A Common Ordinary Murder (Hardcover)

By Donald Pfarrer

Random House, 9781400066902, 320pp.

Publication Date: August 5, 2008



In the Chicago Tribune, Alan Cheuse described Donald Pfarrer’s novel The Fearless Man as “the gold standard for any other fiction to come out about the [Vietnam] war.” Now, in this new novel, Pfarrer presents another kind of war, the one in America’s streets, with the same kind of excitement, style, and power.

Steven McCord, a lieutenant of police in a fairly large midwestern city, has been coarsened by twenty years’ exposure to violence and cruelty. At forty-two, he has reached a crossroads in his career and in his life. He’s been entrusted with command of one of his city’s toughest districts, and as a senior lieutenant, he is poised for promotion to captain. But instead he’s studying law–because he wants out. His old mentor, Sergeant Hughes, fears that McCord will soon enter into that most contemptible of all legal specialties, criminal defense. McCord denies it, but in truth he doesn’t know exactly where he’s going to end up.

Then comes the “common ordinary murder” of an old eccentric–a resident of McCord’s district–and with it a personal crisis for McCord. Having given up on God long ago, he now seems to be losing faith in humanity as well. But something about the case draws him, against his will, deeper into the lives of the victim and his family, pulling McCord back to a place where he will know again the passion and pain of being alive.

Written in the intense, clear-cut style that is Donald Pfarrer’s trademark, A Common Ordinary Murder is a gripping story of crime and punishment; it is also the drama of one man’s test of love and strength.

Advance praise for A Common Ordinary Murder:

“A number of intriguing, complicated characters; a particularly heinous crime; solid police work; and a poignant sketch of a city in decline are good reasons to read this one . . . really an examination of faith, its loss, marriage, and love.”

About the Author

Donald Pfarrer is the author of "The Fearless Man," "Cold River," "Neverlight," and "Temple and Shipman." Pfarrer was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V and the Purple Heart in Vietnam. On completing his service he covered the antiwar movement for the "Milwaukee Journal," and then shifted to reporting on crime and politics. His work for the "Journal" earned him the American Political Science Association's award for excellence in public affairs reporting. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the father of two daughters. He lives with his wife, Anne Burling, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.