An audacious thriller from a major new talent
Life isn't panning out for Maureen Coughlin. At twenty-nine, the tough-skinned Staten Island native's only excitement comes from . . . well, not much. A fresh pack of American Spirits, maybe, or a discreet dash of coke before work. If something doesn't change soon, she'll end up a "lifer" at the Narrows, the faux-swank bar where she works one long night after another. But just like the island, the Narrows has its seamy side.
After work one night, Maureen walks in on a tryst between her co-worker Dennis and Frank Sebastian, a silver-haired politico. When Sebastian demands her silence, Maureen is more than happy to forget what she's seen—until Dennis turns up dead on the train tracks the next morning. The murder sends Maureen careening out of her stultifying routine and into fast-deepening trouble. Soon she's on the run through the seedy underbelly of the borough, desperate to stop Sebastian before Dennis's fate becomes her own.
With The Devil She Knows, Bill Loehfelm has written a pitch-black thriller in a fresh, compulsively readable voice, with pages that turn themselves. This is the real deal: a breakout novel by a writer whom Publishers Weekly has praised for his "superb prose and psychological insights."
Loehfelm delivers on the promise of his first two crime novels, Fresh Kills and Bloodroot, with this terrific drama about a barmaid who tangles with a sadistic and well-connected killer. When 29-year-old Maureen Coughlin catches her boss, Dennis, in a sexual tryst with a local politician, Frank Sebastian, early one morning after her shift at the Narrows, a Staten Island bar, Maureen tries to forget what she saw. But the discovery of Dennis's body later that day on nearby train tracks ensures that she can't put the incident behind her. Sebastian begins to stalk Maureen, leaving threatening messages and sending men to break into her house. With the help of aging detective Nat Waters, who has some secrets of his own, Maureen tries to fight back. Loehfelm expertly ramps up the suspense, taking the reader on a dark ride, not just through the seedier side of Staten Island but into Nat Waters's own past, when he and Sebastian were young cops. Author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The book was good and I liked the plot and the characters. The one thing I could have done without was the constant and interminable smoking references.
I myself don't smoke and I find it an annoying habit, the is that good that I found myself getting annoyed at the characters for smoking. As I said, a good book. It would have been twenty five pages shorter if his editor had advised him to not overdo the smoking nonsense.
Nothing believable about any of it.
Not impressed. I usually don't finish books that I can't believe were published, let alone praised. But this one I did so that in itself means it may be deserving of TWO stars and not just one. The author is married to a woman who is a writer so maybe I'm wrong here, but the "voice" of the book's heroine does not ring true. She thinks and talks to the reader like I think men just think women think and talk...this writer needs lessons from Wally Lamb before writing another book about a woman. There is not even one believable character in this entire book...good or bad, they're all not ringing remotely believable.