Born in New York, NY; married; children: two daughters (twins).
Home—Berkeley, CA. Agent—Rolph Blythe, The Blythe Agency, 25 Washington St., Ste. 614, Brooklyn, NY 11201. E-mail—[email protected]
Journalist and author. Reader's Catalog, editor; writer for the Oyster Bay Guardian, Syracuse New Times, and Boulder Weekly. Has worked as a chambermaid, prep cook, waitress, an educational editor, and as a fact checker for Martha Stewart Living magazine.
Top Ten Crime Novels for 2006 citation, Booklist, for A Field of Darkness.
A Field of Darkness (mystery novel), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Cornelia Read is a journalist turned mystery novelist. In her debut novel, A Field of Darkness, protagonist Madeline Dare is a reporter on a small newspaper in Syracuse, New York. Raised in a wealthy, WASP-ish, and snobby family in downstate New York, Madeline has seen the family's fortunes erode over time. She is married to Dean, a railroad worker who is often out of town, and although her marriage is good, she hates most everything about her upstate lifestyle. Her life takes an unexpected turn when her father-in-law shows her a set of military identification tags he unearthed in a field on the family's farm. Years before, this same field had been the scene of a bizarre double murder in which two young women, dubbed the Rose Girls, were found with their throats cut and their bodies arranged strangely. The girls had last been seen at the local State Fair walking with two soldiers from local Camp Drum. Their murderer was never caught. To Madeline's dismay, the dog tags found in the field bear the name of Lapthorne Townsend, a favorite cousin from her arrogant family. Townsend had always been kind to her, and she sets out to investigate the murders and prove that this otherwise gentle man had no connection to the violent killings years before. As she investigates, new murders occur with obvious connections to the Rose Girls case, and the failing fortunes of New York socialites clash with the lowest of redneck scum before the murderer is finally revealed.
Much of the story in A Field of Darkness has a basis in fact. In an interview on her home page, the author stated: "Almost all the family history in the book is true." Madeline Dare bears more than slight resemblance to Read herself in her background and lifestyle. Read's father-in-law really did uncover a set of dog tags from a field where two young women had been found dead under mysterious circumstances after being seen in public with two soldiers. In real life, however, there was no resolution to the murder case, and no connection was made with the missing dog tags.
Reviewers had positive reactions to Read's first novel. "Every page is a pleasure in this mystery debut," remarked Alison Block in Booklist, adding that Read's "plot crackles and pops, but her characters steal the show." Curtis Edmonds, writing for Bookreporter.com, stated that Read "shows herself to be a sharp, caustic observer of crime scenes and purely social disasters," and an author with an "unerring eye for the false and the ridiculous" in the environments she writes about. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called A Field of Darkness an "impressive debut," and remarked that the author "writes with verve and passion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, Allison Block, review of A Field of Darkness, p. 33; May 1, 2006, Bill Ott, "The Year's Best Crime Novels," review of A Field of Darkness, p. 8.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of A Field of Darkness, p. 164.
Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Caroline Mann, review of A Field of Darkness, p. 68; May 1, 2006, Andi Schechter, "Q&A: Cornelia Read," interview with Cornelia Read, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2006, review of A Field of Darkness, p. 64.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (September 29, 2006), Hilary Williamson, review of A Field of Darkness.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 29, 2006), Curtis Edmonds, review of A Field of Darkness.
Cornelia Read Home Page,http://www.corneliaread.com (September 29, 2006).
Spinetingler Magazine,http://www.spinetinglermag.com/ (September 29, 2006), Sandra Ruttan, "Of Cents and Psychology: An In-Depth Interview with Cornelia Read."