Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2017
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 bestselling 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. Readers will hail this as Boylan’s triumphant return to fiction.
At the start of this madcap thriller full of hidden identities from Boylan (She's Not There), a night of goofy postcollege mischief goes horribly amiss in Philadelphia's shut-down Eastern State Penitentiary in 1980. When human remains surface at the site decades after the party, one of the six revelers, Jon Casey now a top chef in Philadelphia is charged, although the gumshoe assigned to review the cold case files senses more than a possible crime of passion has been covered up. In the interim, it appears that another party participant, a friend of Casey's, may have faked his own death. In rural Maine, freelance writer Judith Carrigan, who knew both the victim and Casey back when, knows the latter to be innocent. But to help Casey would put her family and happiness on the line. Boylan's bluff, witty prose ("my actual innocence got on his nerves") charms away any impatience with more far-fetched aspects of her loopy plot. 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.
I voluntarily received an ARC of Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan in exchange for an honest review.
This book is labeled as a mystery/thriller, but it was too slow paced for my enjoyment. There were also so many characters introduced at once that it was too hard to keep track of who was who at first. I had to reread the introductions multiple times to grasp who was who. The concept of the storyline was an interesting one and if the book had been faster paced, I probably would have enjoyed the book more and given it a higher rating.