Instruments of Night by Thomas H. CookInstruments of Night by Thomas H. Cook

Instruments of Night

byThomas H. Cook

Mass Market Paperback | August 31, 1999

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 55 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-2 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Thomas Cook is one of today's most acclaimed writers of psychological thrillers, penning hypnotic tales of forbidden love and devastating secrets. Now he has written an unforgettable novel that weaves one man's tortured life with a deadly mystery that spans five decades....

Riverwood is an artists' community in the Hudson River valley, a serene place where writers can perfect their craft. But for all its beauty and isolation, it was once touched by a terrible crime--the murder of a teenage girl who lived on the estate fifty years ago.  Faye Harrison's killer was never caught--and now her dying mother is desperate to learn the truth about her daughter's murder.

Enter Paul Graves, a writer who draws upon the pain of his own tragic past to write haunting tales of mystery. Graves has been summoned to Riverwood for an unusual assignment: to apply the art of fiction to a crime that was real, and then write a story that will answer the questions that keep Faye's mother from a peaceful death. Just a story. It doesn't have to be true. Or does it?
Thomas H. Cook is the author of fourteen novels, including The Chatham School Affair, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel; Sacrificial Ground and Blood Innocents, both Edgar Award nominees; and two early works about true crimes, Early Graves and Blood Echoes, which was also nominated for an Edgar. He lives in New York City.
Title:Instruments of NightFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 6.9 × 4.15 × 0.65 inPublished:August 31, 1999Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553578200

ISBN - 13:9780553578201

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from another fantastic novel by Cook... There’s a really great interview with mystery writer, Thomas H. Cook, in the September ‘09 issue of January Magazine. ( In the article Ali Karim asks the very question that puzzles me every time I finish one of Cook’s novels. Why is this man not enormously famous? I mean, perhaps he is famous in mystery circles – but even if you’re not a fan of the genre, I think you should still give Cook a go. I picked up Instruments of Night on Friday night and read about 30 pages. It was late when I started and so eventually my eyes gave out. On Saturday I picked it up again and didn’t put it down until I finished – with a gasp, I must add – the book. I stumbled on Cook totally by accident three or four years back. I picked up, at a second hand bookstore, his novel Breakheart Hill and read these lines: “This is the darkest story I ever heard and all my life I have labored not to tell it.” Hooked. Instruments of Night is the fifth novel I’ve read by Cook. It’s the story of writer Paul Graves, a man who has spent his career writing about the horrible dance between serial killer and sadist Kessler (and his accomplice, Sykes) and the man who has spent his career chasing him, Detective Slovak. Instruments of Night operates on more than one level, though. Graves has almost completed the 14th installment of his series when he is invited to upstate New York to meet with Allison Davies, mistress of an estate known as Riverwood. Fifty years ago, Allison’s best friend, Faye, was murdered on the grounds and now Allison wants Paul to “imagine what happened to Faye. And why.” But that’s not all. Paul Graves is a tortured man. His own past is filled with ghosts, horrible ghosts. He is a beautifully nuanced character and I particularly admired the glimpse we got into his head as a writer. Perhaps Cook was revealing a little bit about himself there, I don’t know, but Paul’s imagination allowed him to write scenes, and adjust them as needed, on the fly. Using this technique, he attempts to solve the question of who killed Faye. The way Cook juggled the three threads of this story: the mystery of Faye’s death, the stand-off between Kessler and Slovak and the past that is creeping up on Paul is nothing short of amazing. But Cook is an accomplished writer. And this is literature. Truly. Page-turning, white-knuckling, horrifying literature. In every book I’ve read by him, I’ve been amazed at how complex his characters are and Paul is no exception. If you haven’t read Cook yet, I beg you to give him a go. He’s fabulous!
Date published: 2010-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spine Chilling!! In this book Thomas H. Cook, brings the reader on a journey with the main character. We learn about his tragic past and follow through as he tries to apply fiction to a murder that occured 50 years ago. What you find out will leave you shocked and disturbed. You'll have a hard time putting down this book, because I sure did!
Date published: 2004-11-10

