Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?
Although he’d rather face a horde of demogorgons than talk about his own past, Hopper knows that he can’t deny the truth any longer. And so begins the story of the incident in New York—the last big case before everything changed. . . .
Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show up and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.
Soon Hopper is undercover among New York’s notorious street gangs. But just as he’s about to crack the case, a blackout rolls across the boroughs, plunging Hopper into a darkness deeper than any he’s faced before.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||7 MB|
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THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
JULY 4, 1977
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The hallway was white. Walls, floor, ceiling. The works. White on white on white and it did nothing for Hopper except make him feel slightly dizzy. Snow blindness in the inner city. Imagine that.
A whole house that was white, top to bottom, every room, every level. Outside it was a Brooklyn brownstone. Inside it was an art installation. Clutching his glass of red wine by the bowl, Hopper was terrified of spilling even a drop.
Only rich people could live in a house like this, he thought, because only rich people could afford the army of cleaners it must need to keep it just so. Rich people who thought they were Andy Warhol. Rich people who were friends with Andy Warhol, or at least knew his decorator.
And they had kids, too. Two of them—twins, who, even now, were celebrating with a joint birthday party in the vast kitchen at the rear of the house, a kitchen that opened onto a lush garden surrounded by high walls, an impossible oasis hidden in the spaces between row houses, the greenery somehow surviving the baking summer heat that was turning the rest of New York into a dust bowl. The noise of the party reverberated down the spartan hallway in which Hopper had sought solace, at least for a short while, with his ill-chosen drink.
He lifted the glass and peered at the contents. Red wine at a kid’s birthday party.
Yes, the Palmers were that kind of people.
Hopper sighed and took a sip. This wasn’t how he had planned to spend the Fourth of July, but he knew he shouldn’t judge. The children—all thirty of them, nearly the whole of Sara’s elementary school class—were having a great time, being entertained by a team of professionals hired just for the occasion by the Palmers, and being fed and watered—and sugared—by a catering crew that were probably being paid more for this one gig than Hopper earned in a whole month.
It wasn’t just the children who were being entertained. The adults were too. Somewhere down the white hall, through one of the many white doors, the parents—minus Hopper—were all gathered around a show put on just for them. Some kind of magic act, someone had said. Diane had tried to persuade Hopper to come along—had even tried dragging him by one arm—but . . . a magic act?
No, he was fine right where he was. Alone. In the hallway of infinite white. With his wine.
A roar of laughter came from the kitchen, matched by an almost simultaneous roar from the other end of the hallway. Hopper looked one way, then the other, wondering which act to catch. Then, with a shake of the head as he chided himself for being a party pooper, he headed for the parents. As he opened the door at the end of the hall, he half expected to find beyond a white room with a white grand piano in the center, John Lennon at the keys, Yoko Ono draped over the top.
What he found was another reception room, one of several within the brownstone, this one perhaps slightly less stark than the rest of the house, the white walls at least broken up by the warm brown of ornate, probably original, bookcases.
Hopper clicked the door closed behind him and nodded in polite greeting to the other parents standing nearby. They were, Hopper noted, mostly the men, while around the large circular table that occupied most of the room sat the mothers and aunts, their attention fixed on the woman who sat at the “head” of the table, directly opposite the door. The woman was young and wore a red patterned scarf over her head, and sitting on the table in front of her was nothing but a goddamn crystal ball.
Hopper’s jaw tightened, but he resisted the urge to check his watch. He felt uncomfortable and out of place, apparently the only man present who hadn’t taken an invitation to a child’s birthday party as an opportunity to dress up. The other fathers were clad mostly in wide-lapel sports jackets in varying earthen shades, with ties to match.
Ah, yes, the Model T jacket and tie. Any color you like so long as it’s brown.
Suddenly Hopper didn’t feel quite so bad in his red plaid shirt and blue jeans. At least he was comfortable. Polyester in this heat was not a wise decision—as some of the men around him seemed to have discovered, given the red faces and sheen of sweat on several of them.
