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Available Dark (Cass Neary 2) by [Hand, Elizabeth]
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Available Dark (Cass Neary 2) Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

A skin-blistering crime novel, as edgy and black as dried blood on a moonlit night. (Robert Crais)

Fiercely frightening yet hauntingly beautiful, with a startling heroine you'll never forget... Shimmers with gorgeous writing even as it scares the dickens out of you. (Tess Gerritsen)

Cass Neary... makes Lisbeth Salander seem like a model of mental stability... Stunning. (Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review))

In the spirit of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... As the dark Nordic forest thickens, so does the plot. Larsson fanatics may be unable to resist. (The New York Post)

Pulsing with tension throughout... charged with its own chilling luminosity. (The Washington Post)

A gasoline burn of a book; but it's also a tightly-plotted noir thriller...Unputdownable. (The Rejectionist)

A brilliant sequel to Hand's acclaimed literary thriller Generation Loss... Stunning. (Booklist (starred review))

Book Description

A searing and iconoclastic crime novel, in which photographer Cass Neary, introduced in the underground classic Generation Loss, finds herself drawn into the shadowy world of crime in Scandinavia's coldest corners.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 724 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: C & R Crime (20 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009ZRRMAU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #391,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Hand's "Available Dark" is a brilliant, engrossing work of crime fiction that is among this year's finest novels, courtesy of one of our finest prose stylists in contemporary American fiction. In beautifully rendered, quite descriptive, prose, Hand has fashioned a most compelling anti-hero, photographer Cass Neary, who was introduced in the cult favorite "Generation Loss" (which I have not read yet); however, readers don't have to have read the earlier novel to agree with the writer Katherine Dunn's most astute assessment of Neary as "one of literature's great noir antiheroes". Drawing upon her prior substantial background in photography, Hand has rendered a most compelling portrait of this down-on-her-luck photographer, as Neary undertakes an unexpectedly frightful journey into some of the darkest corners of Scandinavia. What promises to be a rather routine trip to verify the authenticity of fine art photographs by a leading Finnish fashion photographer leads instead to a suspenseful trek past the Scylla and Charybdis of murder and psychological mayhem; Hand relentlessly builds up the tension in a manner more consistent with the likes of Clive Barker and John Le Carre than with Angela Christie, sending Neary towards an unexpected reunion with someone she hasn't seen in decades. Surprisingly terse for a literary thriller of its length, "Available Dark" represents ample reaffirmation demonstrating why Hand has had an award-winning literary career that includes such honors as the Shirley Jackson Award, James Tiptree Award, the Nebula Award, and the World Fantasy Award. If nothing else, "Available Dark" is a superb reason why potential readers should read the work of this most talented, quite versatile, writer still at the zenith of her substantial literary craft.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great follow up, looking forward to the next book in this series.a unique read.his is a great anti- hero read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Hand's first book featuring middle-aged, burned out, New Yorker, ex-punk, drug-addled photographer Cass Neary - Generation Loss - but mainly because of the claustrophobic, nightmare-like atmosphere Hand described when setting that first book in out-of-season Maine.

Cass Neary is an unlikely and unlovable heroine. She's not really a heroine at all. Stuff just happens to her and she reacts numbly. But this could be overlooked in the first book.

The second book takes up right after the events of the first book. Out of the blue, Cass gets an offer to travel from New York to Helsinki to authenticate some photographs. For reasons I couldn't quite understand she flies almost immediately to Iceland. There, bad stuff happens, related to Norwegian black metal music and what amount to "snuff photographs".

The first book worked - for me - partly because it turned what one would think as an idyllic rural setting into a nightmare dreamscape. In this book, Hand goes to some lengths to tell us how alien and barren Iceland is. Well, duh.

I didn't like this. I got the feeling Hand had been told to write another book featuring Cass and she came up with a plot featuring photographs, black metal, Scandinavian mythology, blackmail and murder. It all felt too by-the-numbers for me. Disappointing. I'd been hoping for much more.

3/10
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Continuing (Dark and Cold) Aventures of Cassandra Neary 29 Feb. 2012
By M. Griffin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Available Dark follows Cassandra Neary, a damaged, self-destructive and somewhat washed-up art photographer, who first appeared in Hand's 2007 novel, Generation Loss. A novel with Neary as a protagonist is bound to be a wild ride. She's prone to sudden changes in direction, abruptly taking off for an isolated island off of Maine (in Generation Loss), or to meet a shady Finnish collector of death-obsessed photographs, or chase a long-lost friend/lover who might be in Iceland. Along the way she encounters murder and threat, and often manages to multiply her own troubles by the following her own badly damaged sense of direction. Complicating all this is Cass's painful personal history, which lingers in her present despite the passage of years. Some people deal with adversity by bucking up and getting on with things, while others self-medicate using a cocktail of antisocial behavior, emotional avoidance, and a constant flow of mood-altering substances. Cass fits in the latter, and for this reason her problems aren't so much solved as left to accumulate, trailing in her wake.

