Monday, June 29, 2015

book review: Murder, D.C.

The backstory: Neely Tucker's first mystery novel featuring Sully Carter, The Ways of the Dead, was one of my favorite reads last year.

The basics: Murder, D.C. picks up shortly after the events of The Ways of the Dead, and it contains some spoilers from that novel. Here, Billy Ellison, the only son of DC's most influential black family is found dead in Frenchman's Bend, an unsavory part of town with deep historical roots. Veteran journalist and former war correspondent Sully Carter uses his connections to solve the crime and write the story.

My thoughts: Sully Carter is a fascinating and complicated character. Much like Harry Bosch, he's an antihero of sorts. I find myself rooting for him most of the time, but I did wince at him a few times in this novel. I appreciate his complexity because it mimics the mystery itself. A whodunit can seem simple, but murder isn't typically committed in a vaccuum. Knowing who did it is only part of the story. In Murder, D.C., the murder itself is perhaps the least interesting mystery.

This passage from my review of The Ways of the Dead works just as well for Murder, D.C.: "I typically prefer my mysteries to feature law enforcement, but the set-up of this mystery would be unlikely, if not impossible, to tell via a traditional investigation. It takes a journalist to see the patterns, and his neighborhood contacts, including those in law enforcement, share with him what they wouldn't share with others--mostly due to his long-established relationships with those contacts, but also to his reputation as a journalist. Tucker writes with reverence for the veteran journalist." In Murder, D.C., I particularly appreciated the relationships Sully has with the police. They work together in interesting ways, and both acknowledge they rely on one another.

Favorite passage: "People liked to get upset about homicide, Sully thought, phone in hand, acting like it was the worst thing ever done, something no civilized society would stand for...and yet most cases went unsolved because no one who knew enough cared to get involved. The shooters who got away with killings weren't brilliant. They just killed people nobody really cared about."

The verdict: Murder, D.C. cements Neely Tucker as a not only a damn good mystery writer but also one concerned with social justice and history. Like The Ways of the Dead, Murder, D.C. is a compelling mystery with complicated themes. Thankfully, it works on both levels. It's riveting, informative, and it will leave you thinking.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 304 pages
Publication date: June 30, 2015
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Murder, D.C. from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Neely Tucker's websitelike him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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