousy of her fellow police officers is too much to bear and it jeopardizes her career. But do you think there are deeper reasons as to why Jessica is so opposed to taking ownership of the house? If so, what are those reasons?

3. When Blair needs someone to talk to, she resorts to dialing random numbers and striking up conversation with whoever answers. Why does she find comfort from talking to strangers? What do you think she gains from this? Is there a connection that can be drawn between her desire to talk to strangers and the way she feels like a stranger to her own child?

4. Jessica struggles with being abandoned—by her partner in her time of need and by her colleagues at the station—and this abandonment is made increasingly difficult because she views the police as her family. Where do her struggles with abandonment stem from? Why is it so important for her to be part of this fabricated familial unit?

5. Ada explains to Blair how she witnessed Dayly saving a baby pigeon on the side of a highway. It was small, alone, bleeding, hungry, and dehydrated. Aside from her love for animals, why do you think Dayly was so compelled to save this pigeon? Do you think that the wounded baby bird is a metaphor?

6. Jessica is hell-bent on figuring out if she was wrong about Blair’s case all those years ago. But Blair has since served her time and has been reintroduced into society on parole. Why is Jessica so focused on figuring out if she made a mistake or not? What difference will it make at this point in time?

7. Prior to going missing, Dayly was straight-laced and didn’t get into trouble. But then she decides to communicate with her father—a convict on death row for mass murder. Why do you feel she’s drawn to have a relationship with him? Does this seem out of character for her? What do you think her ulterior motive is?

8. Blair is in a tough position with Ada, even as she aids their cause. While Jessica is against Ada helping because she feels Ada is only in it for money, Blair has faith that Ada is helping out because she owes her for when Blair saved the life of her family member back when they were in prison. Would you trust Ada in this situation? Why or why not? Do you think she’s just in it for the money or because she’s repaying her debt to Blair?

9. Blair relies on Jessica to be her inside contact with the police and to help her and Sneak find Dayly. But Jessica is the one who put Blair behind bars for an act she claims was done in self-defense. If Jessica was wrong about Blair’s own case, why does Blair think Jessica will be a reliable source in this investigation? Is it simply out of desperation or something more?

10. Blair often notes how following Sneak’s siren call and investigating the whereabouts of Dayly is dangerous enough to get everything taken away from her all over again. She refers to it as “the fall” and “the backwards plunge;” moments in which she edges close enough to danger that she can visualize her life and her freedom slipping away from her. Why do you think Blair is inexplicably drawn to this kind of danger? Do you think she fears losing Jamie for good? If so, why does she still risk helping Sneak even if it means she could lose what’s most important to her?

Guide written by Ariana N. Carpentieri

Excerpt

BLAIR

I looked up into the eye of a gun. She’d been that quiet. That fast. At the edge of my vision I’d half seen a figure pass the front window of the Pump’n’Jump gas station, a shadow-walker blur against the red sunset and silhouetted palm trees. That was it. She stuck the gun in my face before the buzzer had finished the one-note song that announced her, made her real. The gun was shaking, a bad thing made somehow worse. I put down the pen I’d been using to fill out the crossword.

Deep regret: Remorse. Maybe the last word I would ever write. One I was familiar with.

I spread my fingers flat on the counter, between the bowl of spotted bananas at a dollar a piece and the two-for-one Clark Bars.

“Don’t scream,” the girl said.

As I let my eyes move from the gun to her, all I could see was trouble. There was sweat and blood on her hand, on the finger that was sliding down the trigger, trying to find traction. The safety switch was off. The arm that held the weapon was thin and reedy, would soon get tired from holding a gun that clearly wasn’t hers, was too heavy. The face beyond the arm was the sickly purple-gray of a fresh corpse. She had a nasty gash in her forehead that was so deep I could see bone. Fingerprints in blood on her neck, also too big to be her own.

Screaming would have been a terrible idea. If I startled her, that slippery finger was going to jerk on the trigger and blow my brains all over the cigarette cabinet behind me. I didn’t want to be wasted in my stupid uniform, my hat emblazoned with a big pink kangaroo and the badge on my chest that truthfully read “Blair” but lied “I love to serve!” I had a flash of distracted thought, wondering what my young son, Jamie, would wear to my funeral. I knew he had a suit. He’d worn it to my parole hearing.

“Whoa,” I said, both an expression of surprise and a request.

“Empty the register.” The girl put out her hand and glanced through the window. The parking lot was empty. “And give me the keys to the car.”

“My car?” I touched my chest, making her reel backward, grip the gun tighter. I counseled myself not to move so fast or ask stupid questions. My bashed-up Honda was the only car visible, at the edge of the lot, parked under a billboard. Idris Elba with a watch that cost two college funds.

“Car, cash,” the girl said. Her teeth were locked. “Now, bitch.”

“Listen,” I said slowly. For a moment I commanded the room. The burrito freezer hummed gently. The lights behind the plastic face of the slushie machine made tinkling noises. “I can help you.”

