Beautiful street artist Jade, and her equally beautiful friend, Raphael, are constantly on the run from a childhood they remember only in nightmares. Escapees from a cult that pandered them to abusers, they cling to each other for survival. Jade sells her paintings at street fairs to make ends meet. One day, she decides to put out a portrait of the woman who was her mother, but who also abandoned her to the cult when she died of a drug overdose. A tourist buys the portrait, saying it is the perfect image of her former neighbor, who disappeared with her child one night twenty years before. Jade and Raphael take the money, then flee the city the next day, heading across country to hide once more from anyone who might drag them back into horror.
The tourist takes the painting to Sam Cochrane, whose wife and daughter went missing all those years ago. Sam calls his friend, Luke Kelly, a private investigator, and asks for help. When an unexpected clue in the painting identifies the artist as Sam's daughter, Luke launches an all-out search for her.
Finding Jade and bringing her home creates a media storm, and threatens the secrecy of one of her past abusers. An abuser who will do anything to protect himself from discovery, even if it means killing Jade and everyone who loves her.
This story has a strong romance element, as well as a spiritual one of forgiveness and hope. Raphael is a man whose unselfish love and devotion make him truly unforgettable. Jade and Luke are a sweet couple, and Sam is a wonderful father.
This report prepared by Kayelle Allen
Mira, Oct 2003, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1977 St. Louis Sam and Maggie Cochrane live the American dream, loving each other and their little girl. However, Maggie seeks something extra beyond being a loving wife and mother so she attends classes at the community college. There she meets Soloman and his cult of followers The People of Joy. She runs away with six year old Jade to join Soloman's followers. Two years later she is dead from an overdose and Jade is sold to pediophiles.
Over the next two decades a lonely Sam becomes a successful businessman, but finds no sign of his family until friends on vacation see a portrait of Maggie. They inform Sam who asks his friend former cop Luke Kelly to investigate. Luke learns Maggie is dead, but tracks down Jade in New Orleans. He brings Jade and her companion Raphael to meet Sam. As Raphael is dying from AIDS due to his days as a child prostitute, Jade and Luke fall in love while Sam tries to become a father to his beloved adult daughter. However, someone learns of Jade's return and is worried that his career may end if the scandal of his using her as a child hooker surfaces.
OUT OF THE DARK is an exhilarating romantic suspense tale that emphasizes the family drama over the intrigue. The story line is at a superb level of quality when Sam and Jade meets and when Luke tries to reach out to his beloved. When a hired killer enters the plot, the character study takes an unnecessary back seat. Still fans of the human drama will appreciate Jade's Mount Everest climb OUT OF THE DARK.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner