For fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott, a novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past, from the New York Times best-selling author of She's Not There.
On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter, and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it's not long before they realize they are locked in - and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors' lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them - celebrity chef Jon Casey - with murder. Only Casey's old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.
But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own - secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a "before" and an "after", how is it possible to live one life, not two?
Weaving deftly between 1980 and the present day, and told in an unforgettable voice, Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. Listeners will hail this as Boylan's triumphant return to fiction.
"[A] madcap thriller full of hidden identities.... And embedded in the whodunit is a heartwarming midlife love story, in which hard-won candor, tenacity, and a generous sense of humor are the most saving of graces." (Publishers Weekly)
"Boylan, who has reaped praise in recent years with memoirs exploring her transgender experience, doesn't miss a storytelling beat in her first novel as she blends atmospheric elements of a Shirley Jackson-like haunting, a secret-laden murder tale featuring an ensemble cast, and an eye-opening glimpse of the complex choices transgender people face. This crime debut is certain to attract a genre-blurring following, but recommendations to fans of Erin Kelly's The Poison Tree and Donna Tartt's The Secret History are sure bets." (Booklist)
"Boylan's twisty and entertaining thriller takes a hard look at questions of identity, love, and trust. Recommended for fans of Megan Abbott and Donna Tartt." (Library Journal)
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- Catherine Ransom
Solid literary mystery
I love authors who read their own work, and I love narrators who don't have that old-school style. Some characters really get a chance to exist more fully when I get to hear them the way the author envisions. People who prefer a more traditional narrator may want to listen to an audio sample first to get a feel for it. I really settled in to Boylan's narration, she does great voices and accents, too.
The summary spoils some thinks about the book that I wish it wouldn't, but it's hard to write around one of the major plot points. The first-person narrator of much of the book is such a great character.
It's recommended for readers of Tartt and Abbott and they are both some of my favorites. Boylan's tone and prose may not feel much like either of theirs, but this is definitely a character-driven novel more than a crime novel and in that way it does feel apt.