The Ways of the Dead: A Novel

The Ways of the Dead: A Novel

4.4 5
by Neely Tucker
     
 

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"An exciting first novel that echoes the best writing of Pete Hamill and George Pelecanos, mixed with bit of The Wire and True Detective."
—The Miami Herald

The electrifying first novel in a new crime series from a veteran Washington, D.C., reporter

Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful

Overview

"An exciting first novel that echoes the best writing of Pete Hamill and George Pelecanos, mixed with bit of The Wire and True Detective."
—The Miami Herald

The electrifying first novel in a new crime series from a veteran Washington, D.C., reporter

Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful Washington, D.C. judge, is dead, her body discovered in a slum in the shadow of the Capitol. Though the police promptly arrest three local black kids, newspaper reporter Sully Carter suspects there’s more to the case. Reese’s slaying might be related to a string of cold cases the police barely investigated, among them the recent disappearance of a gorgeous university student.

A journalist brought home from war-torn Bosnia and hobbled by loss, rage, and alcohol, Sully encounters a city rife with its own brand of treachery and intrigue. Weaving through D.C.’s broad avenues and shady backstreets on his Ducati 916 motorcycle, Sully comes to know not just the city’s pristine monuments of power but the blighted neighborhoods beyond the reach of the Metro. With the city clamoring for a conviction, Sully pursues the truth about the murders—all against pressure from government officials, police brass, suspicious locals, and even his own bosses at the paper.

A wry, street-smart hero with a serious authority problem, Sully delves into a deeply layered mystery, revealing vivid portraits of the nation’s capital from the highest corridors of power to D.C.’s seedy underbelly, where violence and corruption reign supreme—and where Sully must confront the back-breaking line between what you think and what you know, and what you know and what you can print. Inspired by the real-life 1990s Princeton Place murders and set in the last glory days of the American newspaper, The Ways of the Dead is a wickedly entertaining story of race, crime, the law, and the power of the media. Neely Tucker delivers a flawless rendering of a fast-paced, scoop-driven newsroom—investigative journalism at its grittiest.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/14/2014
Foreign correspondent Tucker (Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir) uses the real-life Princeton Place murders in Washington, D.C., during the 1990s as background for his exciting fiction debut. The murder of Sarah Reese, the 15-year-old daughter of a politically connected Washington judge, turns unwanted attention to the predominately black neighborhood where she was killed. But newspaper reporter Sully Carter sees a larger story about several missing area women and a murdered prostitute. Sully turns to neighborhood crime boss Sly Hastings for help when politicians, the police, and his own editors don’t care about these cold cases, which he believes are linked to the teenager’s death. The quick arrest of three young black men for Sarah’s murder makes Sully suspicious. The brisk plot is punctuated by an insightful view of journalism and manipulative editors, shady politicians, and apathetic cops, while also showing residents working to create a better neighborhood. Readers will be pleased that Tucker leaves room for a sequel. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates. (June)
From the Publisher
“Setting his tale in the 1990s . . . gives Tucker the chance to show how much newspapers have changed. The 24-hour Internet news cycle hasn’t yet taken root, tomorrow’s front page is still more important than getting the story online immediately and good reporters are dependent on door knocks, land lines and library research rather than e-mail, cellphones and Google. Tucker pulls off a neat, double-twist ending . . . There’s a lot to like in Tucker’s storytelling.”
—The Washington Post
 
“Tucker may be a first-time novelist, but as a career writer, he is well ahead of many of his peers, and this book is worthy of Elmore Leonard’s legacy. . . . With equal ear for newsroom patter and street slang, Tucker has presented an exciting first novel that echoes the best writing of Pete Hamill and George Pelecanos, mixed with bits of The Wire and True Detective.”
—The Miami Herald
  
“Gritty and masterful . . .  A mystery that will leave readers waiting for the next in the series.”
—Washingtonian
 
"An utterly thrilling mystery set in Washington, D.C., in the late 1990s, just before the Internet and the rise of smartphones changed the landscape of print journalism. . . . Meticulously plotted, fast-paced . . . Every character is fully fleshed out and the dialogue is pitch perfect. . . . For mystery and crime fiction lovers, particularly fans of Elmore Leonard, to whom Tucker dedicates his book, this is a must-read."
—Associated Press
 
