Darkness in the City of Light


I’m so excited to be in the November issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which is on newsstands now! My novella, “Darkness in the City of Light,” is about a sado-masochistic friendship, a sordid love triangle, and the limits to which you can push a person. But it’s also something of a love letter to the most romantic city in the world, even though it shows off the dark side of Paris as well as its glowing lights.

Here’s how the story opens:

I should have hung up on Blythe when she told me she’d booked tickets for us to go Paris. Through four years of college she had been my roommate and nemesis, alternately swearing we were closer than sisters, then refusing to speak to me for days. By graduation, I was relieved to break free of her dizzying Manhattan orbit and retreat to Maine. But by the time Blythe called in August, the cozy familiarity of my parents’ bed-and-breakfast had morphed once again into disdain. I’d been turned down for every job and internship I’d applied for and was wondering if I’d ever get work that didn’t involve scrubbing toilets.

My mother made a prayerful gesture when I told her about the trip. I always wanted to go to Paris, Annie, she said. You are so fortunate to have a friend like Blythe. I’d never shared Blythe’s less shining moments with her, so my mother believed Blythe was a young, hip fairy godmother. I was instantly relieved of scullery-maid duties, feeling only a twinge of regret for abandoning my parents during their busiest season. My mother helped me pack and paint my nails as my father hovered in the background. They’d met Blythe twice, and while my mother was dazzled by her blonde beauty and glamour, my father maintained a silence on the subject that spoke volumes.

My mother drove me to Portland, where I caught a bus to New York. By the time I arrived at Blythe’s apartment on the Upper East Side, I felt like throwing up. Would she change her mind about our trip at the last minute? One time, she’d broken up with her boyfriend, Richard, and announced we were going to Hawaii; by the time I got back from a bikini-buying binge, she’d already reconciled with him. Anything was possible with Blythe.

When she opened the door, she grabbed me in a huge hug. “I’ve missed you so much. We have so much to catch up on.”

But as I caught my breath and looked around her apartment, I knew something was wrong. There were piles of shopping bags and magazines lying amid overflowing ashtrays and empty vodka bottles. Worse, there were ornately framed photographs everywhere with a man’s head neatly clipped out of each one. I hadn’t seen Blythe’s new apartment, but the pictures were the same ones she’d displayed in the apartment we’d shared. I knew who she’d decapitated.

One more thing: if you’re in New York for the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 22nd, I’ll be signing copies of Ellery Queen’s November issue at the magazine’s booth from 3pm to 4pm. Please come by to say hello!

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