A Novel of Terror
By Blake Crouch
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312286446, 272pp.)
Publication Date: January 2004
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Greetings. There is a body buried on your property, covered in your blood. The unfortunate young lady's name is Rita Jones. In her jeans pocket you'll find a slip of paper with a phone number on it. Call that number. If I have not heard from you by 8:00 P.M., the police will receive an anonymous call. I'll tell them where Rita Jones is buried on your property, how you killed her, and where the murder weapon can be found in your house. (I do believe a paring knife is missing from your kitchen.) I strongly advise against going to the police, as I am always watching you.
Dear Reader: Please keep the light on tonight. What happens next will scare you. Guaranteed.
In one of the most chilling debuts of the year, Blake Crouch tells a tale that shatters the boundaries of fear. Caution: You've Been Warned--Read at Your Own Risk!
Andrew Z. Thomas is a successful writer of suspense thrillers, living the dream at his lake house in the piedmont of North Carolina. One afternoon in late spring, he receives a bizarre letter that eventually threatens his career, his sanity, and the lives of everyone he loves. A murderer is designing his future, and for the life of him, Andrew can't get away.
An edge-of-your-seat thriller, Desert Places introduces the American public to a new suspense writer who will be scaring us all for years to come.
Blake Crouch is a recent Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives with his wife in Durango, Colorado, where he is at work on the sequel to Desert Places.
"An ingenious, diabolical debut that calls into question all our easy moral assumptions. Desert Places is a genuine thriller that pulses with adrenaline from start to finish. Blake Crouch is one of the most exciting new writers I've read in years."
- Val McDermid, author of The Last Temptation
"Blake Crouch's terrific but harrowing first novel, Desert Places, is deeply disturbing and troubling but hard to put down. In the end, Mr. Crouch's book reminded me of a whacked out combination of Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy."
- Pat Conroy, author of My Losing Season
"A harrowing, compulsively readable novel, Desert Places throws a spotlight on humans' ability to administer--and withstand--psychological and physical pain. Crouch's taunt, muscular prose and expert plotting make this one tough to set down. You'll read it in a sitting--I certainly did."
- Gregg Hurwitz, author of The Kill Clause
"Gritty, sometimes gruesome, and always gripping. Blake Crouch looks into the dark places inside our heads - you may not always like what you see there, but you won't be able to tear yourself away. An exciting, heartpounding debut."
- Tony Strong, author of The Death Pit
"Crouch shows real talent"
- Publishers Weekly
"Desert Places displays the careful craftsmanship of a talented newcomer to the mystery genre. The interplay between the protagonist and the villain is crisp and clever, and the plot development is relentless. Can't wait for the sequel!"
"A disturbing tale . . . not for the easily frightened or those with weak stomachs. Crouch writes vivid and horrific scenes that will linger in the consciousness long after the book is read. [His] carefully crafted characters make the story immediate, intense and thoroughly believable."
- Denver Post
"Blake Crouch has every intention of putting the screaming oogies in your nightmares. . . . He takes you on a twisting ride that contains enough depravity and graphic violence to send Stephen King to the liquor cabinet for a stiff one."
- Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
"The fastest, meanest read I've had in quite a while. Blake Crouch clamps on and propels you forward, even though you're not at all sure you want to go into the disturbing places where he's taking you. Those looking for the next Hannibal might have a good time, and Crouch proves to be a writer who can get your attention."
- The Capital Times (Milwaukee, WI)
"Desert Places starts with a bang and doesn't let up. . . you won't be able to put it down."
- Midwest Book Review
"This book is dark and a bit deranged, and I loved every minute of it. Reading it is like driving in the rain at 90 MPH with your eyes closed, sheer adrenaline. Write this name down, Blake Crouch is here to stay."
- Mystery One Bookstore
"This first novel by up-and-coming new talent Blake Crouch will set you on the edge of your chair. . . Crouch will handcuff you, blindfold you, throw you in the trunk of a car, and drag you kicking and screaming through a story so intense, so gruesome, and so emotionally packed, that you will walk away stunned - and with a choice to make. You will have to decide, in your own heart, whether Crouch is a super-talented writer with an immense imagination, or one sick puppy. Read the story and you will come to a deeper understanding of that."
- Relish, Winston-Salem Journal
"[Crouch's] writing is sick, and I mean that in the very best way. If Desert Places is any indication of what we can expect from Crouch in the future, be prepared to see his name on the bestseller lists. And just as his protagonist has had books turned into movies, Crouch may soon have a producer knocking at his door."
- Ottawa Sun (Canada)
"A complex, cleverly constructed novel of motive. . . Crouch is an author to watch."
- The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
"This is an odd, creepy and disturbing book. And I mean that as a compliment."
- The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
"Crouch maintains a roller-coaster pace, with twists that leave you blinking."
- Charlotte Observer
"Fast-paced. . . vivid scenes. . . the story is so good. . . that even readers who aren't drawn to psychological cat-and-mouse game plots won't be able to put it down."
- Durango Telegraph
"Twisted. . . surprises around every turn. . . don't climb in if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, might be pregnant, or are under four feet tall."
- Iredell Citizen
"Will scare the bejeepers out of you, but you'll love it anyway. Surprises lurk on every page of this thriller, so here's a reminder: Keep breathing."
- Working Mother Magazine
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org