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The Strangler Hardcover – January 30, 2007

185 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Boston in 1963, Landay's engrossing crime novel is less about the titular strangler than the three Irish-American Daley brothers: Ricky, a thief; Michael, a lawyer; and Joe, a bent cop. A year earlier, the Daleys' father, also a cop, was fatally shot on the job, and the killer has never been caught. The father's partner on the force, Brendan Conroy, has insinuated himself into the family to the point that he's now sleeping with the brothers' mother, Margaret, and is a permanent fixture at Sunday dinner, much to the disgust of Michael and Ricky. Landay (Mission Flats) movingly explores the bonds of family and basic questions of honesty and loyalty. While the novel suggests another killer than the historical Boston Strangler, the emphasis remains on such themes as crime and punishment, love and honor, truth and justice. (Feb.)
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Review

“Troubled cops, revenge-hungry mob bosses, dead women--these are the things that make life interesting.... [The Strangler has] plenty of violence, suspense and family intrigue.”—Esquire.com

“Landay movingly explores the bonds of family and basic questions of honesty and loyalty.... The emphasis remains on such themes as crime and punishment, love and honor, truth and justice.”—Publishers Weekly

“Complex.... This character-driven novel ...[unfolds] against the backdrop of the oppressive atmosphere of 1963 Boston. People are reeling from the assassination of JFK and the still-on-the-loose Boston Strangler.”—USA Today

“Landay has a marvelous ear for dialogue and for relationship complexities, smartly emphasizing the impact of crime instead of on the crimes in particular.”—Baltimore Sun

“Mr. Landay combines a fictional investigation of the Strangler's killings with a chronicle of three brothers.... The result is a gripping, atmospheric saga in which the official version of many matters (both criminal and civil) bears little resemblance to the truth.”–Wall Street Journal
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336154
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Landay's latest novel is the New York Times bestseller "Defending Jacob." His previous novels are "Mission Flats," which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel of 2003, and "The Strangler," which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.

Visit the author at www.williamlanday.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/williamlanday

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
William Landay's sophomore effort is a somewhat different work --- both structurally and topically --- from MISSION FLATS. But his stellar craftsmanship shines through; if anything, THE STRANGLER surpasses its predecessor.

Though a work of fiction, THE STRANGLER is set in the real world of 1963. The nation is reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; for Boston, it is a devastating blow, as the city is already traumatized by a series of rapes and murders committed by a fiend whom the press has dubbed "The Boston Strangler." Landay's novel, however, does not concern itself primarily with those horrific crimes. Rather, the story belongs to the Daley brothers, three different siblings who will touch and be touched by the investigation directly and indirectly.

Michael is an assistant with the Attorney General's office --- content with handling eminent domain cases that are beneath him intellectually --- when he is assigned to a special task force investigating the killings. Joe, following in the footsteps of his late father, is a policeman, but his corruption is such that he cannot appreciate fully the irony of the situation into which he is inexorably sliding. Ricky is an unapologetic burglar, yet it is he who is perhaps the most honest, caring and consistently upright of the brothers.

Surprisingly, it is Ricky who holds the key not only to their father's mysterious death in the line of duty but also to the identity of the Boston Strangler. Yet it is Joe, ethically and morally compromised as the result of his own actions, who is closest to the corruption within Boston and to the crime that haunts the brothers most deeply.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Schreiber on January 31, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're a lover of quality crime fiction, if the names Connelly, Pelecanos, Burke or Lehane get you excited, then this novel is for you. I was wowed by Landay's first novel (Mission Flats) and am even more impressed now. The title and the cover do not do justice to the riches contained within, this is a marvelous book.

Some reviewers have complained about the lack of twists, or that the bad guy was revealed early on. This is not a "mystery" book where the object is to keep guessing until the end. This is a crime novel that is as much about the human condition as it is about the crimes, much in the vein of Mystic River, and is guaranteed to move you and make you think about your own life and family.

It's a dark tale, bleak and brutal. But if you want more from your thrillers than a puzzle, if a literate story with depth is what you seek, you will be delighted - sometimes horrified, but thoroughly delighted - with this exemplary novel. It truly represents the best in crime fiction.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Possibility on February 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Since I read this book based mostly on the high ratings and positive reviews (nothing under 3 stars) at Amazon, I wish I could share everyone else's enthusiasm and say that I loved this book. But I didn't. The book was very depressing, dark and moody, and centered on three brothers that I never cared for throughout the entire novel. While the story never really dragged, I felt somewhat bored and was very grateful when it finally ended. Again, because of the high ratings, I always expected that something would happen to justify the general praise: the pace would pick up, there would be a sudden explosion of activity, more focus on the strangler. But the strangler remained a background feature despite giving the novel its title.
Publishers Weekly wrote that "the emphasis remains on such themes as crime and punishment, love and honor, truth and justice" and while I didn't quite see the novel in that light, frankly if that's really what this book is about, then I had more fun reading "The Brothers Karamazov". The parts about the Boston strangler provided some interest, and some much needed relief from the Daley brothers, and I learned a great deal about the Boston strangler's crimes in general. Otherwise, for my part and in my humble opinion, a forgettable experience.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Errol C. Friedberg on April 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
My it's refreshing to find a new author in the so-called genre, who writes like an accomplished novelist. William Landay's The Strangler, his second novel (I somehow missed the first but have since acquired it) is a marvellous read. Written with the authority of one who knows the legal world from personal experience, Landay has crafted a story that involves the infamous Boston Strangler. But the book is much more than that. It's about Irish Boston cops; and family; and Boston, a city decaying in the early 1960s. A terrific read, satisfying at multiple levels. Highly recommended.The Strangler
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chelsea on March 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was a child of the 1950's and an adolescent of the 1960's growing up in a Boston that was far different than the high tech and college dominated Boston of today. This book took me back to my youth, to a Boston that had been dying since before the Great Depression. To borrow a line from a James Carroll novel, in Boston the Depression never really ended. I enjoyed this book primarily as a period piece, a story that will give a young reader a glimpse of the film noir world of that era. In fact, in those days Boston was definitely a ville noire.
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