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True Crime: The Novel Mass Market Paperback – August 11, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

True Crime is an edge-of-the-seat suspense novel that graphically portrays the final moments leading up to a condemned killer's appointment with the executioner. The plot is familiar but convincing: An inmate, Frank Beachum, denies any involvement in the murder of a young pregnant woman. His only chance for survival lies in the hands of a reporter, Steven Everett. From the very first page, however, veteran suspense writer Andrew Klavan does everything possible to make this journalist unlikable--he drinks too much, he's committed adultery. In fact, the incarcerated Beachum, who stands accused of a hideous crime, comes across as a much more decent person than Everett.

Foes of capital punishment will find in True Crime another buttress to the oft-expressed argument that state-sanctioned murder is not always just, that some police investigations are sloppy even when they're not politically tinged or racially motivated, and that exonerating evidence is often overlooked. Here such evidence is so glaringly overlooked that it's possible for a somewhat drunken reporter with plenty of other things on his mind (a wife who's about to leave him and a boss who's just discovered that Everett is cuckolding him) to spot the inconsistencies. He follows a hunch, discovers the identity of the real killer, and tries to clear Beachum's name as the minutes tick away. The relentless pace and Klavan's crisp, taut writing make the suspension of disbelief possible, and no doubt Clint Eastwood, who stars in the movie version, will make Steven Everett a more likely and likable hero. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Though this is only Klavan's fourth novel under his own name (he received two Edgar Awards for pseudonymous mysteries), his stylistic range and thoroughly compelling plots have earned him a loyal readership?an audience that should be broadened with this gripping tale. Here Klavan puts an intensely human, often intriguingly quirky face on a familiar plot device: the race to save a convicted killer on death row. When a St. Louis News staffer crashes her car hours before her scheduled interview with Frank Beachum (the interview itself to take place just eight hours before Beachum's execution), reporter Steve Everett is handed the assignment. Everett, 35 (and possessing "wicked, sharply angled brows and a wicked, sharply angled smile"), is already under pressure: though married, he has been shtupping the boss's wife, which creates no little tension at work and at home. Furthermore, he comes to believe that Beachum is innocent, and both personal ethics and career opportunism propel him to pursue his theory. To this end, Klavan gives us the photo finish to end all photo finishes: readers may be gasping for breath by the time Beachum's fate is decided. Even before that, however, the author's vivid characterizations and dramatic prose?packed with tension, black humor and wry observations on the human condition?command attention. Alternating chapters (their style changing as deftly as their settings) present a harrowing portrait of a killer's final hours along with perceptively observed personal and professional crises of an oddly likable schlemiel. 250,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to 20th Century-Fox; simultaneous Random House audio.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (August 11, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440224039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440224037
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Klavan has been nominated for the Mystery Writer of America's Edgar award five times and won twice. He is the author of several bestselling novels, including Don't Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas, True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Empire of Lies. He is currently writing a series of thrillers for young adults called The Homelanders. The first two novels in the series are The Last Thing I Remember and The Long Way Home. Klavan is a contributing editor to City Journal and his essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other places. His satiric video commentaries can be seen on

