Hard-bitten tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts returns to investigate a decades-old triple murder case in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, finding not only a potential wrongful conviction, but also some disquieting revelations close to her own home.
Despite her admirable track record for thawing cold murder cases, Roberts is still stringing for the bottom-feeding New York Tribune, camping outside a movie mogul’s Tribeca apartment building one day and haranguing a Kings County DA candidate about missed child support the next. Rebekah’s hope that somebody, somewhere in this city must be doing real journalism is consummated when she meets a Brooklyn-based blogger who closely tracks every homicide in the five boroughs. Through this blogger, Rebekah sees a handwritten letter from a convict named DeShawn Perkins who insists he was wrongfully convicted of slaughtering a black Crown Heights family in the summer of 1992. What really grabs Rebekah’s attention is that one of the detectives working the case was Saul Katz, who is now the boyfriend of Rebekah’s long-estranged mother, Aviva, who abandoned Rebekah as a child and hid deep within Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community. (Rebekah’s fraught relationship with her mother is chronicled in Dahl’s two previous mysteries, Invisible City (2014) and 2015's Run You Down.) Juggling time frames more than 20 years apart, Dahl's lean, hard narrative unravels a sad, squalid, and all-too-timely tale of deception in high and low places, deeply embedded racial animosities, and judicial mischief plausible enough to make readers wonder anew how many real-life DeShawns are in similar circumstances. Dahl shows great command over the darker, creepier elements of her genre and will keep you reading by her deft yet unobtrusive deployment of plot twists—and there are many of these going off like small explosives along the way.
The novel’s authenticity is enhanced by Dahl’s painfully spot-on grievances about the deteriorating newspaper industry and her cogent observations about Brooklyn in both its post-millennium growth and its past lives—which somehow never seem all that far in the past.