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The Confession (Hard Case Crime) Mass Market Paperback – March 29, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Edgar-nominee Stansberry's compelling and incredibly dark modern noir shocker, forensic psychologist Jake Danser alternates between his day job—interviewing murder suspects then testifying to their culpability—and bedding as many women as possible without letting his beautiful wife catch on. When one of his mistresses ends up dead, the focus turns on Danser, and a weighty knot of a psychological puzzle begins to slowly unravel. Danser is a fascinating narrator because he's a shifty one, telling his story in small, measured bits ("it is true, there are a few things I haven't mentioned here about Angela and myself," he says nearly halfway into the story); the things going on in the world outside him are almost of secondary interest to what is going on inside his head. While the Hard Case series consciously strives for a pulp feel with retro artwork and packaging, the writing itself is infused with a modern sensibility—after all, Philip Marlowe never said anything like "for a minute I was a man within the void, and it was the void that imagined me." Stansberry pours on the blood and guts in places, so much so that readers may want to take a shower upon finishing, but lovers of industrial strength neo-noir will savor the book's thoroughly seamy atmosphere.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Domenic Stansberry has been nominated three times for the Edgar Allan Poe Award and received the Edgar for his Hard Case Crime novel The Confession.  He received his earlier nominations for The Spoiler and The Last Days of Il Duce (also nominated for the Hammett Prize). His other novels include Manifesto For the Dead, an evocative look at the latter days of pulp writer Jim Thompson.  
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Product Details

  • Series: Hard Case Crime (Book 6)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857683187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857683182
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The epilogue really seems to serve very little purpose.
M. Phillips
The Mystery Writers of America gave the Edgar for best paperback original to The Confession.
Chuck Emerson
Intelligent, psychological, twisted, and a perfect ending.
Noirgirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on November 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jake Danser is in a hell of a fix. His wife Elizabeth has found out about his mistress Sara and wants a divorce. Sara wants a commitment but Jake want to save his marriage. In the meantime, Elizabeth has taken up with local prosecutor Minor Robinson during the separation. When Sara is found strangled with a tie very similar to Jake's own, he becomes the prime suspect and Robinson is determined to prove him guilty. Could he be guilty? Well, he does have this disorder where he blacks out for periods of time...

Author Domenic Stansberry successfully utilizes the "confessional" style made most famous by Edgar Allan Poe is such tales as "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." Luckily, Danser does not deluge us with the same multiple protestations regarding his samity as Poe's protagonists did. Stansberry's skillful prose style also lends a level of credence to The Confession, which is essentially a "didhedoit" where the lead character seems often as clueless as the readers.

Danser tells his own story, ten years after, so at the very least, we know he's not dead, but we don't know where he's telling it from (I had assumed it was prison). The confessional style works well for this tale of a man who doesn't seem entirely sure of his own innocence, keeping the all-important doubt in the reader's mind all the way through this highly suspenseful novel. It's easy to see how Stansberry was nominated for two previous Edgar Allan Poe awards: he really knows his way around the psychological crime genre.

The cover, by artist Richard B. Farrell (using his own hands and his wife as models), again represents the inside contents well. The title of the book would seem to give away the ending, but any mention of the ending at all is bound to be a giveaway of some sort. I'll just say, in the sensationalistic style of publishing blurbs everywhere (it doesn't seem entirely inappropriate for this line): "I confess! I was astounded by The Confession."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Phillips on March 4, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have heard a lot of people call this "a gripping Mystery." However, the author all but tells you the answer in the first fifty pages. Then he tries to throw you off in the last fifty. He does it by shifting the focus and saying; if this were not first person you wouldn't know how things are going.

The narrator is very obviously unreliable. Due to his obvious lack of honesty the book ends up twisting in the wind looking for a way to be interesting and fails. It seems like psychology is supposed to be what draws the reader in. To that end, there is an attempt at deep psychological self-analysis. All of the analysis ends up feeling superficial. The analysis feels like it came from a single afternoon of research. It doesn't feel like several years of education or expert knowledge. The psychological hypothesizing actually works against the story in a very real way.

Also, as many others have said, the ending is horrid. The epilogue really seems to serve very little purpose. It reinforces what we already know and does very little to add anything to the story. The ending may have been intended to make the reader uneasy and strike a note of fear. In my opinion it felt a lot like filler used to stretch the word count.

I must admit that Stansberry did a good job of fulfilling the character. The dialogue and word choice is highly fitting. Stansberry's description of events and locations stay firmly in character. Also the character's actions seem to be logical for his personality. Stansberry allowed the protagonist to tell his story and kept his own voice nearly muted. Such self-censoring is something not seen often enough in modern literature. For that reason alone I give the story a two star rating.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Noirgirl on February 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a truly outstanding noir mystery and completely deserves the Edgar. Layered, psychological, twisted, scary and perfect in every way. One of those rare and totally satisfying mysteries that also can be read on a whole new level once you know how it ends, so you will want to read again immediately after finishing it. I was amazed at how perfect it was in every way.

It's hard to review this book without giving away the twist that really makes it fantastic. If you have read some of the other reviews or are familiar with noir themes, you may have figured it out already, but boy, is it done well! This is a very psychological book, and I will just say that the twist comes into play a bit before the halfway point (or maybe earlier, if you are more perceptive than me) when the reader realizes that all is not as it seems. Then, what starts out as a pretty formulaic (but still very well-written!) detective novel becomes increasingly unique and interesting.

This novel, like a lot of good noir films (and books for that matter), starts out a little slow and builds to a fantastic, dramatic crescendo. Yes, it's dark, but it's also great. Intelligent, psychological, twisted, and a perfect ending. Extremely well-written and satisfying. My favorite Hard Case Crime book yet by far, The Confession is unique and not to be missed.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph P. Menta, Jr. VINE VOICE on July 1, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can take an unrelentingly grim and/or dark character in my mysteries, but such characters are easier to take when there are a few positive/brighter characters stirred into the mix, too. I won't reveal too much in this review, but here the entire story is told by a character who, in addition to emotionally and sexually abusing his wife on a regular basis, may be responsible for one murder or several murders.

This is one of those stories told entirely from the perspective of one character, a character whose narration may not be entirely trustworthy. Actually, to be more accurate, the author's story is more subtle and skillful than that: the narrator is actually entirely trustworthy, but one has to read very closely and, more importantly, in between the lines to get the whole story the narrator is telling us.

Still, you have to be able to get into a good, grim crime story involving dark obsessions or you probably won't enjoy this novel very much. I can take stories like this occasionally, but after reading "The Confession", I'm ready for a regular run-of-the-mill mystery featuring a wise-cracking detective trying to solve a routine murder case.

But, make no mistake, if you're in the mood for this sort of thing, Mr. Stansberry is the real deal. I'll definitely read something of his again... after I take a bit of a break after reading this story.
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