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Klavan, known for well-written, gritty, edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers, takes these elements to literary heights with "True Crime."
The story is not new. With only 18 hours to go before a convicted murderer is scheduled to die, a newspaper reporter, narrator Steve Everett, finds reason to believe the man is innocent. His minute-by-minute account alternates with gut-wrenching death-watch scenes from the convict's cell.
Everett is yanked out of his editor's wife's bed for this assignment - by the editor himself, who already has plenty of reason to despise cocky, cynical, philandering Everett. This time Everett knows that even his old friend and boss, Alan Mann, who shares his view that "issues are what we make up to give us an excuse to run good stories" - even Mann can't save his job this time.
Everett needs a good story. But the "human interest" interview about the condemned man's "feelings" isn't it. Digging into the background, getting the details of the convenience store-clerk's murder, he uncovers some minor unanswered questions, which lead to more questions.
Juggling the vengeful editor and his own fed-up, straight-laced wife, who's sure to leave him once this latest infidelity is out, it dawns on Everett that proving Beachum innocent could be the single answer to all his immediate problems.
Meanwhile Beachum is saying his last farewells to his wife and daughter. A devout Christian, he is determined to act calm, resigned and unafraid. "But it did make him terribly lonely. To have her here, to hold her, to want to tell her everything that was in his heart - and to jolly her along like this instead."
The tension mounts, page by page.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished the book several days ago and I'm still not sure what I think about it. My wife loved it and insisted I read it. I've read so many "thriller" books lately that there wasn't enough originality in this one to make me wet the pages with saliva slipping off my chin. I knew the ending about twenty pages into it. I was, however, genuinely amused with the lead character-- I hesitate to call him a hero. He is a real horse's rear-end and he never fails to disappoint. That was refreshing. The actual "evidence" was incredibly flimsy to me. The rule seemed to be that if the author CAPITALIZED A LINE OFTEN ENOUGH THEN IT MUST BE TRUE. I realize that a lot of novels are based on assumptions that eventually get supported by fact in plot manuevering but this one was a bunch of assumptions that led to a final "fact" that seemed utterly improbable. But, it was entertaining. I'll give it that.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "thegreekgod" on April 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Any avid reader knows that every so often a novel comes along that feels like a cool breeze on a hot and stale summer day. True Crime from Andrew Klavan is such a novel. It's a wonderful feeling to know that it's still possible to inject freshness into the well worn crime/thriller/mystery genre. Not only is this novel a great and believeable story, the author's prose and word-play seem so fresh and welcoming. An intelligent author indeed, whom knows how to stir your every emotion without relying on tired and manipulative tactics. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end and am happy to say that the author did not miss a single beat. My friends, this is an intense, moving and very rewarding novel that I would highly recommend to all crime/thriller fans, or anyone who is a fan of a well written story from an author who is in complete control of his craft. Simply, a stunning work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David A. Berman on June 29, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback

This was the first book in a long time in which I wanted desperately to jump ahead to read the last few pages to see what happens. As it was, I whipped through the last twenty or thirty pages, skimming and skipping details to get to the end (as soon as I finished, I did go back and re-read more carefully to fill in details).

Interestingly, I didn't at all like the main character - he was obnoxious - a definite anti-hero. I did feel deeply for the condemned man and his family - having to leave his daughter behind hit home strongly; I wondered what I would say to my daughter in similar circumstances.

On the down side (and in retrospect), a couple of the sub-plots, while great in revealing character, didn't really need to be there, but, of course, they did help immensely develop the tension and roller-coaster ride.

Overall, one of the best reads for me in a long time. The suspense kept me turning the pages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Norburn on September 1, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read a lot of crime fiction, and frankly most of it is unremarkable. The few five star novels I read stand out in a sea of mediocrity. It usually doesn't take long (sometimes within a few pages) to know that a novel isn't like all the others; that it's exceptional. Such is the case with True Crime, the most flat out entertaining novel I've read in a while.

This high praise is not because of the novel's groundbreaking plot (the race to save a man on death row has been done before and the race against the clock conclusion is admittedly contrived and melodramatic). No, what sets this novel apart is the writing.

Klavan has created a cast of characters who are vividly compelling, flawed human beings. His dialogue is sharp, insightful, and convincingly authentic. His observations about human nature are remarkably perceptive. He gets inside his character's heads in a way that few authors of crime fiction ever try to. Klavan puts you on death row, with all its rituals, and makes you feel the same heartbreaking desperation that Frank Beachum feels in the hours before he has been condemned to die.

If I'm giving you the impression that this is a slow paced character study, with a depressing story line to boot, this couldn't be more wrong. This is as pure an adrenaline rush as you are likely to find in a novel. True Crime is pure entertainment. The suspense is relentless and the narrative, from the perspective of a reporter assigned to the execution on short notice, is cynical and darkly funny. The reporter, Steve Everett, is an unconventional leading man, an absolute (and there's no other word for it) sh**heel. He's also one of the most entertaining characters I've come across in a long time (right up there with Clete Purcel from the Dave Robicheaux novels).
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