When the Stars Go Dark

Pages: 384
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Point Blank

When the Stars Go Dark

New York Times Bestseller

Paula McLain

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a fast-paced thriller and a hauntingly suspenseful deep-dive into trauma 
9780861541973 (7 Apr 2022)
RRP £8.99
9780861540808 (13 May 2021)
RRP £14.99

The Book


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a bold combination of true crime, psychology and a hint of the metaphysical.

‘A novel of both great sadness and great beauty; a gripping story drenched in the exquisite allure of the natural world.' Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

‘A tour de force of literary suspense. It pulled me under and left me gasping.' Christina Baker Kline, author of The Exiles

‘Visceral and hauntingly suspenseful.' Aimee Molloy, author of The Perfect Mother


A missing girl.

A lost detective.

The case that brings them together.

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective living in San Francisco. When unspeakable tragedy strikes, she turns to the Californian village of Mendocino to grieve. Seeking comfort in the chocolate-box village she grew up in, Anna instead arrives to news that a local girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of a crucial time in Anna's childhood, when an unsolved murder changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna is forced to confront the darkest side of human nature.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 384
Imprint Point Blank


About the Author

Paula McLain is the New York Times bestselling author of Love and Ruin, Circling the Sun, The Paris Wife, and A Ticket to Ride, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in New York Times, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, Guardian, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio with her family.


‘A superior psychological thriller... Paula McLain focuses on the victims rather than the abductors in a gripping serial-killer story that is also a sensitive study of grief.'

- Times Crime Club

‘A powerhouse of a novel that is guaranteed to keep the reader up all night. When the Stars Go Dark is a beautifully written, sharply observed literary thriller with an extraordinary, unforgettable heroine and a twisty plot with a surprise ending... A gripping story drenched in the exquisite allure of the natural world.'

- Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

‘McLain puts her heroine in mortal peril to deliver the kind of heartpounding conclusion that thriller fans crave. As a bonus, avid readers of the genre will be pleased to find they've picked up several kernels of intellectual nourishment along the way. In the end, a book full of darkness lands with a message of hope.'

- New York Times Book Review

‘A lyrical and quietly devastating novel.' 

- Mirror

‘With this breathtaking novel, Paula McLain proves she can do anything. Exquisitely written, immersive, and atmospheric, When the Stars Go Dark is a tour de force of literary suspense. It pulled me under and left me gasping.'

- Christina Baker Kline, author of The Exiles

‘Fuelled by pure high anxiety. . . When the Stars Go Dark is an atmospheric and intricately plotted suspense novel.'

- Washington Post

When the Stars Go Dark is a fantastically propulsive and deeply atmospheric novel that grabs you from the very first page. It's visceral and hauntingly suspenseful. Paula McLain has proven to be a masterful storyteller no matter the genre.'

- Aimee Molloy, author of The Perfect Mother

‘Paula McLain, already established as the master of the historical novel, now explodes into crime fiction with a richly satisfying, tremendously moving mystery - haunting, poignant, lyrical, urgent, unique, unforgettable.'

- Chris Pavone, author of The Paris Diversion

‘I loved Paula McLain's When the Stars Go Dark, which is the beautifully written and positively profound story of Detective Anna Hart... The twisty plot keeps the pages flying, and McLain's lyrical and poetic prose reveals insight after insight about the human heart, making this riveting read not only an engrossing psychological thriller, but crime fiction of the highest order.'

- Lisa Scottoline, author of Someone Knows

‘Lyrical and beautiful, When the Stars go Dark is a riveting deep dive into trauma, survival and obsession. With her deeply flawed and utterly compelling heroine, elegant prose and layered, twisting story, Paula McLain has penned an extraordinary novel of literary suspense, as gripping as it is unique and unforgettable.'

- Lisa Unger, author of Confessions On The 7:45

'Stunning... McLain matches poetic prose with deep characterisations as she shines a light on the kindness in her characters' souls. Fans of literary suspense won't be able to put this one down.'

- Publishers Weekly

‘A total departure for the author of The Paris Wife, McLain's emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller entwines its fictional crime with real cases - including Polly Klaas's 1993 kidnapping - and is enriched by her own experiences as a survivor of trauma.'

- PEOPLE, Book of the Week

‘[McLain's] newest novel weaves together actual missing persons cases and trauma theory to explore the meaning of fate, redemption and human connection. This mystery will keep you guessing, and stay with you long after you finish. Dive in.' 


‘Paula McLain . . . focuses her gimlet eye on the not-so-sunny underbelly of California in this gripping new novel about a San Francisco detective who can't seem to outrun her past.'

- Town & Country

‘A psychological thriller that deftly evokes both the entrancing landscape of the Mendocino hills and the rough terrain of shattered lives . . . Most memorable of all are the girls, past and present, who emerge here not as convenient victims but as vulnerable, believable characters. A muted yet thrilling multilayered mystery enriched by keen psychological and emotional insight.'

- Kirkus Reviews

‘[A] stunning and atmospheric crime novel . . . A complex mystery that you will have you glued to the page.'

- Book Riot

‘We're thrilled to sink our teeth into this atmospheric read.'

- BuzzFeed

‘McLain offers readers flashes of insight . . . that will linger after the last, tension-packed pages of this thoughtful work. Recommend to patrons seeking a next read after Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark and the TV show Criminal Minds.'

- Booklist

‘This melancholy but gripping tale uses backstory and flashbacks to propel the mystery forward. Part suspense, part self-discovery tale, this first attempt at crime fiction from historical fiction author McLain (The Paris Wife) is hard to resist. Fans of the author's other works will not be disappointed.'

- Library Journal

‘The author of The Paris Wife harnesses heavy suspense for her fifth novel. A detective seeks refuge from a personal tragedy in Mendocino, the Northern California town where she spent her youth, when she confronts a missing persons case that harkens back to a traumatic disappearance from her past.'

- EW.com

‘In Anna Hart, Paula McLain has created a vulnerable, intelligent, unforgettable protagonist whose interior life is as interesting as the mysteries she has to solve. When the Stars Go Dark is simultaneously suspenseful and moving - my favourite kind of book. I'll recommend it far and wide.'

- Liz Moore, author of Long Bright River

‘Paula McLain's absolutely incredible literary thriller about the human journey on the way to solve a mystery includes parts of her own experience in foster care mixed in with her reflections on abandonment and belonging in this genre-bending novel.'

- GMA.com

‘[An] emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller.' 

- People Magazine

‘McLain weaves together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a touch of the metaphysical in this gripping tale that will keep you up all night, muttering "just one more chapter” to yourself.'

- E! Online

When the Stars Go Dark is truly an intimate and illuminating experience. Kudos to McLain for laying her soul bare and penning the most personal book she's ever written.'


- BookTrib


- Literary Review

‘This is a thought-provoking book that will - quite deservedly - stay with you for a very long time.  I think it is a book that almost everybody will gain from reading.'


- Mystery People