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Publisher's Summary

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Mystery/Thriller Books of 2020 

"From its gripping beginning to its sobering finale, Amy Engel's The Familiar Dark never fails to enthrall with surprising twists." (Associated Press)

A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it's better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother's cruel brand of strength if she's going to face the reality about her daughter's death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother's trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family - women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances - as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.

©2020 Amy Engel (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Familiar Dark is a blistering rural noir brimming with dark secrets and the harsh realities of survival in a hardscrabble town. As Eve Taggert seeks vengeance for her daughter’s murder and descends into the depths of her own jagged past, we are reminded that a mother’s love is a fearsome thing. A powerful, gripping, heart-stopping read." (Laura McHugh, award-winning author of The Wolf Wants In)

What listeners say about The Familiar Dark

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Housework

Got a pantry to clean? Some horrible job that you've been putting off for years? Getter done in one day by downloading this audible gem! Go old school and put your cell phone in your 1970's fanny pack, ear buds on, and see how fast that house sparkles cause you aren't going to be able to stop listening to this story!

14 people found this helpful

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Twisty and Dark

Gritty, smart, brave and realistic thriller whose character’s live on the edges of American culture. Solid character development — curious beginning and a strangely sympathetic finale. Narrator’s voice perfectly captures the protagonist’s character.

8 people found this helpful

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Loved it! Read like an Ozark subplot!

The narration was OUTSTANDING! She turned this author's voice into mental cinematography!
Very strong female characters! It reminded me so much of the characters in the Netflix show, Ozark. Totally recommend!!

4 people found this helpful

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A dark story

The title is quite accurate, this is a very dark story. The characters lead bleak, dead-end lives in a corrupt, dying town. The story reminded me very much of the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Wonderful narration by Lisa Flanagan, she captured the anguish of a mother losing the daughter who is the center of her existence.

4 people found this helpful

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New addition to my “favorite books of all time” list

This book will hit you like lightning, especially if you’re interested in women’s issues, and true crime that defies/subverts the harmful true crime tropes. Read it!

4 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

After binge watching Ozark, I saw this book come across my suggestions and I decided to try it out. I binged on this too and finished it in a day. It wasn’t really a whodunnit although some may be surprised at the culprit but more a look inside yourself and what you are willing to do and how far you will go to avenge the ones you love. I loved it. Excellent listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Exceptional and raw

This illustrates reality and love in a way only those who have suffered can understand; so basically, everyone. Great for those who have grown to understand that parents do what has to be done.
Addicting, so be prepared for an escape from your life.

1 person found this helpful

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Don’t waste your time or money.

This was a time & money waste. Nothing happens. 90% of the story goes no where. Additionally I couldn’t empathize with the characters. In fact I couldn’t even comprehend their way of thinking. I didn’t like any of them. The best part of the book was the narrator. Pass on this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SB
  • 06-03-21

Great start, faltered at the end

This book got off to a fantastic start and I was hooked for the 1st half to 2/3rds. The author lost me when Zach turned out to be the one night stand, "just passing thru town" father of Junie and also the father of Junie's best friend Lizzie. And he has been holding a torch for her for 12 years and just happens to move to her hometown with his bride?

From there, it just became too sordid and trashy for me, and I could see the end coming. I get that poverty, geography, drugs, and lifestyle is important to the story, but it was a bit much for me. Junie's mother ceased to be a sympathetic character for me. Most characters' actions became difficult for me to believe. The longer it went on, the lower my rating got.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to care about anyone

Hard to like it care about any of the characters or get excited to get back to it.

1 person found this helpful