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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Ways of the Dead: A Novel

While I was at Book Expo this past week, the number one question I asked publishers when checking out a book was, "But does someone get killed?" I just want murder and mayhem. I got it with Neely Tucker's The Ways of the Dead.

A judge's young daughter is found murdered across the street from her dance studio in a shady part of Washington, D.C. Newspaper reporter Sully Carter is on the case, and he quickly discovers that the three boys arrested are small-time cover ups for something much bigger than anyone expects. There have been previous disappearances and murders within the same block; is it possible that these are all connected? Why does no one--police, his boss, the neighborhood--want Sully to pursue these leads? Is the secret too big to come out?

Yeah, I was sold on this one from the first chapter. It is rare (for me, anyway) that a book opens with such a creep-tastic scene that every single female I know is frightened of, one that gave me a cold chill. I have nightmares about it, so I guess maybe this wasn't, like, the best thing for me to read, but it hooked me immediately and I was all in. The only thing about that opening scene--you don't get all of the information. So don't jump to conclusions too quickly.

There is also Sully. Oh, Sully. He is a damaged (both physically and emotionally) human being, having seen humans act worse than anyone could ever imagine. He covered wars in other countries, ones so brutal and inhumane that nothing could surprise him in the crime-ridden areas of our nation's capital. I love how scheming he is; he gives his work all he's got even though he may be an alcoholic bordering on a nervous breakdown. He was a fantastic character, one with heart and full of honesty even if it means being a broken person.

This book takes place in the late 1990's at a time when people still depended on their newspapers and before technology has reached the lengths it currently has. Sarah, the first victim, may have been saved if she had her cell phone on her. In 2014 she wouldn't have left the dance studio without it. In 1999, what a different story. It is fascinating to read a "period piece" (because yes, folks, it is!) set 15 years ago when time seems to have stood still yet everything about our lives is different. If these murders had taken place today, would the nation still be riveted on them? Who is to say. We may never know. Here's hoping, anyway.

Hard copy for purchase below:

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