Hopper hid his grin in his wine glass as he drained it, and turned his attention to the scene unfolding in the middle of the room, where Diane sat with the other women—most clad in long, flowing cotton dresses that looked a lot more breathable than the men’s fashion choices—leaning in to listen as the fortune-teller stared into the crystal ball and pretended to read the future of . . . was it Cindy, Tom’s mother?
Hopper had lost track. Suddenly he felt like another glass of wine.
The fortune-teller droned on. She was younger than Hopper would have expected, although he wasn’t really sure what age group fortune-tellers were supposed to be. Weren’t they meant to be old women? Not that it mattered—this was an act, nothing more.
Hopper told himself to relax, enjoy the show, stop being such a jerk.
The round of applause that came next snapped Hopper out of his reverie. He looked around the room, and saw that the women at the table were shuffling themselves along, so the next subject was now sitting opposite the fortune-teller.
It was Diane. She laughed at something her neighbor said, then glanced over her shoulder. Her eyes lit up when she saw Hopper, and she waved at him to come over.
With a sheepish look to his fellow fathers, Hopper moved forward to stand behind Diane’s chair. His wife held her hand out and he squeezed it, then she looked back up at him with a smile.
He grinned back. “Hey, what are you looking at me for? Madame Mystique here is going to see your future.”
At that, the fortune-teller laughed. She pushed back her scarf a little and looked at Hopper. “The past, the present, the future—all ways, all paths are open to me!” She waved her hands over the crystal ball.
Diane grinned and, taking a deep breath, straightened in her chair and closed her eyes. She let her breath out slowly through her nose.
“Okay,” she said. “Lay it on me.”
The room cheered and the fortune-teller, fighting to hold back her own laughter, rolled her neck and stared intently into the crystal ball, her palms flat on the table either side of it.
The fortune-teller didn’t speak. Hopper watched as her gaze narrowed, her brows knitting together as she appeared to concentrate. There were some murmurs from the back of the room as some of the men lost interest.
“I . . . Oh!”
The fortune-teller jerked back from the crystal ball. Hopper laid his hand on his wife’s shoulder, and felt her hand rest on his.
The fortune-teller closed her eyes, her features twisted as though she was in pain. Hopper felt Diane’s grip tighten around his hand. Hopper started to feel a little uneasy. This was an act, and none of it was real, but something in the room had changed, the lighthearted feeling of fun suddenly evaporating.
He cleared his throat.
The fortune-teller opened her eyes and tilted her head as she looked into the crystal.
“I see . . . I see . . .” Then she shook her head and closed her eyes, screwing them shut tight. “There’s . . . darkness. A cloud . . . no, it’s like a wave, spreading out, sweeping over . . . sweeping over.”
Diane shifted in her chair and looked up at Hopper.
“Light . . . There’s . . .” The fortune-teller grimaced, like she’d just bitten into a lemon. “There’s . . . No, it’s not light, it’s an . . . absence. A void. Dark, a cloud, like a wave, coming in, sweeping over . . . over . . .”
The fortune-teller gasped. Diane jumped in fright, along with half of the people in the room.
Hopper shook his head. “Hey, if this is some kind of joke . . .”
The fortune-teller shook her head again, and again, and again. “A darkness. There is nothing but darkness, a great cloud, serpent black . . .”
“I think that’s enough,” said Hopper.
