Kept in the Dark
By Penny Hancock
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452298330, 352pp.)
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
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At the house next door, respectability can hide all manner of sins
Fans of Tampa by Alissa Nutting and New York Times bestsellers Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Room by Emma Donoghue, and The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison will love Penny Hancock’s chilling debut thriller about a woman on the edge. When her neighbor’s fifteen-year-old nephew goes missing, Sonia is the last person that anyone would suspect. At forty-three, she is a strikingly attractive wife and mother. And like the River House, her lovely home overlooking the Thames, Sonia’s life is a picture of perfection and normalcyuntil she meets Jez. From the moment he shows up on Sonia’s doorstep, the gorgeous teenage boy awakens a torrent of memories that threaten to reveal a terrifying truth. Drawn to Jez by a compulsion that she scarcely understands, Sonia takes him captiveprepared to sacrifice everything to keep him.
Penny Hancock grew up in south-east London and then travelled extensively as a language teacher. She now lives in Cambridge with her husband and three children. Kept in the Dark is her first novel.
"It's such a thrill to read a book as deliciously dark and richly evocative as KEPT IN THE DARK. From the first page to its shocking finale it draws you into its world and won't let you go. A wonderful debut...I took KEPT IN THE DARK on my travels, thinking it would last me a couple of weeks. Two days later I'd finished it, having stayed up all night, and was telling everyone I met they had got to read it. Brilliantly written and totally gripping. I loved it." -S.J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep
“I was transfixed at page one of Hancock's twisty and tense debut, KEPT IN THE DARK. A nerve-fraying journey that will keep you mesmerized to the shocking end.”—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden
“KEPT IN THE DARK kept me awake far into the night. Each page pulled me deeper into Sonia’s twisted narrative. The unstoppable manner, in which Penny Hancock drew me into this character’s world, as I read between psychic half-spread fingers covering my eyes, is a testimony to the author’s talent. By the end, I had no choice but to race to the finish.”—Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters
“In British author Hancock’s stunning debut, a psychological thriller set over less than a week, a respectable married woman kidnaps a 15-year-old boy and holds him captive in her historic Thames-side London house.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Utterly compelling, and expertly written, KEPT IN THE DARK perfectly captures one woman's desperate need to love and be loved. A spot on rendering of obsession, I read the story with the lights on, and for days after finishing it, could not get it out of mind. It's that get-under-your-skin terrifyingly good."—Lesley Kagen, National Bestselling Author of Whistling in the Dark and Good Graces
“This invites comparison to John Fowles’ The Collector, but Hancock gives her narrator, Sonia, a more complex motive, crafting a narrative that grows darker as its level of tension builds. An accomplished first novel that lingers in memory.”—Booklist
“An impressive debut from a writer we’re certain to hear more about…There are hints of a young Daphne du Maurier in Hancock’s cool, evocative prose as she reveals the terrifying extent of Sonia’s obsession…Beautifully worked and with a sharp eye for the menace in the commonplace, it lingers in the memory like a Schubert melody, and casts a distinctive spell.” -The Daily Mail (UK)
“This creepy, well-written debut is reminiscent of John Fowles’s The Collector…with Sonia, Hancock pulls off the considerable feat of 'writing mad.'” -The Guardian (UK)
“A sparklingly creepy debut thriller with the most brilliant premise. When 15-year-old Jez pops round to voice coach Sonia’s to borrow some music, she can’t help herself—and she doesn’t let him leave.” -Mirror, 4-star review (UK)
“A clever, creepy thriller about misplaced affection and abduction...in clear, chilling prose.” -Marie Claire (UK)
"A gripping account of a woman on the edge, who commits appalling crimes and offers them up in a tone of quietly rational domesticity." -Natasha Cooper, author of the Trish Maguire Mysteries
“In Hancock’s debut novel, a pretty, middle-aged voice coach named Sonia invites a teen boy into her house on the Thames—and decides not to let him go. Writing about her crime in a calm, measured voice, Sonia comes across as a blend of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and John Fowles’s The Collector, a woman as smart as she is unstable.”—People
Pick of the Shelves 2012 -The Sun (UK)