Dark Debts Reviews


From Kirkus Reviews , June 1, 1996
Gripping, much heralded horror debut novel by top TV scripter Hall. The five years Hall spent on writing, revision, and deep research reap big rewards for the reader in this very serious (and spiritual) shocker. The story: A dark debt, or curse, hangs over the family of a Georgia ex-Satanist. The Landry family has been working off this debt, unbeknownst to its infected members, with insanity, suicide, robbery, murder, and even mass murder. Cam Landry, a reclusive young Los Angeles crime writer who has just signed a publishing contract for $300,000, suddenly goes berserk, robs a liquor store, kills a clerk, then commits suicide. Cam's ex- lover Randa, a journalist for an alternative newspaper, wonders what could have provoked this senseless deed. Romance blooms when the determined Randa goes to the town of Barton, outside Atlanta, to talk with the last surviving Landry, hermit Jack, who knows that insanity, murder, and perhaps suicide likely await him as well. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Father Michael Kinney, a sexy young Jesuit who edits a far-out Catholic magazine, falls for Tess, a lapsed-Catholic New Yorker editor, when she has him write a piece about an adolescent who murdered his family after an exorcism Michael helped administer failed. Michael, it turns out, is related to the Landrys and is also being stalked by the family curse. Then, fired from his magazine job and exiled to a Georgia parish, Michael meets Jack Landry. Will Michael save Jack, then give up his Roman collar and marry Tess? Can he survive when the same demon gnawing at Jack also goes after him? And why doesn't God help Michael fight the demon? Hall's soft-bang climax has a cliched ring, but even readers skeptical of demonology will find themselves beguiled by her stringent arguments and research, all set off by strong characters and witty dialogue. (First printing of 150,000; film rights to Paramount; Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection; author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.



From Booklist , June 1, 1996
The path for Hall's first novel, a successful hybrid of Anne Rice and Colleen McCullough, is strewn with gold--a 150,000 first printing, film rights sold to Paramount, and a huge promotional campaign. Does it merit such a push? Sure, on the intelligent thriller scale, we'd give it a 7. Considered "one of the women under 40 who is changing America" by Esquire, Hall is a well-respected television writer with shows such as Roseanne, Hill Street Blues, and M*A*S*H to her credit, writing experiences that have made her adept at executing snappy dialogue, solid psychology, well-paced action, and slick suspense. And the story, a tricky tale of demonic possession, isn't bad either; in fact, it's full of wit, romance, and some surprisingly articulate, on-target criticism of the Catholic Church. Hall's cast of sexy characters includes two bighearted but savvy women journalists, a handsome and deeply conflicted Jesuit priest with a shocking family history, a good-looking Georgian recluse trying to avoid the violent fate that claimed the lives of his parents and three brothers, a street priest from the Bronx specializing in exorcism, and a kind woman demonologist. Hall provides plenty of gothic moments when the "thing," a manifestation of pure evil, is present, but she never goes overboard. Hall should be applauded for writing genuinely entertaining commercial fiction grounded in serious thought instead of wasting paper on more pulp nonsense. Donna Seaman
Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved



Once you meet the Landrys of Georgia in this debut thriller by a veteran television writer, you'll never again use the words "a family from Hell" lightly. Dark Debts focuses on two couples: a Jesuit priest and reluctant demonologist named Michael Kinney, whose growing doubts about his calling are energized by an affair with a New Yorker editor; and Randa Phillips, a columnist for a Los Angeles alternative newspaper, who was the longtime lover of Cam, seemingly the sanest of the Landrys, until he killed himself, and is now involved with his only surviving brother, Jack.

An unspeakable curse has consumed a poor Southern family and Michael Kinney, a fallen priest, represents their only hope for salvation. In his struggles to save them from total ruin, Kinney also wages a personal battle to clear his name from a past injustice. As he investigates a deadly hotel fire and sifts through accounts of demonic possession, satanic ritual, and sightings of Jesus, Kinney comes to terms with his own personal demon, an unrivaled terror determined to bring the priest to death before he can find redemption. --This text refers to the audio cassette edition of this title


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