The Ways of the Dead
By Neely Tucker
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670016587, 288pp.)
Publication Date: June 12, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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"An utterly thrilling mystery set in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s, just before the Internet and the rise of smartphones changed the landscape of print journalism. . . . Meticulously plotted, fast-paced . . . Every character is fully fleshed out and the dialogue is pitch perfect. . . . For mystery and crime fiction lovers, particularly fans of Elmore Leonard, to whom Tucker dedicates his book, this is a must-read." Associated Press
The electrifying first novel in a new crime series from a veteran Washington, D.C., reporter
Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful Washington, D.C. judge, is dead, her body discovered in a slum in the shadow of the Capitol. Though the police promptly arrest three local black kids, newspaper reporter Sully Carter suspects there’s more to the case. Reese’s slaying might be related to a string of cold cases the police barely investigated, among them the recent disappearance of a gorgeous university student. A journalist brought home from war-torn Bosnia and hobbled by loss, rage, and alcohol, Sully encounters a city rife with its own brand of treachery and intrigue. Weaving through D.C.’s broad avenues and shady backstreets on his Ducati 916 motorcycle, Sully comes to know not just the city’s pristine monuments of power but the blighted neighborhoods beyond the reach of the Metro. With the city clamoring for a conviction, Sully pursues the truth about the murdersall against pressure from government officials, police brass, suspicious locals, and even his own bosses at the paper. A wry, street-smart hero with a serious authority problem, Sully delves into a deeply layered mystery, revealing vivid portraits of the nation’s capital from the highest corridors of power to D.C.’s seedy underbelly, where violence and corruption reign supremeand where Sully must confront the back-breaking line between what you think and what you know, and what you know and what you can print. Inspired by the real-life 1990s Princeton Place murders and set in the last glory days of the American newspaper, The Ways of the Dead is a wickedly entertaining story of race, crime, the law, and the power of the media. Neely Tucker delivers a flawless rendering of a fast-paced, scoop-driven newsroominvestigative journalism at its grittiest.
Neely Tucker's journalism career spans twenty-five years, fourteen of which he's spent at The Washington Post. His 2004 memoir, Love in the Driest Season, was named one of the Best 25 Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Born in Mississippi, Tucker lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Setting his tale in the 1990s . . . gives Tucker the chance to show how much newspapers have changed. The 24-hour Internet news cycle hasn’t yet taken root, tomorrow’s front page is still more important than getting the story online immediately and good reporters are dependent on door knocks, land lines and library research rather than e-mail, cellphones and Google. Tucker pulls off a neat, double-twist ending . . . There’s a lot to like in Tucker’s storytelling.”
—The Washington Post
“Tucker may be a first-time novelist, but as a career writer, he is well ahead of many of his peers, and this book is worthy of Elmore Leonard’s legacy. . . . With equal ear for newsroom patter and street slang, Tucker has presented an exciting first novel that echoes the best writing of Pete Hamill and George Pelecanos, mixed with bit of The Wire and True Detective.”
—The Miami Herald
“Gritty and masterful . . . A mystery that will leave readers waiting for the next in the series.”
"An utterly thrilling mystery set in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s, just before the Internet and the rise of smartphones changed the landscape of print journalism. . . . Meticulously plotted, fast-paced . . . Every character is fully fleshed out and the dialogue is pitch perfect. . . . For mystery and crime fiction lovers, particularly fans of Elmore Leonard, to whom Tucker dedicates his book, this is a must-read."
“A tense and gripping crime novel of race and power, but its true magic lies in the dialogue, which is textured and nuanced in the manner of Elmore Leonard, James Crumley or George Pelecanos. This is a very fine debut indeed, and one that begs for sequel after sequel.”
“Crisp, crafty and sharply observed . . . Rich yet taut description, edgy storytelling, rock-and-rolling dialogue, and a deeply flawed but compelling hero add up to a luminous first novel.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Journalist-novelist Tucker has crafted an addictive, twisty, debut, proving that crimes involving politics and sex can still surprise and thrill us. The slightly detached and cynical air will resonate with George Pelecanos readers and yet there’s a whiff of Elmore Leonard, too.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“With the emphasis on gritty urban life in a city rife with racism and blight, [The Ways of the Dead] evokes the Washington, D.C. of George Pelecanos. This riveting debut novel should spawn a terrific series.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“[An] exciting fiction debut . . . The brisk plot is punctuated by an insightful view of journalism and manipulative editors, shady politicians, and apathetic cops, while also showing residents working to create a better neighborhood. Readers will be pleased that Tucker leaves room for a sequel.”
"The Ways of the Dead is a great read. Deep characters, pitch perfect dialogue and a plot with as many curves as the Rock Creek Parkway as it moves through the side of Washington D.C. far away from the Smithsonian. Neely Tucker takes this novel up an even further notch with a story framed around the hot button issues of our time, including race, justice and the media. If this is Tucker's first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next."
—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Gods of Guilt
“From the powerful opening to the shocking finale, The Ways of the Dead delivers the very best in gritty, hard-edged suspense. Complex characters, taut dialogue, and a riveting plot all add up to one extremely excellent novel.”
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing
“Tough, exciting, always intelligent, Neely Tucker’s The Ways of the Dead captures the multi-layered corruption and cynicism—and the edge-of-the-ledge danger—of a hard-nosed former war reporter digging out a serial killer in the backstreets of Washington, D.C.”
—John Sandford, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Field of Prey
“In a textured, wholly believable Washington, D.C., simultaneously near and far from the corridors of power, Neely Tucker, in his accomplished mystery debut, has created a gripping tale of secrets and lies, malice and mayhem . . . and very dead young women.”
—Otto Penzler, Co-editor of The Best American Noir of the Century
"The Ways Of The Dead has everything you'd want from a book noir—enveloping atmosphere, flavorful characters, evocative writing, and a serpentine plot which seems to make the pages turn themselves. Neely Tucker is an impressive new talent."
—Richard North Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Loss of Innocence