“The darkness is coming. A night with no end. A day with no dawn. The day of the—”
“I said that’s enough!” Hopper thumped the table with his hand. The fortune-teller’s eyes snapped open and she gulped a lungful of air. She blinked several times as she looked around the faces in the room, her own expression one of surprise, like she had just woken from a deep sleep.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It's Christmas 1984 in Hawkins, and all Chief Jim Hopper wants to do is have an easy quiet holiday with his new adopted daughter, Eleven, but she has other plans. After unearthing a box marked "New York" from the basement, Eleven starts asking questions about Hopper's past. Why did he leave Hawkins? And why has he never mentioned New York before? Hopper would rather face off against the Demogorgon again than open up about his past, but Eleven won't budge. Thus begins his tale of being a NYPD homicide detective in the summer of 1977. After returning home from two tours in Vietnam, Jim Hopper is looking to start over with his wife and young daughter. He takes a job as a detective in New York, so the family packs up and leaves Indiana in hopes of starting fresh in the Big Apple. Soon, Hopper and his feisty partner Delgado are assigned a series of unsolved brutal killings that seem almost ritualistic. Their investigations are halted once a group of shadowy federal agents swoop in and seize all their files. Hopper, not one to let anyone take away his things, decides to take matters into his own hands by going undercover into one of New York's most dangerous gangs. Just as he seems to be closing in on the truth, a blackout hits and Hopper and the boroughs are plunged into a darkness the likes of which have never been seen before. Jim Hopper is one of my favorite characters on Stranger Things, so I was immediately drawn to this story. Anything about his background and life before he became the grizzly grump we all know and love is right up my alley. It was so interesting reading about his life outside of Hawkins, and I would love it if the show touched upon it as well. What I loved most though were the little snippets in between the story of Hopper and Eleven. I absolutely love these two together. Their dynamic works so well, and you can really feel the fatherly love Hopper has for her. This was such a fast paced, action packed glimpse into Hopper's backstory and a must read for any fan of the show.
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is the second novel written as a tie in to the Stranger Things Netflix series. Like the first novel (Suspicious Minds) Darkness on the Edge of Town is a prequel. Unlike the first novel, it doesn't occur in Hawkins. Well, most of it doesn't at least. Darkness on the Edge of Town tells the story of Jim Hopper. Everything takes place well before the adventures in the TV series yet. In fact, this happens before Hopper settles back in Hawkins. Before that he was a homicide detective in NYC. Yes, you read that right. This novel occurs after Hopper's time in Vietnam, but before his daughter became ill. Just to give you an idea of where this fits in the timeline. Don't go into Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town expecting it to read exactly like an episode of Stranger Things. Jim Hopper is there, yes, and there are even cameos from Eleven. But that is the extent of the connection. This novel could be best described as a procedural crime novel, with hints towards the supernatural (but even then they're fairly slim, as they would be in any crime novel). If you go into this book expecting a crime drama, I think you'll enjoy the read. Or if you're hoping to learn more about Hopper. But if you're hoping for more along the lines of Stranger Things (or even Suspicious Minds), I think you'll be disappointed. Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town was a fun read, on the whole. I really enjoyed learning more about Hopper's past. I knew that he had gone through hell, but I don't think it really hit me just how much he had actually gone through. So this novel did a great job of reminding me that this character had a life and past well before the events in Hawkins. I enjoyed seeing Hopper back in the days where he seemed to still be truly invested in doing good. When he still had hopes and dreams for his career. It's a refreshing change (though one can argue that this spark was reignited for Hopper as the Netflix series went on). The way they tied Hopper's past and present was really quite clever. This whole novel was essentially Hopper telling El about his past. Which is cute, when you stop and think about it. Though admittedly sometimes the breaks for El to talk did break the immersion. The crime elements in this novel were fun and made me realize I should read more along the lines of this plot. I'm not sure if somebody that read a lot of crime novels would love or hate this novel. But I think it held up. My only complaint would be that it got a little meta in places – bringing real life events into the plot and trying to take credit (or blame?) for them. I really liked Hopper's partner. In a way I think I would have loved to see the whole novel from her perspective. Okay, not really. I enjoyed Hopper's side of things. I just mean that she was a really interesting character, and a good mirror for Hopper's character. I still maintain that you need to be aware of what type of novel Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town is. Because your expectations will set your experience, especially here. So please keep that in mind before picking this one up.
