ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK Sidney Sheldon Amazon.com Synopsis
Two gorgeous widows go up against a nefarious multinational think tank in this airbrushed but goofily entertaining thriller by perennial bestseller Sheldon (The Sky Is Falling; Tell Me Your Dreams; etc.). Four scientists working for the New Yorkbased Kingsley International Group have died or disappeared within 24 hours. Wolfish top boss Tanner Kingsley vows to find the perpetrator; meanwhile, stunning artist Diane Stevens, wife of a just-murdered KIG scientist, and supermodel Kelly Harris, whose husband has likewise been killed, find themselves under attack by mysterious strangers. Diane and Kelly form an uneasy alliance, though both spend most of their time ruminating on their wonderful (now dead) husbands: "I want to feel you stroking my breast.... I want to imagine that I can hear your voice saying that I make the best paella in the world...." The plot is straightforward: people are killed, women are in peril and an evil CEO (Tanner, gasp!) has a plot to take over the world. His technique involves controlling the weather, and in an intriguing short afterword, Sheldon explains the very real possibilities of just such a scenario. The on-the-lam ladies, Kelly and Diane, escape every assassination attempt with ridiculous ease, and other characters appear and disappear simply in order to get the author out of one plot pickle after another. Still, despite (or because of) Sheldon's blithe unconcern for logic and his just-add-water relationships, this is a breezily pleasing read.
Sent in by EstherC
The prologue opens with mysterious short snippets of 4 people (Frau Verbrugge, Richard Stevens, Mark Harris and Gary Reynolds) who get killed off in mysterious ways - assasinated by needle, beaten to death, whacked on the head, unusual plane crash. We are not yet told by whom or how or why.
The 1st opens with Diane Stevens testifying as primary witness at the ongoing trial of a mob capo (boss), Anthony Altieri. She tells the jury that she saw him shoot a man in the head. She knows that by testifying, she is opening herself to being a target for the mob, but she went ahead nonetheless. We learn soon after that she has several close shaves with death - a supposed carjacking attempt that looks more like an assassination. She reports this to the police, who arrive at her place (they know she is the key witness in the Altieri trial), but they have other news for her: her husband, Richard Stevens, has been found dead - killed mob-style. Diane grieves, thinking it is by her insistence to testify at the trial that got her husband killed.
The next segment is about Kelly Harris, a gorgeous african-american supermodel with a less-than-perfect childhood. She is the wife of Mark Harris, whom we learn in the later chapters, is basically a nice dweeb who won Kelly's heart and hand through sincerity and genuinity. Mark is killed and she too is devastated.
We later learn that both Richard and Mark are brilliant scientists working for Tanner Kingsley, head of Kingsley International Group (KIG). We learn that Tanner is an extremely brilliant man, but is jealous of having to be behind his elder brother, Andrew, who is equally, if not more, talented and brilliant than Tanner is. Andrew and Tanner set up the Kingsley group, which is a think-tank (research R&D facility), but with contrasting objectives for what the company should do: Andrew is an altruistic philanthropist who wants to use his research to better the lives of others and improve poverty, but Tanner wants to use those solution to get govt. contracts and become super-rich. Because Andrew is older and technically the one who came up with the company, Tanner bides his time and gives in to Andrew's way of doing things. However, later on, Andrew gives in to Tanner to do some research for the govt., which would bring them a lot of money. However, something went wrong during the process which left Andrew severely brain-damaged. He is alive and can function, but he will no longer be the brilliant man he was. Tanner takes over and runs KIG the way he likes it, and soon KIG is a burgeoning think-tank being funded by lots of contracts and recruiting the most brilliant scientists and pple all over the world. He bullies and demeans Andrew constantly, who is now like a dimwit and doesn't seem to understand being ridiculed.
The next chapters take us into the lives of the 4 people who were killed (some of quite revolting). We also learn of similar deaths abouta couple of years back of brilliant scientists - a japanese one Ika and a german lady Madeleine Smith, who were both also murdered but cases unresolved.
Tanner meets up with the 2 widows Diane and Kelly, who don;'t know each other but Diane had the sixth sense that it was important to hook up with Kelly. They never hit it off at first as both of grieving and their characters are wildly apart. We then learn that Tanner is the bad guy and he has ordered that they be killed by his killer, Vince Carballo (and a few other inventive killers). We learn that Tanner had an ex-girlfriend Pauline who later married someone else because she felt that at that time when he was his brother's lackey, he couldn't give her the power she wanted. She is now Senator Van Luven.
Soon, Diane and Kelly are being hunted down, and they both conclude that it must be Diane's fault since she testified against Altieri, the mob boss. They go and confront him, only to find out he is an old dude with cancer and just living his few days left in peace. He gives his word that he did not kill Richard Stevens, nor did he place a price on Diane's head. Now the 2 ladies are confused and they continue to be hunted down without knowing whom. Tanner is able to track them down anywhere anytime because of this super high-tech technology of cameras and transmitters and tracking devices he has bugged on them. The 2 ladies survive on their wits and street knowledge alone, until they conclude that it is Tanner who wants them dead.
The next part ties up the loose endings and we find out how all the deaths are related; the 4 persons initially mentioned were scientists working for KIG at various parts of the world, all assigned to research on meteorological stuff, assigned by Tanner. Somehow, all the 4 scientists arrived at the same conclusion - that it is possible to control the weather by forcing oxygen to chemically react to produce water molecules and ozone in mid-air. This is done via laser. The 4 scientists, by conscience, decide that this is not right and decide to meet to expose the experiment to the government, to the minister of environment, who happens to be Senator Va Luven. The men are killed because indeed, Tanner has a weather machine called Prima, which Andrew created. The machine works, evidently by the mysterious unexplainable weather maladies that have been dominating the news (unusual rains, snow in the Middle East, tornadoes in the East, etc etc). Tanner has been playing God with the weather and he intends to use the machine to blackmail countries for money. The previous 2 scientists' deaths were also by Tanner because they had similarly invented a weather machine but refused to work for KIG as they were loyal to their own company, another think-tank rivalling KIG.
The ladies somehow find out about Prima and intend to inform Senator Van Luven, where the final showdown occurs and we find out that Senator Van Luven and Tanner have been in this all along. Diane and Kelly were going to be killed but last minute, the killer had some other plans for them but is foiled. They escape and leak the news to the media, who cook up a storm about the unveiling of Prima. Tanner is upset but not so because he has a copy of Prima (Prima II) ready on some island he intends to go now with Senator Van Luven. He calls Andrew up with instructions on how to destroy Prima, which is to push this red button three times. Tanner and Senator Van Luven are on the plane on the way to the island when a mysterious tornado whips up at very very unheard-of high-speeds. The plane crashes and they die. We later find out that somehow, Andrew is aware of his brother's evil doing and was controlling Prima before he pressed the red button 3 times.
In the end, we learn that the news reports Prima is destroyed, along with the body of Andrew Kingsley, and Tanner and Senator Van Luven has died in a plane crash by a mysterious storm.