'Ways of the Dead' a fast-paced tale
Neely Tucker's debut novel is an utterly thrilling mystery set in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s, just before the Internet and the rise of smartphones changed the landscape of print journalism.
Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful D.C. judge, is murdered, her body discarded in a Dumpster behind a corner shop. Three black kids are arrested, and the case against them looks promising, but investigative journalist Sully Carter, who has been curating a map of homicides in the area for several years, thinks her death might be connected to a handful of unsolved cases. He ignores directives to chase other angles of the Reese murder and starts looking into a possible serial-killer case.
Carter is a recognizable type, a surly rebel who prizes his story above all. He was a war correspondent in Bosnia and is still struggling with physical and emotional wreckage from that period. His investigation is complicated by an antagonistic relationship with Judge Reese, one that threatens Carter's search for the truth — and his career. It all plays out in a meticulously plotted, fast-paced narrative that vividly renders the D.C. setting (I found myself, perhaps ironically given the setting, using Google Maps as a way of keeping track of where the action was taking place) and taps into the socioeconomic inequity that hinders so many criminal cases from attaining closure. Every character is fully fleshed out, and the dialogue is pitch perfect.
For mystery and crime fiction lovers, particularly fans of Elmore Leonard, to whom Tucker dedicates his book, this is a must-read.
Michelle Scheraga is a staff writer for the Associated Press.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.