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Darkness All Around

Darkness All Around

  • reading group guide
When there’s DARKNESS ALL AROUND . . . some memories are best forgotten

Within the span of one harrowing week, Risa’s alcoholic husband, Sean, disappears, and her best friend, Carol, is brutally murdered. Eleven years later, Risa has seemingly put her life back together again, comforted by the love of her new husband, who is a local politician, and the knowledge that Carol’s killer has been convicted. But then just as suddenly as he disappeared, Sean resurfaces— sober, plagued by horrific recollections of Carol’s murder, and convinced he was the real killer.

Sean’s startling claim buzzes through the small, football-crazy Pennsylvania community, and Risa is left to wonder if the man she still loves actually committed the grisly murder. Her growing belief in his innocence sends her on a treacherous search for the truth: a search that reveals ugly secrets that her new husband and the town’s law enforcement community are hiding.

Emboldened by her discoveries, Risa convinces Sean to flee as the town’s violent forces move in to keep the truth from coming to light. But Risa doesn’t realize that her attempts to get vindication for Sean may come at a very high price.

Part murder mystery, part love story, Darkness All Around is a gripping exploration of the depths of the criminal mind, the fine line between the truth and a lie, and the bravery of the human heart.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439160107 | 
  • October 2011
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Read an Excerpt


It’s a body. That’s all I know.”

The woman’s voice coming through the phone was still new to him. He had met her only once, after she had hired him, in a rushed introduction to the central offices of the paper in nearby Docksport. She had been uninterested in him, insisted on calling him Hank when he said he preferred Henry, said he really didn’t need to know anything about the central office in “this fucking computer age,” hacked up a gob of phlegm that she then swallowed and would probably chase with a cigarette as soon as she could, and dismissed him swiftly when news... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Darkness All Around includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Doug Magee. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Sean Collins is a recovering alcoholic, trying to put his life back together after years on the streets. He is also recovering from Amnesia and is haunted by graphic memories of a dead woman named Carol—a woman he used to know. When he discovers that Carol really was murdered and that the accused murderer might have given a false confession, he fears that he is to blame. He returns to his hometown of Braden to turn himself in.

Risa, Sean’s ex-wife, has not only remarried but had him declared dead after he went missing eleven years ago. When he returns to Braden, it turns her world upside down. Is her ex-husband, the father of her son, a killer? Is her current husband Alan, Sean’s erstwhile best friend, the man she believes him to be? Who really killed Carol? The answers will surprise everyone.


1. At the opening of the novel Risa is plagued by a sense of looming disaster, which is borne out by events. Have you ever had similar intuitions? see more

About the Author



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