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The Strangler: A Novel Paperback – June 12, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 205 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034553946X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345539465
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this because I was a big fan of "Defending Jacob". I was interested in the setting, genre and location. I expected something more along the lines of "Mystic River" I found the story was a little hard to follow in parts for me and although there were a few plot twist made the novel worth reading in the end and I don't regret it, I found it to be a slow read and not able to connect well with the characters. I felt no investment in them. The story was a little all over the place and hard to follow in some parts. While Landay is a good writer, I don't know that I will seek to read any of his others works based on this without a recommendation.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting take on the Boston Strangler case, which, I confess I hadn't paid much attention to at the time. However, many scenes were awfully gruesome, and one hates to think that the Boston police department was ever that corrupt. As with any "historical fiction", it's impossible for the layman to guess where fact ends and fantasy begins. In general, this isn't my preferred genre. With one exception, the author has created characters who are so corrupt and insensitive that one wonders if they aren't ALL sociopathic. Frankly, I found it depressing. Unnecessarily violent and cynical, in my opinion.
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