Just after Christmas 1984, in Hopper's cabin, Eleven finds a box labeled "New York." Within this box contains Hopper's memories from a particular time in his life when he worked for NYPD as a homicide detective. Eleven begs Hopper to tell her the story behind it and he reluctantly agrees to. The story takes place between the kitchen table in 1984 in Hopper's cabin and his time in 1977 solving a bizarre string of murders in New York and hops back and forth as Hopper relays the story to Eleven. When compared to Suspicious Minds, I feel this is a stronger, original story. It doesn't feel like an already existent episode of Stranger Things drawn out over 400 pages. There is mystery, crime, and quite a bit of action. The middle does feel a little like it is filled with some fluff. I lost some interest in the middle. There is also an attempt to bring in some of the supernatural elements and science fiction that Stranger Things is known for but I feel like they don't totally commit to it. They mentioned a few odd things that happen, and mention the MK Ultra project in one conversation, and suggest that the main antagonist may have some special powers, but that idea is completely forgotten by the end. Sooo.... did he have abilities like Eleven? Or was he just suffering from PTSD and had delusions and formed a cult? Kind of unclear. Overall I would probably give it a 3.5 because I thought it was better than Suspicious Minds but felt a little forced to fit into the Stranger Things world. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read and advanced copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
This novel, like Suspicious Minds, focuses on the backstory of one of the characters of Stranger Things. This time, it's James Hopper (played by David Harbour in the series). The novel opens on the day after Christmas, 1984, with Eleven asking Hopper to tell her a story about his past. After some persuasion, he eventually relents and tells this story. The majority of the novel is the story itself, a case that Hopper worked on while in New York, and the case ends up being pretty interesting. It starts out as a serial killer committing oddly ritualistic murders and quickly morphs into something much bigger and a bit weirder. Don't go into this novel expecting any grand revelations about Hopper's past. We don't learn what happened to his wife or his daughter in this book, two characters noticeably missing from the TV series but given decently-sized roles in the novel. Unlike Suspicious Minds - a novel that set out to reveal all the secrets behind Eleven's mom's past, Darkness on the Edge of Town is content with simply telling the story of one of Hopper's past cases and this isn't really a bad thing because the case it tells is a damn interesting one. Written like a crime novel, the mystery at the heart of Darkness on the Edge of Town unfolds at a decent pace. The audience is thrown into the case several weeks after it began - a wise decision from author Adam Christopher - and the pace never slows down from there. This mystery isn't really one that could be figured out by readers as they read it. It's less of a whodunnit and more of an insight as to how Hopper operated as a detective. Even so, it's a lot of fun watching the various elements of the case come together at the end, with everything getting explained in a pretty satisfying way. I do wish the mystery had done a bit more with some of the weirder elements that were initially introduced - this is a serial killer who kills people in a ritualistic manner in order to bring about something called "The Day of the Serpent" and then the book never really goes as far as you'd like it to with that element of the story - especially when considering it's set within the Stranger Things universe. This isn't really a big problem, though; just more of a personal taste. Overall, it's a well-written mystery that unfolds in an engaging, surprising, and satisfying way. Darkness at the Edge of Town is another deeply enjoyable entry in the growing series of Stranger Things novels. While it's significantly more grounded in reality than the previous entry and doesn't contain as many massive revelations as that first book, it's still a great exploration of a fan-favorite character. At the heart of the story is an interesting, well-written character in James Hopper and an engaging, surprising, and satisfying mystery. It's a well-written, well-paced, fast read and it should easily please fans of the series who are craving any new Stranger Things stories.
I love the televised series so was excited to read a prequel to some of those events. I was not disappointed! The characters differ somewhat from the series but not in a bad way. Very well written and kept my interest from start to finish. This is not a true mystery in the traditional sense of the word but it’s a great combination of sci-fi and mystery and even if you’ve never read sci-fi before you will enjoy this one. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced readers copy for review.
It was pretty good I guess but it could've been much better. The person who made it could've have done better much better