“A tense and gripping crime novel of race and power, but its true magic lies in the dialogue, which is textured and nuanced in the manner of Elmore Leonard, James Crumley or George Pelecanos. This is a very fine debut indeed, and one that begs for sequel after sequel.”
—BookPage
 
“Tucker, a writer of power and grace, gives great life to the newspaper milieu and he’s just as resourceful in shaping the story of an apparent serial killer in inner city Washington. It’s done up in a plot full of curve balls, shocks and surprises that we readers never see coming.”
—The Toronto Star 
 
“Crisp, crafty and sharply observed . . . Rich yet taut description, edgy storytelling, rock-and-rolling dialogue, and a deeply flawed but compelling hero add up to a luminous first novel.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Journalist-novelist Tucker has crafted an addictive, twisty, debut, proving that crimes involving politics and sex can still surprise and thrill us. The slightly detached and cynical air will resonate with George Pelecanos readers and yet there’s a whiff of Elmore Leonard, too.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“With the emphasis on gritty urban life in a city rife with racism and blight, [The Ways of the Dead] evokes the Washington, D.C. of George Pelecanos. This riveting debut novel should spawn a terrific series.”
—Booklist(starred review)
 
“[An] exciting fiction debut . . . The brisk plot is punctuated by an insightful view of journalism and manipulative editors, shady politicians, and apathetic cops, while also showing residents working to create a better neighborhood. Readers will be pleased that Tucker leaves room for a sequel.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
"The Ways of the Dead is a great read. Deep characters, pitch perfect dialogue and a plot with as many curves as the Rock Creek Parkway as it moves through the side of Washington D.C. far away from the Smithsonian. Neely Tucker takes this novel up an even further notch with a story framed around the hot button issues of our time, including race, justice and the media. If this is Tucker's first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next."
—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Gods of Guilt
 
“From the powerful opening to the shocking finale, The Ways of the Dead delivers the very best in gritty, hard-edged suspense.  Complex characters, taut dialogue, and a riveting plot all add up to one extremely excellent novel.”
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing

 
“Tough, exciting, always intelligent, Neely Tucker’s The Ways of the Dead captures the multi-layered corruption and cynicism—and the edge-of-the-ledge danger—of a hard-nosed former war reporter digging out a serial killer in the backstreets of Washington, D.C.”
—John Sandford, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Field of Prey
 
“In a textured, wholly believable Washington, D.C., simultaneously near and far from the corridors of power, Neely Tucker, in his accomplished mystery debut, has created a gripping tale of secrets and lies, malice and mayhem . . . and very dead young women.”
—Otto Penzler, Co-editor of The Best American Noir of the Century

 
"The Ways Of The Dead has everything you'd want from a book noir—enveloping atmosphere, flavorful characters, evocative writing, and a serpentine plot which seems to make the pages turn themselves. Neely Tucker is an impressive new talent."
—Richard North Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Loss of Innocence

Praise for Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir
“A triumph of heart and will.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

“An extraordinary book of immense feeling and significant social relevance. Love in the Driest Season challenges anyone—even those numbed by the world’s abundant cruelty—not to care.” —Washington Post

“I loved Neely Tucker’s Love in the Driest Season. There is breathtaking suspense in this true story set in Africa. I swear you will be moved like seldom before, if ever." —Elmore Leonard

“Unceasingly compelling and filled with soaring highs and lows, Love in the Driest Season is a remarkable memoir of love and family.” —Pages

“A gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism, and war.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Utterly heartfelt and truly inspiring.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Tucker’s hard-hitting memoir . . . is an almost unbelievable tale of bureaucracy, lunacy, and love. The suspense is stomach-wrenching and infuriating.” —Orlando Sentinel

