Deadly and deep-seated political conspiracies are nothing new to Jack Flynn, the popular lead reporter of the Boston Record. But in Strangled, he finds himself in the middle of a case that everyone thought had closed forty years ago -- the Boston Strangler. From the summer of 1962 to the winter of 1964, eleven women were strangled to death in their homes. The city had been panic-stricken. Dog pounds were cleaned out. Locksmiths worked twenty-hour days. The streets emptied after dark. Single women set up phone trees to check on each other's safety. Then, a year after the eleventh murder, the city breathed a heavy sigh of relief when convicted sex offender Albert DeSalvo confessed to the killings. Eight years later, he was stabbed to death in prison, forever ridding the world of the man who had terrorized a city. Or so everyone thought.
Boston, present-day. A series of murders has occurred in which all the victims, all female, have been strangled and left with markers eerily reminiscent of those once left by the "Phantom Fiend" -- garish bows tied around their necks and their bodies ghoulishly positioned to greet investigators as they entered the crime scene.
In typical fashion, the police and local politicians have turned on their publicity machine full-throttle in an attempt to cool any rumors about the possible return of the Strangler. Little do they know that Flynn is receiving letters from the killer himself, thrusting the newsman between the threats of a madman and several secretive, uncooperative officials, who are tied to the original case. With the lives of innocent women on the line, he must use his keen journalistic skills to determine whether or not this is a copycat on the loose, or if Albert DeSalvo was, in fact, not quite the fiend everyone so easily believed him to be. Is it possible that the Boston Strangler was never captured and that he's been lurking in the shadows, waiting to kill again?
Using fiction to examine the horrifying details of the Boston Strangler case and the possible outcomes of its investigation, McGrory has written an intelligent thriller crackling with newsroom energy and chilling suspense.
Newspaper reporter Jack Flynn, last seen in McGrory's debut, The Incumbent (2000), investigates a series of contemporary murders that parallel the terrifying Boston Strangler slayings of the 1960s in the author's less than convincing fourth thriller. Somewhat improbably, Flynn must begin by probing the older case and the debate over whether the confessed strangler, Albert DeSalvo, was actually guilty. In the novel's reality, the senior Bay State senator isn't Ted Kennedy but a prosecutor who made his reputation on the DeSalvo case and who's among many in law enforcement discouraging Flynn from re-examining the official line that DeSalvo was the murderer. The sympathetic Flynn, with his train wreck of a private life, compensates for the author not probing more deeply serious questions about the real-life strangler case. Those seeking a rich, compelling look at the possible return of a serial killer would do better to turn to Peter Straub's Blue Rose and its sequels.