Review: The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker (5/5)

Tuesday 17 June 2014
‘The Ways of the Dead is a great read. If this is Tucker’s first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next.’ Michael Connelly

TRUE DETECTIVE meets HOUSE OF CARDS in the electrifying first novel of a new crime series from a veteran Washington, D.C., reporter

The body of the teenage daughter of a powerful Federal judge is discovered in a dumpster in a bad neighbourhood of Washington, DC. It is murder, and the local police immediately arrest the three nearest black kids, bad boys from a notorious gang.

Sully Carter, a veteran war correspondent with emotional scars far worse than the ones on his body, suspects that there's more to the case than the police would have the public know.

With the nation clamouring for a conviction, and the bereaved judge due for a court nomination, Sully pursues his own line of enquiry, in spite of some very dangerous people telling him to shut it down.

It seems that I keep finishing books and repeating myself by saying how brilliant they were but that really is the case with this book! Stunningly written with such brilliant and believable characters alongside such an intricately woven and gripping storyline this is one of the most enjoyable crime fiction novels I've read in a long time and has left me very excited at what is to come in the future. Usually I take no notice of the text on the front cover of a book, usually it's exaggerated however 'TRUE DETECTIVE meets HOUSE OF CARDS' did sound pretty exciting and it definitely lived up to that. Tucker has written such an authentic and realistic story (which I found out is based loosely on true events after reading!). Stories like this are all the more enjoyable but also scary because of how believable they are.

My knowledge and familiarity with the darker side of Washington comes only from James Patterson's Alex Cross novels. Whilst nobody is going to argue that series should receive literary awards, Patterson does capture that side of Washington quite well. However Tucker captures it incredibly well. Given his background it's no great surprise but settings wise I haven't read a book that introduced me to a world and made it feel like I was an actual, living part of the book as much as this one did for a long time. Character wise they don't come much better than Sully Carter. In fact every character in this book was really well developed, believable and all had a role to play in the book.

Sully is a reporter and has been for a long time, after a serious incident whilst reporting in a war zone he is no longer able to do the job he once loved and must settle for being a reporter back in the US. With his boss constantly breathing down his neck however it's not a prospect he really relishes and so he appears quite disillusioned. The daughter of a well known judge is found murdered and dumped in the seedier side of Washington. Straight away there is of course huge interest from the police and the press, a hell of a lot more than there was for the murder(s) of black girls which hardly appeared in the press and were soon forgotten. After three young black men are arrested for the murder it appears to be case solved. Sully thinks otherwise however. I always like reading about the characters who refuse to take no for an answer, who fight for what they believe in and go against their superiors when they need to. Sully is that character and takes it upon himself to find out the real truth behind the murders, no matter the cost to himself.

As always it's hard to discuss the book further without giving away plot details. Echoing what I said in the opening chapter crime fiction books do not get much better than this one. I honestly cannot recommend it enough. After starting it a few nights ago at around 10.30pm I was still reading long into the night when I should have been asleep. This book will suck you in, grip you and not let go until you reach the dramatic end (and what an ending!). An absolutely brilliant book and I will be at the front of the queue for Neely Tucker's next one!

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