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A Very Simple Crime (Thorndike Press Large Print Reviewers' Choice) Hardcover – Large Print, April 22, 2011

57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Jerkins's disturbing debut, Adam Lee, a successful businessman but a total creep who's on trial for murdering his depressed wife, Rachel, tells the court he didn't kill her because "I loved my wife." Adam supposedly also loves Albert, their mentally retarded grown son, who was originally accused of fatally bashing his mother's head with a crystal ashtray. Since Albert, who was institutionalized for years but was free at the time of Rachel's murder, once killed a fellow patient in a dispute over a pair of socks, the police considered him a likely suspect. Former ADA Leo Hewitt, who lost his position after helping a child killer go free, uncovers some telling clues to the killer's identity. Meanwhile, Monty, Adam's attorney brother, knows a family secret that could change everything. Jerkins juggles his plot twists like a top circus acrobat in this nasty legal noir. (Nov.) (c)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

You have to admire the purity of Jerkins's writing: He's determined to peer into the darkness and tell us exactly what he sees. 
--Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

This tale is so stylishly twisted that I read it in one sitting.
--Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gritty, sordid, disturbing and addictive.
--Richmond Times-Dispatch

Well-fashioned but extremely nasty study in abnormal psychology, which dares us to solve a mystery in which none of the normal character cues can be taken at face value.
--Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

Verdict: No one in this novel is as they appear to be, and the twists and turns never let up until the very last page. This dark, chilling debut, which has been optioned for film by screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune) is a real page-turner and should especially appeal to legal thriller fans.
-Starred Review, Library Journal, Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Thorndike Press Large Print Reviewers' Choice
  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410436284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410436283
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,160,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grant Jerkins is the author of A Very Simple Crime, which The New York Times called "An extremely nasty study in abnormal psychology." The prize-winning debut was selected by Book of the Month Club, Mystery Guild, QPB, The Literary Guild, and Doubleday Book Club; and has since been optioned for film by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nicholas Kazan.

Jerkins is also the author of At the End of the Road, The Ninth Step, and coauthor of Done in One.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on September 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Here's a first novel worthy of some of the good noir I've read. The title is dripping with irony; the writing style is very simplistic. Don't let it fool you. This is no ordinary murder mystery or legal thriller. The book has one of the most twisted plots AND some of the most twisted characters I've ever seen. Insanity runs rampant. Adam Lee and his brother Monty are some real tales from the Dark Side. The story is surrounded by darkness and violence, as well as fraud, deception and greed. Nobody really has any redeeming features. I was actually scared of Adam by the end of Part One. That is good writing. It's a big question who kills Adam's wife Rachel, and it's far from obvious, because everyone is always setting up everyone else. The characters may all be straight out of a psycho ward, but I couldn't put the book down. I should mention it is a very fast read, can be read in a day if you have time. I think this is much more of a thriller than a mystery or police procedural, and I felt it was a good choice from Vine.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rich Stoehr on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Every crime tells a story - especially murder. The motivations, the events, the hidden desires...sometimes it really is simple, and sometimes it only seems that way.

'A Very Simple Crime' tells just such a story, one that seems all too familiar. A man trapped in a marriage and a life he doesn't want, looking for a way out. He goes away for a weekend with a lover and returns to find his wife dead, and his disabled son traumatized. It seems simple, at first.

What keeps Grant Jerkins' tale of murder moving is smart shifts in perspective and a well-paced plot. The story begins with Adam Lee, the husband, detailing his life and his attempts to get away from it. Just as his story seems to be reaching a critical point, the perspective shifts to Leo Hewitt, a prosecuting attorney whose career is stalled and who sees an opportunity to make a new name for himself. Though the answers seems obvious to others on the case, he pursues it with determination. He looks under the covers and in the closets and finds buried secrets and hidden lives.

But is what he finds real? Or is he trying so hard that he's telling a new story for his own gain?

'A Very Simple Crime' is not a perfect book. Some of the characters are a little flat and some of the plot developments are a little hard to buy into. But these are minor failings and Jerkins still succeeds admirably in showing the complex, multilayered mystery of a murder that reaches deep into the psyche of the murderer.

'A Very Simple Crime' takes the crime story to a new level, with the understanding that telling the story of a murder requires some inspiration and even invention for the person telling it. Whether that person is the murderer or the one investigating the murder, the story is a little different for everyone. Even what seems a simple crime has complex and unexpected roots, for everyone involved.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Good Life on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Several reviewers have already rehashed the story line, so I will spare you a redundant synopsis and focus instead on the writing itself. After all, we don't just buy a book for the storyline but also for the author's skill in creating compelling characters, dialogue and action.

A Very Simple Crime is a fitting title, as the book is written simply as well: not much excessive dialogue or prose. Our protagonist, the anti-hero, Adam Lee, writes in the first person as he contemplates his marriage to a woman who can best be described as completely insane; his adoration of his older brother, the handsome and successful lawyer Monte; his detached and eventually deliberately cruel treatment of his mistress; and how he's going to get himself off the hook for allegedly killing his wife. And of course, we can't forget his decidedly non-parental attitude toward his mentally retarded adult son, whose history of violence toward his mother and an institutional roommate (he killed the guy over an argument about socks) leads authorities to initially conclude Albert is the killer. As the story progresses, Adam almost matter-of-factly reveals himself as a true sociopath; it's creepy and downright chilling to read his thoughts, and to learn about his childhood memories with Monte. You aren't sure of his guilt or innocence until the very end when the truth is revealed.

The rest of the characters who are significant enough to have a voice in this novel are voiced in omniscient third person, so the reader gets somewhat inside their heads but not quite as much. Kind of like what you'd see in a movie or TV show with a narrator. It was a very effective technique for building character and intrigue, and for showing how evil or self-absorbed (or just seriously, seriously messed up) they are.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Adam Lee married Rachel even knowing she was unstable, as the scars on her wrists affirm. After they marry, her mental state became worse as she was convinced Adam was cheating; she wrecked the car of someone flirting with her husband. They had a child, Albert who was mentally and physically behind his peers. At fourteen he was emotionally equivalent to a five year old and his intelligence also was that of a five year old. When he almost killed his mom, Albert was placed in an institution where he killed his roommate.

Albert resides in a high security private institution for hardcore cases. His father lives a life of quiet desperation. Many years later, Adam brings his adult son home, but goes away for a weekend with Violet Perkins. When he returns home, he finds his wife dead and their son has blood all over him. Disturbed for enabling a notorious child-killer going free, Assistant District Attorney Leo Hewitt sees this case as a chance for redemption. The circumstantial evidence points to Albert, but the ADA believes Adam killed his wife; the motive is ,in his opinion, to escape from a lunatic spouse. He arrests Adam for murdering his wife. Adam's brother lawyer Monty defends his sibling, who has a few dead rabbits to pull out of his hat.

Told in the first person by Adam, A Very Simple Crime is a terrific legal thriller that grips the audience early on, but it is the latter twists that keep the reader alert for more. Starting with marrying mentally unstable Rachel because she is the only heir to her father's multimillion dollar estate, Monty explains his brother does not always make good decisions but that does not make him a cold blooded killer. Grant Jenkins provides readers with a great chilling thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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