Such a compelling central character does much of the work in engaging the reader. On top of this we have unusual settings (Reykjavik and Iceland's outlying areas are especially exotic, well drawn here) and such intriguing milieu as the worlds of photography concerned with death and folklore, the Scandinavian Black Metal scene, and obscure underground cult-like groups dedicated to resurrecting ancient Norse worship. The book is packed with vivid details, bizarre characters, and fascinating and varied artistic and cultural obsessions.

Most of Hand's earlier writing was constrained to Fantasy and related genres, but here she steps away from the impossible. Available Dark concerns itself with real world situations, characters and conflicts, yet these convey all the bizarre extremity of the strangest alt-world fantasy. It's possible some of her devoted readers may be disappointed by what is essentially a mainstream thriller, but I don't feel Available Dark suffers in the least from the lack of overt "impossible" elements. Normally if one of my favorite genre writers took a detour into the mainstream, I might say, "That's nice, now get back to what you do best." In this case, I find the character and settings so compelling I'd happily follow a Cass Neary series.

Hand seems to me a writer's writer, less concerned with superficial effects or pursuit of the latest publishing industry fad, more interested in crafting artful, expressive prose and shining light upon genuine and true "real life" moments. With Available Dark, Elizabeth Hand walks the tightrope between more accessible mainstream entertainments on one hand, and on the other maintaining a high artistic standing in the unflinching exploration of the dark and exotic. Available Dark constitutes yet another proof of Hand's status as one of the very best writers working today, in any genre. I can't wait for more Cassandra Neary.
5.0 out of 5 stars I've loved both of the Cass Neary books I have read ... 16 May 2017
By Mister Blister - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've loved both of the Cass Neary books I have read so far, Generation Loss and Available Dark (Hard Light is on deck). These are among the most tightly written and evocative dark thrillers I have come across. The bloated, heavily padded writing of Steig Larrsson, for instance, pales in comparison. I dare say Cass Neary is up there with James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux in terms of being a unique character whose realness jumps off the page.I also love the way Hand incorporates music into her novels. She is clearly a big cult rock fan, as she makes copious references to the subject throughout her books and nails each and every one.

Hand's greatest strengths lie in her descriptive powers and her mastery of characterization. Her dialogue crackles, too. If she has a writerly weakness it may be in plotting. Don't get me wrong: the pages practically turn themselves. However, this novel has a few plot holes you could drive a truck through. If I had to guess, I'd say the author enjoys the process of creating specific atmospheres and tones more than she does navigating characters through action from point A to point B. Still, that is a minor criticism. The excellent writing allowed me to see past any weaknesses in plot or pacing. ONE WORD OF WARNING: this series is not for every mystery fan. Cass is as close to a true nihilist as you are likely to encounter in any but the most transgressive fiction. She is a compulsive liar, kleptomaniac, alcoholic, and drug addict. She screws people over routinely and seems to feel little to know remorse about it. At times it is hard to believe that we can follow her misadventures with any sympathy, yet somehow we do. That is another testament to the writing's strength. Readers with any religious inclinations might be turned off by the ceaselessly dark and pessimistic world view espoused here. For those with tough hides, though, I recommend you strap yourselves in and get ready for one heck of a wild ride.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like chocolate - the darker the better. 11 Mar. 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let's get one thing straight up front. Liz Hand is not playing around. This is some dark stuff. How dark? Dark net; 14 hours of dark a day; dark, dangerous men; available dark. So dark that Cass Neary, a woman her creator describes as "your prototypical amoral speedfreak crankhead kleptomaniac murderous rage-filled alcoholic bisexual heavily tattooed American female photographer" is the brightest spot in the story. Dark.

People keep comparing this book to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series, and I am here to just say no. "The Woman with the Jack Daniels and Focalin Addictions" series is far, far superior. Not only is Cass > Lisbeth by a hundred, Hand's prose is > Larsson's (or his translator's) by infinity. Hand is not just a great storyteller, she's an artist, and she brings her world alive in a way that rarely happens in "genre" fiction. The unique combination of setting, characters, and plot will have you checking the internet after you finish the novel to see what's real and what came out of Hand's head. You'll find yourself wondering how she could possibly know about all this crazy stuff, and how she can make up the fake stuff so convincingly. I don't know what to tell you. She's a genius, that's all, and these works are wholly original and without comparison to anything else.