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-04-17
Clinton-era Washington, D.C., provides the squalid, menacing backdrop for this crisp, crafty and sharply observed debut by a seasoned reporter.As the curtain's about to fall on the 20th century, Sully Carter, a one-time war correspondent weighed down with physical and psychological scars, finds himself working the crime beat in Washington, D.C., at a time when criminal behavior is all but taken for granted at opposite ends of the sociopolitical spectrum. For all of Sully's battle-hardened professionalism, his bosses don't think he's quite stable—or sober—enough to cover the murder of a teenage girl near a convenience store, especially since the victim is the daughter of a high-profile federal judge with whom Sully's had (let's say) negative history. Nevertheless, Sully works as if he's in a war zone and eventually connects this murder with a series of cold cases involving dead and missing young women in the same at-risk neighborhood. Tucker, a 25-year newspaper veteran who's spent most of his career at the Washington Post, writes with rueful authority and caustic familiarity about the District's criminal and working classes as well as the dreary anxiety of working for a fin-de-siècle big-city newspaper. Along with an ear for inner-city argot almost as finely tuned as those of Elmore Leonard and fellow D.C. crime writer George Pelacanos, Tucker has a knack for ingenious plotting that jolts his narrative into unexpected directions. The shocks resound with acrid, illuminating insights into the District's nettlesome intersections of race and class at the hinge of the millennium.Rich yet taut description, edgy storytelling, rock-and-rolling dialogue, and a deeply flawed but compelling hero add up to a luminous first novel.
Library Journal
★ 06/01/2014
Sarah Reese, the white teenage daughter of a prominent judge, is found murdered behind a convenience store in Washington, DC. Three young black guys are fingered for the murder simply because they had pestered her earlier. Thus begins a late 1990s-set, headlines-grabbing story that Sully Carter, a Mississippi-born veteran reporter, is covering. Although former Bosnian war correspondent Sully suffers from PTSD and alcoholism, he still knows how to go behind enemy lines. By using a local "warlord," Sully worms his way deeper into the truth of this girl's death and how it connects with a disturbing pattern of unsolved murders or disappearances of neighborhood women. Trouble is Sully may have set himself up for a fall in the process. VERDICT Journalist-turned-novelist Tucker has crafted an addictive, twisty debut, proving that crimes involving politics and sex can still surprise and thrill us. The slightly detached and cynical air will resonate with George Pelecanos readers and yet there's a whiff of Elmore Leonard, too.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670016587
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/12/2014
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"The Ways of the Dead is a great read. Deep characters, pitch perfect dialogue and a plot with as many curves as the Rock Creek Parkway as it moves through the side of Washington D.C. far away from the Smithsonian. Neely Tucker takes this novel up an even further notch with a story framed around the hot button issues of our time, including race, justice and the media. If this is Tucker's first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next." —Michael Connelly

 
“Tough, exciting, always intelligent, Neely Tucker’s The Ways of the Dead captures the multi-layered corruption and cynicism—and the edge-of-the-ledge danger—of a hard-nosed former war reporter digging out a serial killer in the backstreets of Washington, D.C.” —John Sandford

“From the powerful opening to the shocking finale, The Ways of the Dead delivers the very best in gritty, hard-edged suspense.  Complex characters, taut dialogue, and a riveting plot all add up to one extremely excellent novel.” —Lisa Gardner
 
“In a textured, wholly believable Washington, D.C., simultaneously near and far from the corridors of power, Neely Tucker, in his accomplished mystery debut, has created a gripping tale of secrets and lies, malice and mayhem . . . and very dead young women.”
—Otto Penzler, Co-editor of The Best American Noir of the Century
 

Meet the Author

Neely Tucker's journalism career spans twenty-five years, fourteen of which he's spent at The Washington Post. His 2004 memoir, Love in the Driest Season, was named one of the Best 25 Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Born in Mississippi, Tucker lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.

