Sarah Reese was murdered in a bad neighborhood in Washington D.C. while waiting for her mother to pick her up from dance class. She was not the first girl to die in the area, but she was the first white girl, setting off a storm of media attention.
Three young African American men had been taunting her before she ran off, and they were easy arrests for the police anxious to solve the case. But reporter Sully Carter pieces together a more likely scenario of a serial killer, based on the number of young women missing and dead in the area. His bosses at the paper and the police don’t agree but he sticks to his guns and does his own investigation, fighting authority every step of the way.
If this story sounds familiar, it should – it is based on the Princeton Place murders that occurred in the late 1990’s. Tucker is a journalist and placing her story back in the 90’s time frame allows the newspaper to be the place for news, rather than the way the Internet is today.
Carter is a great character with enough baggage and intrigue to keep around for more stories. Reminiscent of George Pelecanos’ Washington D.C., Tucker writes about the gritty urban city rife with racism and blight rather than the usual political chicanery. This riveting debut novel should spawn a series.
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8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE WAYS OF THE DEAD by Neely Tucker. Viking Adult (June 12, 2014). ISBN 978-0670016587. 288p.