And thus begins my love letter to Cass Neary, the most intriguing and female anti-heroine to grace the pages of a novel since the incorrigible Moll Flanders. Cass Neary is not afraid. Of anything. When Cass watches someone die, she doesn't flip out and book thrice weekly sessions with her therapist to work through the trauma. Cass takes a picture of the body, and a really beautiful picture, at that. Knock Cass unconscious and throw her into the middle-of-ice-desert-nowhere, Cass doesn't wait for a hero to rescue her, and she certainly doesn't die. She staggers along, helped just a little by her BFF Jack and fave party girl Tina, until she stumbles onto a warm place to crash.

That Cass has survived as long as she has is a miracle, and a major part of her charm. Cass's theme song is "My Way," the Sid Vicious version. Through no fault or credit of her own, she's made it to middle-age, through punk rock, 1970s East Village, New York, a violent rape, and her own attempts to self destruct. (And no, that's not an error. Not only is she an insanely bad a$$ female protagonist that will eat you alive and pick her teeth with your bones, Cass is also middle- aged. Do you have any idea how incredible that is?!)

If you're coming to Available Dark a Cass Neary virgin, fine. The story is complete in and of itself, but just go ahead and read Generation Loss. Load up on Cass so you don't get the DTs, because you will not be able to get enough of her. She is addictive in the best way imaginable. Once you've got both books in hand, put your cowboy boots on and hunker down for a tumble through a frozen hell on the back of a strung out modern day Valkyrie with nothing left to lose. You won't regret it for a second, and you might even reach Valhalla. Just look out for Krampus and anyone pointing a camera your way.
4.0 out of 5 stars Even More Satisfying than Generation Loss 28 Jun. 2015
By Randy Stafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is, except in its villain, is a more satisfying novel than its predecessor, Generation Loss.

There are more bodies, a trail of them across the northern lands of Finland and Iceland, as Cass Neary, leaving her New York City home before Maine law enforcement can question her more closely about events in the earlier novel, accepts a dodgy commission by a sinister Norwegian nightclub owner. He wants some "esoteric" photographic prints authenticated. They turn out to be beautifully composed crime scene photos, the secret, early art of a now famous fashion photographer.

There's more weirdness as Cass seems, as the novel progresses, to be more than just a "amoral speedfreak crankhead kleptomaniac murderous rage-filled alcoholic bisexual heavily-tattooed" photographer of the damaged, dead, and dying. She has a wyrd and a purpose.

No American hippies here cooking up their homemade occultism in a Maine commune. The menace and mystery of the novel is both more ancient but also more modern as Hand shows Scandinavians trying, with murder, music, drugs, and desperation to come to grips with old and new chaos brought to their land by foreigners. In an Iceland reeling from the black swans of economic derivatives (though there are no scenes with the Viking Squad), Hand gives us bleak beauty (and a chance for Cass to put her practical knowledge of street drugs to good use).

To top it off, Cass hears, for the first time in over thirty years, from her old boyfriend, Quinn. He was the center of numinous attraction for the teenaged Cass. The back story of her relationship with Quinn is one of the reasons I'd advise reading Generation Loss first though it's not absolutely required.

Definitely recommended for those who like their crime stories mixed with something unearthly.
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, only it needs a pinch of plot 5 Mar. 2015
By Lee Quarnstrom - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I'd have added a fifth and final star to this review had Elizabeth Hand stirred just a bit more plot into this dark, gloomy and yet tasty Nordic stew. She's got atmosphere down pat: her chilling take on the frozen and lifeless drifts of snow that cover Finland and Norway like a frigid shroud and at the twisted volcanic wastelands of rural Iceland set the stage for her tale of photographers and black metal musicians caught in a paranoiac nightmare where death is bad, yet death is also OK and where everyone seems focussed on death, dying and, for good measure, some good old mutilation. We all tend to overuse the word "dystopian," yet Iceland -- urban and the vast stony fields of volcanic rock -- could be renamed Dystopia, at least in Hand's vision of the northern reaches of the planet. Her dark and seemingly morbid vision makes the usual Scandinavian mystery writers seem like they're setting their yarns in the fertile fields near The Little House on the Prairie.

If only Hand, who has impressive writing credentials and who has obviously lived in the slums of Dystopia as well as some much more cheery parts of the world, had spent just a paragraph here and there helping us understand why the peripheral characters -- a shady Norwegian nightclub owner (is there any other kind? As a part Norwegian myself I doubt it) an eccentric Finnish art and glamour photographer, and two Scandinavian rock-and-rollers who've chosen to live with virtually NO comforts of life out on the Icelandic fields of frozen lava, are doing what they do. Letting us know why everyone is pissed off, angry, a bit crazy, fascinated by missing body parts (the bloody parts themselves, not the bodies they used to be attached to) it would make this story a little more clear. Which I would have appreciated. Nonetheless, I think this is a fine piece of writing by an author who is completely new to me. I'm happy now that as an American with Scandinavian heritages from Sweden and Norway I might someday "visit the old country" without having to check out any cousins in Iceland. I'm worried what I might find on that volcanic isle.
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