Iâ€™d heard of Jack the Ripper and the Yorkshire Ripper, but before I read British author Cathi Unsworthâ€™s crime novel, BAD PENNY BLUES, Iâ€™d never heard of Jack the Stripper. Jack the Stripper was the name given to a serial killer who operated in London during the 60s. His victims were young women–6 in all–whose bodies were found in 1964 and 1965. The crimes–also known as the Hammersmith Murders or the Hammersmith Nudes were never solved, but they had some features in common. The women were prostitutes and they died from strangulation. Some had teeth missing and some of the bodies bore traces of industrial paint. The police eventually connected these 6 murders with two other similar, earlier crimes. They acknowledged that the total murder toll might stretch back to include an unsolved murder committed in 1959, and that a dead woman found in 1963 was possibly yet another victim of the same killer.
THE WAY HOME begins with Chris Flynn doing time in the juvenile rehabilitation centre at Pine Ridge, Maryland â€śabout twenty-five miles from Northwest D.C.â€ť The first section of the novel concentrates on Chrisâ€™s life at Pine Ridge and the relationships he forges with the other juvenile offenders. As the only white inmate, heâ€™s known somewhat predictably as â€śwhite boy.â€ť Itâ€™s a term heâ€™s grown used to and a term he doesnâ€™t take personally. Most of the other inmates canâ€™t understand what Chris is doing there; they see him as an idiot for jeopardizing the advantages he has: loving, caring parents, a home, and a dog.
This is a short but pungent tale about crime, betrayal, passion, love, and a scar–both real and psychic. How juicy is that? Especially when you blend in the CĂ´tes du RhĂ´ne-Villages wine made from the dark-skinned Syrah, MourvĂ¨dre, and Cisault grapes. Throw in a pivotal love affair, a chateau, a virulent father, and an odious priest, and you have the crushing, pressing, and fermenting ingredients of a serious page-turner. The title refers to the legacy of the protagonist–the chateau, estate, and wine cellar he is set to inherit.
And so, after discovering a copy of DEAD I WELL MAY BE languishing unread on my bookshelf, I picked up this earlier McKinty novel wondering if the same clever use of structure would appear and whether or not McKinty is as good a storyteller as FIFTY GRAND impliedâ€¦. DEAD I WELL MAY BE is the first novel in the Michael Forsythe trilogy and begins in Ireland in the aftermath of an IRA bombing.
With his 15th novel, THE TURNAROUND, George Pelecanos has written another powerful story that permits him to expound on the themes and issues his writing has centered on: the possibility of reconciliation, the meaning of work, the issues of race and class, the importance of family and friendship, and sacrifice.
May 8, 2009
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Crime, George Pelecanos, Mid-Life Crisis Â· Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, Reading Guide, Washington, D.C.