Read from the Book

Looking out over the city, imagining its once-coal-blackened spires, he knew that he did it to keep his distance, that he set his books back in time because it was only in that vanished place, where the smell of ginger nuts hung in the air and horse-drawn water wagons sprayed the cobblestone streets, that he felt truly safe.It was nearly dawn, and from the narrow terrace of his apartment, Graves could see a faint light building in the east. He'd been up all night, typing furiously, following Detective Slovak through the spectral back streets of gaslight New York, the two of them--hero and creator--relentlessly pursuing Kessler from one seedy haunt to the next, the groggeries of Five Points, the whorehouses of the Tenderloin, its boy bars and child brothels, watching as Kessler's black coat slipped around a jagged brick corner or disappeared into a thick, concealing bank of nineteenth-century fog. Together, they'd questioned bill stickers and news hawkers and a noisy gaggle of hot-corn girls. They'd dodged rubberneck buses and hansom cabs and crouched in the steamy darkness of the Black Maria. For a time they'd even lingered with a "model artist" who'd just come from posing nude for a roomful of gawking strangers, Slovak mournfully aware of the woman's fate, his dark eyes watching silently as her youth and beauty dripped away, her life a melting candle. They'd finally ended up on the rooftop of a five-story tenement near the river. Slovak teetered at the brink of it as he searched the empty fire escape, the deserted street below, amazed that Kessler had done it again, disappeared without a trace. It was as if he'd found some slit in the air, slipped through it into a world behind this world, where he reveled in the terror he created.Graves glanced back into his apartment. The chaos that had accumulated during the night was spread throughout the room, small white cartons of Chinese food, dirty cups and glasses, a desk strewn with papers, his ancient manual typewriter resting heavily at the eye of it all. Compared to the sleek computer screens and ergonomic keyboards most other writers now used, the typewriter looked like a perverse relic of the Inquisition, a mechanical thumbscrew or some other infinitely refined instrument of medieval torture. Once, at an exhibition of such artifacts, Graves had seen a dagger made in the form of a crucifix, its handle cut in the shape of Christ's body to provide a better grip. Years later he'd written a scene in which Kessler had pressed an identical weapon into Sykes' trembling hand, forced him to draw it slowly across the sagging folds of an old woman's throat. Sykes. Kessler's cowering sidekick. The shivering, panicked instrument of Kessler's will.Graves took a sip of coffee and let his eyes drift out over the East River, the bridges that spanned its gray waters, cars moving back and forth on them like ants along a narrow twig. Within an hour traffic would become an unbroken stream, the noise of the city steadily increasing down below, so that even from his high aerie, perched like an eagle's nest on the fortieth floor, he'd have to close the windows to keep it out.It was nearly five hours before he had to catch a bus upstate, to the Riverwood Colony, where he'd been invited to spend the weekend. He'd need to get a little rest before then, since his mind was too easily alarmed by changing scenes, distant voices, unfamiliar smells for him ever to sleep in transit. Instead, he'd stare out the bus window, alert and edgy, as towns and villages flashed by, inventing tales as he went along. Passing an empty field, he might suddenly envision the moldering bones of some once-desperate girl, a runaway who'd knocked at the wrong door a hundred years before, young and vulnerable, pale and hungry, wrapped in a threadbare woolen shawl, snowflakes clinging to her lustrous hair, her small, childlike voice barely audible above the howl of the wind: I'm so sorry to disturb you, sir, but might I warm myself beside your fire? He could see the man beyond the door, imagine what he imagined, her quivering white breasts, the cold-stiffened nipples, feel his fingers probing the latch as he drew back to let her in, his voice, sweet, unthreatening, Of course, my dear, come in.It was always the isolated farmhouses that called up the most dreadful scenes. Graves knew firsthand the horror that could befall them, how vulnerable they were to sudden violence and death. Once, edging close to the forbidden, he'd actually described a young woman's murder in such a place, Kessler, the arch villain in all of Graves' books, directing Sykes through the brutal ritual while Slovak, Graves' tireless hero, knowing where Kessler was, what he was doing, and desperate to stop him, had pounded up the flickering, smoke-filled aisles of a stranded snowbound train, panting heavily by the time he'd finally reached the engine. But once there, he'd found the engineer too terrified by the storm to press onward, so that once again Kessler had escaped due to some unexpected cowardice, fear the servant upon which evil could most confidently rely. It was a circumstance often repeated in Graves' books, one of his abiding themes.Graves drew in a breath and felt a wave of exhaustion settle over him. He knew where the weariness had come from and why it was so heavy. He and Slovak had just trudged up five flights of stairs, slammed through a thick wooden door, and raced across a wide black roof, arriving breathless and exhausted at its edge.Now, looking out over the city, it seemed strange to Graves that within an instant he had transported himself to this quiet terrace where he stood, calmly sipping tepid coffee in the early morning light while in the world of his creation, Slovak remained on the other side of town, thirty blocks away in space and more than a century distant in time, staring out over the same enigmatic web of streets and rooftops as Kessler crept up from the rear, grinning as he drew the little silver derringer from beneath his coat, good and evil about to face each other squarely in the dawning light.

From Our Editors

Harrowing, hypnotic and haunting, Thomas H. Cook’s disturbing psychological thriller will shock you. Paul Graves witnesses the methodical torture and murder of his older sister in the summer of 1963. Thirty years later, Graves is lost in the haunted world of crime fiction as a marginally successful writer. He helps to solve the old murder of a teenage girl and reopens old wounds. He confronts the unspeakable horror that lives inside himself in Instruments of Night, an enthralling masterpiece of suspense.

Editorial Reviews

"Powerful...No other suspense writer takes readers as deeply into the heart of darkness as Cook."--Chicago Tribune"Haunting...The denouement took me by surprise and disturbed me for days."--Los Angeles Times"Hypnotic...If you've not yet been haunted by a Thomas Cook novel, now is a fine time to start."--Star Tribune, Minneapolis"This is not a novel for the faint of heart."--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"Another indelibly haunting tale that once again demonstrates that Cook is among the best in the business."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)"A once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece."--Kirkus Reviews"Disturbing."--The New York Times Book Review"Enthralling."--Seattle TimesDon't miss Thomas H. Cook's other brilliant works of suspense:Evidence Of Blood:"A highly satisfying story, strong in color and atmosphere, intelligent and exacting."--The New York Times Book ReviewThe Chatham School Affair, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel:"A seductive book."--The New York Times Book ReviewBreakheart Hill:"Expert storytelling...haunting... gains power and resonance with each twist."--Publishers WeeklyMortal Memory:"Don't pick this up unless you've got time to read it through...because you will do so whether you plan to or not."--Alfred Hitchcock Mystery MagazineAvailable wherever Bantam Books are sold