In the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who's got a three-week jump on the police.
Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman's mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he's headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.
Based on the notorious John List murders and already compared to works by Norman Mailer and Russell Banks, DEVIL IN THE HOLE is gripping, literate, and haunting.
Praise for DEVIL IN THE HOLE …
"DEVIL IN THE HOLE is powerful stuff. Drawing on real events, Salzberg has crafted a mesmerizing tale in many voices. He masterfully drip-feeds the compelling story, funneling moments from disparate, scattered lives to define the personality of a madman. The overall effect is like slowly opening a beautifully wrapped box of poisoned chocolates." — Tim McLoughlin, editor Brooklyn Noir.
"Salzberg masterfully weaves together dozens of voices, including the killer's, in an effort to find out why a man would murder his entire family and then disappear. DEVIL IN THE HOLE is a haunting meditation on the thin, wavering line between sense and senselessness." — Kaylie Jones, author Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir, and Speak Now
"The devil isn't in the details, but in a tony Connecticut town. Charles Salzberg's DEVIL IN THE HOLE is a fine piece of crime writing and a hell of a fun read." — Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of Gun Church
In this smartly constructed crime novel, Salzberg uses multiple viewpoints to portray an unlikely killer who methodically slaughters his family … an intriguing collage of impressions and personal perspectives for the reader to ponder. — Publishers Weekly
"Salzberg does an ingenious job of weaving together the various voices — each distinct in its own right — and giving us the story as told by the people who experienced it. It paints a psychological picture of a murderer, while also telling the story of those left in the aftermath and how they were affected as well. Brilliant and captivating storytelling." — Erica Ruth Neubauer, Crimespree magazine
"Salzberg has taken a true crime tale and made it into a compelling work of fiction that attempts to imagine the mind of a killer, not only through his own mind, but through the minds of many others. This is a novel which few readers will want to put down, turning pages mostly, I think, to find out how in the world the author pulls it off. 'How,' I kept asking myself, 'how can he finish this story?' The buildup becomes more and more absorbing because Charles Salzberg has a lot to say about human nature that is thought-provokingly wise and penetrating." — Duff Brenna, South Carolina Review
"I am typically not a fan of books written in this manner but Salzberg masterfully uses this technique to create a novel that is different in an extremely good way. The author effortlessly blends the different perspectives, viewpoints, and impressions of each character into a brilliant tapestry that envelops the reader, while peaking interest and the desire for more information about the crime. DEVIL IN THE HOLE is one of the best books that I have read this year and I most highly recommend it." — Robin Thomas, New Mystery Review
In this smartly constructed crime novel, Salzberg (Swann Dives In) uses multiple viewpoints to portray an unlikely killer who methodically slaughters his family. When James Kirkland, a neighbor, notices something odd going on at the Sedgewick, Conn., home of the Hartmans, he calls the police. Inside the Georgian-style mansion, police find the neatly executed bodies of Adele Hartman, her three teenage children, and her mother-in-law. John Hartman, Adele s husband, is missing. Salzberg adroitly creates the voices of Hartman as he tries to establish a new life for himself; Charles Floyd, a senior police investigator who becomes obsessed with finding Hartman; and Kirkland, whose discovery changes his life. A slew of other characters who knew Hartman or who encounter him as he moves around provide snippets of information. The result is not a finished portrait but an intriguing collage of impressions and personal perspectives for the reader to ponder.