Customer Review

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and brilliantly told story, February 7, 2007
This review is from: The Strangler (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. Michael --- plagued by migraine headaches and an ambiguous sexuality --- is perhaps the most enigmatic, the weakest of the three, and yet fate will leave it to him to execute a rough and final justice for the offenses visited against the family and the city where they live.

Landay's narrative is at once compelling and propelling. His story moves not so much as a streamlined dialogue but as a series of extended vignettes alternating back and forth among the brothers, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Early in the book, a basketball game involving the three of them is a metaphor not only of their lives but also for what will occur later. Landay's eerie coda to the events brings the subtle uneasiness of the narrative into sharp focus; what resolution the Daleys brought is at best temporary and at worst illusory.

The result is a brilliantly told story, haunting in its totality. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that THE STRANGLER may well be the crime novel of the year. Highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 28, 2007 1:19:39 PM PDT
Felix Pryor says:
I have just read Hartlaub's review of James Patterson's "3rd Degree". He likes it very very much.
I listened to the first 3 CD's of this atrocity. This is the worst piece of junk I have tried to read in
years. I would never allow this guy to review anything. What taste!
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