- 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: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,226,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Very Simple Crime (Thorndike Press Large Print Reviewers' Choice) Hardcover – Large Print, April 22, 2011
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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 the Paperback edition.
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.
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 the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The opening section recalls the dark prose and characterizations of noir writer Jim Thompson, and it might be the best part of the book. But then the novel shifts gear, adopting a tone more suitable for police procedurals. We are now introduced to another lonely loser, Leo Hewitt. Like Adam Lee, Hewitt's star has dimmed; he completely botched a high-profile case and, supplanted by an ambitious underling, he feels trapped in a dead-end job as "everyone's errand boy." When Adam Lee's wife is murdered, apparently by her son, Leo realizes the evidence doesn't quite add up and sees a chance to escape his cubicle. Both Adam and Leo are looking for ways out of their situations--but there the resemblance ends.
There are basically three suspects, and anyone who's read enough mysteries knows the initial guess can't be right, especially with the victim's inheritance at stake. So Jerkins yanks the reader back and forth between the remaining two, competently pointing the evidence from one suspect to the other. A tribute to Jerkins's skill is that at one point in the novel, after I thought I'd had it all figured out, I realized that I could more accurately identify the perpetrator by tossing a coin. In the closing chapters, everything ends up making sense and all the loose ends are tied up in a tidy resolution.
But perhaps too tidy. Jerkins is so busy dotting the i's and crossing the t's of his whodunit that he nearly loses credibility on two points: first, the climactic trial scene is wholly and uproariously unbelievable (from either a legal or dramatic perspective) and, second, a previously reticent suspect breaks character and becomes effusively chatty while explaining the entire crime. I do agree with another reader who felt that the last chapter was unnecessary (as was much of the penultimate chapter). Formerly ambiguous characters become one-dimensional types; the line between good and evil is boldly and clearly drawn. Once you've closed the book, there's really nothing left to ponder. Just a tad more ambiguity would have added the right amount of complexity to this very simple crime.
This book deserves a 4 star rating over a 3 star because it was a quick read with a good pace and one of the characters stood out to me as being quite interesting. I would recommend it and I plan to read his second release, AT THE END OF THE ROAD, to see how it compares.