Customer Reviews: True Crime: The Novel
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VINE VOICEon November 14, 2003
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. Everett's discoveries are tantalizingly inconclusive, every leap forward is confronted by an obstruction, a setback, a reasonable explanation. And the scenes in Beachum's stark cell grow more and more painful to endure as the man wrestles with his inner fears, the shattered hopes of a life, his anguish, impatience and dread.
Everett is not a nice guy. But the reader remains aware that this is his book, the powerful and disturbing insight of the Beachum chapters as well as the wise-cracking, cynical chase. And while we identify with Beachum's awful plight, we turn away from his unbearable pain, then turn the page to see what happens next.
Klavan has written a rivetting story which presents a devastating portrait of the real cruelties of capital punishment, not that it will change any minds.
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on June 15, 1999
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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on April 26, 2002
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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on June 29, 2005

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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on September 1, 2008
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).

True Crime could have been another run-of-the-mill thriller, but it isn't. Yes, it's thrilling, but more than that, it's perceptive, and thoughtful, and at times quite moving.

PS: I added a comment to discuss the ending that is a ***SPOILER***. Don't read the comments if you haven't read the novel.
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on November 23, 2012
Good lord, this book has you racing toward the end, and when you get there you have to get up, take a break from the Kindle, pace around with anxiety, before you can get back to it. What writing. What a writer. Others have told the storyline, but until you read it you have no idea what a great book this is. Klavan needs a new agent - he should be as famous as Stephen King. Male characters outstanding, female not as good but they are secondary. Only negative that occurred is that I had to skip some of the paragraphs in my hurry to the end. A woman can only take so much.
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on April 14, 2014
There are two stories interposed here, both occurring on a single day. A death row inmate counts down the minutes till his midnight execution, meeting during the day with his wife and child, and his minister. He maintains his innocence. A reporter is thrust into interviewing the inmate and witnessing the execution, only because his colleague has been in an accident. As the time ticks by, the reporter becomes convinced of the inmate's innocence. Can he do anything to stop the execution? This is engrossing, and vivid in its stark description of a day on death row for not only the condemned prisoner but also the prison staff.
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on August 18, 2001
The story is about a comdemned black man who is in death row and going to be executed for a crime he apparently did not commit. A journalist from a local newspaper wants to help him out and prove that he is innocent, will he find the evidence before this man is executed ?
The plot is terrific, the nail biting tension type mixed with quick action packed suspense. Once I started the book, I could not put it down. The story is so masterly written that I could not forget it so I decided to include it in my listmania.
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on April 21, 2015
great and captivating - I would love to recommend this to my grandsons, but it has too much foul language in it for them - as much as I enjoyed the writing, I don't think I will read another book of Klavan's because of the language.
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on March 13, 2005
Frank Beachum, a former small time troublemaker, now peaceful family man, is convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Despite always protesting his innocence and waiting through 6 years of appeals, he is now on death row, due to recieve the lethal injection within hours. A reporter who was due to interview Beachum for the last time, is killed in a car accident, forcing the newspaper to send Steven Everett in her place. Everett, a hopeless womaniser whose marriage is about to fall apart, is caught with his editors' wife and knows that this is his final chance to keep his job. Some facts about the case don't seem right to him so, in an almost last minute effort, he solves the puzzles. This was made into a movie with Clint Eastwood and, although I haven't seen it, can well imagine that the crazy, last minute solution must have been very exciting. The final procedures which accompany an execution are chilling enough to freeze the blood in your veins!
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