A Darker Place by Laurie R. King

 

SuspenseA Darker Place by Laurie R. King

A Darker PlaceLaurie R. King; BantPm Books 1999WorldCatWhen Anne Waverly was a young mother, her husband and daughter died in a religious cult gone wrong. She had also belonged to the group, but was away the weekend the final steps were taken. After she finally put her life back together, she became a professor of religion. Glen McCarthy in the FBI soon discovered she could also become a cult member again as needed.

He tapped that skill, putting Anne into different cult situations to observe and report. She was not to endanger herself. She instead was to infiltrate, become a believer, and let him know if the group was the threat the FBI was beginning to suspect. He tried to pull her out before things turned bad, but was not always able to accomplish that.

As she is teaching a university class in Oregon, McCarthy and a partner show up in the back of her classroom. Waverly knows why he is here. She has refused to do any further work for the FBI. He knows that her desire to find out will overcome her objections. He leaves her a file on The Change, an international group with a compound in Arizona. As he expects, as she reads the material, she gets caught up. She becomes Ana Wakefield, middle aged seeker of truth and a sense of life.

One of the first members Wakefield meets is a small girl who is the image of Waverly’s daughter just before she died. Wakefield now is determined to see if this group is dangerous or not. If it is what it appears, then she knows it is helping delinquent children to turn around their lives. If it is not, she is afraid those children are instead being exploited. What is the secret here? This group has a nebulous religious belief, not based on any established religion. What are its core beliefs?

Laurie R. King does a lot of research for her wonderful novels. She has dug into religious cults, and even the meaning of the word “cult”. Not only does this book deal with The Change, but other incidences known in recent American history. She shows the differences between the believers and the leaders. This is a fascinating mystery. I was afraid it would be emotionally hurtful to read, but was fine with it. Instead I was pulled into Ana Wakefield/Anne Waverly’s mind and was able to comprehend.

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