A Dark and Lonely Place by Edna Buchanan: Review.
This is a fabulous novel with a concept that could only succeed in the most capable hands of Ms Buchanan. For this novel is two mysteries stories in one.
The writer has taken the true life story of John Ashley and Laura Upthegrove who were known as outlaws in the early twentieth century and entwined it with a murder mystery set in today’s Miami.
Like many of us in Florida, Ms Buchanan has long been fascinated by the story of the original John and Laura. But what, she thought, if the tale of the two lovers on the run from the law was transposed into modern day Miami? This is a fascinating idea – and it works.
I didn’t think it would. I’d seen this book a couple of years ago – it was first published in 2011 – and because of my knowledge about the historical John and Laura, I didn’t want to read this modern version.
But it landed on the review desk at JAQUO HQ so I couldn’t resist. I’m delighted that I finally read this book.
John Ashley and Laura Upthegrove
You’ll read the story of this real life couple in the book so I would be so cruel as to give the game away. Just be assured that the real story of John and Laura is truly absorbing. Of course, the author has added her own interpretations to the story of their lives – and therefore her account cannot be taken as one hundred percent accurate – but the basics are there and, I’m pleased to see, she treats them sympathetically. Their story is often misunderstood but Ms Buchanan is more experienced and knowledgeable to fall into this error.
The fictional John and Laura
In the modern day version of this story, John Ashley is a Miami cop. Cleverly transplanting the original story to today, his experiences mirror his namesake’s but in a modern urban setting. And of course, just like the original John, he is living and working in an area that is like no other. Both stories could only happen in Florida.
The true and the fictional story would both stand on their own. But together they work well.
The question the reader asks is, will today’s story mirror the real fate of John and Laura?