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The Ways of the Dead: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Neely Tucker draws heavily on his two decades reporting on crime and conflict from around the globe to create Sully Carter, and this exciting new crime thriller series from Washington DC reporter. THE WAYS OF THE DEAD, is a wickedly entertaining, fast-paced, and suspenseful debut novel of— race, crime, corrupt law, and the power of the media. Sarah Reese, is the white teenage daughter of a prominent and powerful judge, and is found murdered behind a convenience store in Washington, DC. Three young black guys are fingered for the murder; however, as it goes, not the real murders. Sully, Mississippi southern veteran reporter, is covering the case. He is also former Bosnian war correspondent and suffers from PTSD, alcoholism, and rage— an investigative reporter, he still knows how to go behind enemy lines. From shady backstreets, Sully pursues the truth about the murders, against all odds and pressure from officials, his boss at the paper, the editors, cops and locals. I loved this tough street smart journalist on his motorcycle, as he uncovers this mystery where violence and corruption lives on the back dark streets of Washington, DC. Inspired by the real life 1990’s Princeton Place murders, THE WAYS OF THE DEAD, is a novel and series all crime enthusiasts and investigative reporters will devour! Tucker’s passion and knowledge of the storyline and his journalism career of twenty-five years, with fourteen spent at The Washington Post-- reflective throughout the pages for a kick-ass novel, and will have readers anxiously awaiting the next book in this suspense series! Well done. Can’t wait for the next installment!
booklover- 13 days ago
Sully Carter is a newspaper reporter with a nose for the news. He also has a problem with alcohol and anger management after returning to Washington, D.C. after being stationed in Bosnia. He has seen much more than anyone could imagine. Sarah Reese is the teen-aged daughter of a D.C. judge. Her body is found behind a convenience store. Three young black men are arrested, although Sully has it on good authority that these kids were set up. When Sully investigates, he finds that there have been other young women found murdered in the same general area. Their cases were barely looked at. And someone doesn't want the truth printed. This is a very well written mystery that takes the reader from the alleys and streets to the reporter's desk. Violence and corruption are the co-stars in this book. As a journalistic reporter, Sully must pick apart what he thinks and what he knows to get to the real story... and it just might kill him. From Book Blurb: Inspired by the real-life 1990s Princeton Place murders and set in the last glory days of the American newspaper, The Ways of the Dead is a wickedly entertaining story of race, crime, the law, and the power of the media. Many thanks to the author and Goodreads Giveaways for an ARC.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out Kritters Ramblings for the full review Fiction based on truth gets me every time!  Neely Tucker takes the true story of murders that occurred in DC and weaves them into a fictional tale.  Sully, a journalist who has recently returned from war reporting is thrust back into city dramatics with the murder of a high ranking official's daughter.  Although her murder looks isolated, Sully believes that it is one in a string and is out to prove it. The plot was perfect and the characters were fantastically portrayed.  Sully interacted with the professionals at his paper and the characters on the street with ease and I felt the truth in it.  I loved his myriad of sources and meeting them and getting not only the information for the murders, but to learn about them was fantastic.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Neely Tucker is a man to watch. With his debut novel, he flies out of the gate like a bronco and never once looks back. To say this book is fast paced, would be an insult to face pacing. Sadly, it's almost TOO fast. Having been a journalist for so many years, I can only surmise that his talents are eeking into his book. When you're in the newspaper business, space is at a premium. When you're in the authoring business, you're free to roam far and wide. I only wish that Mr. Tucker had roamed a little wider, because this book was really, really good. The characters - namely Sully and (the favorite) Sly - are so believable, I could see them clearly in my head from the first moment. Sly, the loveable criminal, is a perfect yang to Sully's yin. The interplay works, and works well. If you're a fan of hard-boiled crime novels, then this one is for you. If you loved 'The Wire', then this one is a MUST. Overall? A great read, with great structure, that went a little too fast. Really, that's my only complaint. I felt like there was more story to flesh out. But you know what? I have been talking with Mr. Tucker, and he let slip that a sequel is well along. Which is great - because I'm nowhere near ready to quit reading his work. Well done! - Heath D. Alberts
Twink More than 1 year ago
4.5/5 It's no secret that crime novels and thrillers are my favourite type of book to read. I'm always on the lookout for new authors in these genres . And it's always a good bet to see a blurb from one of my favourite authors. Such is the case with Neely Tucker's debut fiction novel The Ways of the Dead. "If this is Tucker's first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next." - Michael Connelly I love opening scenes that grab my attention right away and have me wondering what's next... 1999. Teenager Sarah Reese takes lessons from a celebrated dance instructor in Washington, DC. But the studio is on the wrong side of the tracks. And Sarah is in the wrong place at the wrong time..... Sarah's case garners lots of attention as her father is the Chief Judge of the Federal Court. And it catches the eye of reporter Sullivan Carter as well. But Sully sees a bigger picture - there's more to this story. And no one seems to want him to uncover it.... The best protagonists for crime books are the walking wounded, the ones who buck authority, the ones who just can't let things be or let justice go unserved. Sully Carter fills the bill on every count. He's battling PTSD, alcohol and anger issues, his bosses and manages to step on toes everywhere he goes. He's also a confidant of the one of DC's crimelords. Flawed but driven. Neely's dialogue is effortless and believable. The plotting was really, really good. Actual events in the 1990's were the inspiration behind the book. But Neely takes his novel in directions I didn't predict. (another big plus) Neely's background is rich and wide and varied. His own experience as a journalist is evident in his writing. Neely's descriptions of time and place were vivid and I had strong mental images of the streets and back alleys of the neighbourhood. The Ways of the Dead is gritty, grim and oh so good. I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Connelly's blurb - I too will be watching for the next book in this series.