Even as I said the words, I felt like an idiot. Once, I’d been able to help people. Sick children and their terrified parents. I’d worn surgical scrubs and suits; no kangaroos, no bullshit badges. But between then and now I’d worn a prison uniform, and my ability to help anyone had been sucked away.

The girl shuffled on her feet, waved the gun to get me moving. “Fuck you and your help. I don’t need it. I need to get out of here.”

“If you just—”

My words were cut off by a blast of light. The sound came after, a pop in my eardrums, a whump of pressure in my head as the bullet ripped past me, too close. She’d blown a hole in the Marlboro dispenser, just over my right shoulder. Burned tobacco and melted plastic in the air. My ears ringing. The gun came back to me.

“Okay,” I said. “Okay.”

I went to the register, snuck a sideways look at her. Gold curls. A small, almost button nose. There was something vaguely familiar about her, but during my time in prison I’d probably cast my eye over a thousand troubled, edgy, angry kids who knew their way around a handgun. I took the keys from the cup beside the machine.

“This is a cartel-owned gas station,” I said. I realized my hands were shaking. Soon I’d be sweating, panting, teeth chattering. My terror came on slowly. I’d trained it that way. “You should know that. You hit a place like this and they’ll come for you and your family. You can take the car, but—”

“Shut up.”

“They’ll come after you,” I said. I unlocked the register. She laughed. I glanced sideways at her as I scooped out stacks of cash. The laugh wasn’t humor, it was ironic scorn. Something sliced through me, icy and sharp. I looked at the windows before me, at our reflections. She was looking out there, too, into the gathering dark. No one else was visible. We seemed suddenly, achingly alone together and yet terrifyingly not alone. I handed her the cash.

“Someone’s already after you,” I surmised. She gave a single, stiff nod. I slowly took my car keys from my pocket and dropped them into her hand. When the barrel of the gun swept away from me, it was like a clamp loosening from around my windpipe.

I watched her turn and run out of the shop, get in the car, and drive away.

Through the windows, Koreatown at night seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, to become unpaused. Long-haired youths knocked each other around on the corner. A man returning home from work let the newspaper box slap closed, his paper tucked under his arm. The malignant presence I’d felt out there when the girl had been in the store was gone.

I could have called the police. If not to report the robbery, to report a girl running from something or someone with the furious desperation of a hunted animal, a girl out there in the dark, pursued, surviving for who knew how long. But Los Angeles was full of people like that; always had been. A jungle, prey fleeing predators. I’d give the girl a little head start with my car before I reported it missing. I lifted my shirt and wiped the sweat from my face on the hem, trying to regulate my breathing.

My addiction pulsed, a short, sharp desire that made me pick up my phone beside the register, my finger hovering, ready to dial. I forced myself to put the phone down. The clock on the wall said I had an hour left of my shift. I thought about calling Jamie but knew he’d be asleep.

Instead I went to the ATM in the corner of the store. I slipped my card into the machine and extracted four hundred dollars, about the amount I knew the girl had taken. I went back and put the notes in the register. Though I’d never met the gas station’s true owners, I’d known cartel women in the can, and had picked up enough Spanish over the years to eavesdrop on their stories. The girl, whoever she was, didn’t need the San Marino 13s on her tail. Neither did I.

I hardly looked at the ATM receipt before I crumpled it and let it fall into the bin. It was going to be a long walk home.

JESSICA

“Here’s what I don’t understand,” Wallert said. He’d been saying it all day. Listing things he didn’t get. Waiting for people to explain them to him. Jessica guessed they were probably into the triple digits now of things Wallert couldn’t comprehend. “What the hell did you do on the Silver Lake case that I didn’t do?”

She didn’t answer, just looked at Detective Wallert’s bloodshot eyes in the rearview mirror. Jessica hated the back seat of the police cruiser, didn’t belong there. She was used to the side of Wallert’s ugly head, not the back. A biohazard company gave the back seat a proper clean out every month or so, but everybody knew that it never really got clean. The texture of the leather wasn’t right. Gritty in places. But Wallert was looking at her more than he was driving. Combined with the frequent sips of bourbon-spiked coffee from his paper coffee cup, he was eyeing the road about one in every fifteen seconds. In this case, she was in the dirtiest but likely the safest place in the car. Detective Vizchen, who they were babysitting for the night, sniffed in the front passenger seat when Jessica didn’t answer Wallert, as if her silence was insolence.

“I was there,” Wallert continued. They cruised by a bunch of kids standing outside a house pumping music into the night. “I was in the case. I was available to the guy whenever he needed me. Day or night. He knew that. It was me who came up with the lead about the trucker.”

“A lead that went nowhere,” Jessica finally said. “A lead I told you would go nowhere before you began half-heartedly pursuing it. You weren’t of much assistance to Stan Beauvoir the few times he called on you.”

Copyright © 2021 by Candice Fox