When a young woman with a sordid past witnesses a murder, she finds herself fascinated by the killer and decides to track him down herself.Amy was once a party girl, but she now lives a lonely life, helping the house-bound to receive communion in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn. She stops in at one of the apartments on her route, where Mrs. Epifanio, the elderly woman who lives there, says she hasn’t seen her usual caretaker, Diane, in a few days. Supposedly, Diane has the flu—or so Diane’s son Vincent said when he first dropped by and vanished into Mrs. E’s bedroom to do no-one-knows-what.
Amy’s brief interaction with Vincent in the apartment that day sets off warning bells, so she assures Mrs. E that she’ll find out what’s really going on with both him and his mother. She tails Vincent through Brooklyn, eventually following him and a mysterious man out of a local dive bar. At first, the men are only talking as they walk, but then, almost before Amy can register what has happened, Vincent is dead.
For reasons she can’t quite understand, Amy finds herself captivated by both the crime she witnessed and the murderer himself. She doesn’t call the cops to report what she’s seen. Instead, she collects the murder weapon from the sidewalk and soon finds herself on the trail of a killer.
Character-driven and evocative, The Lonely Witness brings Brooklyn to life in a way only a native can, and opens readers’ eyes to the harsh realities of crime and punishment on the city streets.
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About the Author
William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His books include: Gravesend, which was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France and shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the UK; The Lonely Witness, which is nominated for the Hammett Prize; and, most recently, A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Lonely Witness: A Novel based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
What worked for me: 1. Amy She’s a flawed, interesting, and not quite sympathetic character. While she’s conflicted about her actions, but she gets a voyeuristic thrill from them. It’s a bit of excitement in her dull life. Trying to “help a little” as a Eucharistic Minister to elderly shut-ins isn’t as rousing as her previous crowd. She’s gay, though she never bothers to explain this to the elderly people trying to set her up with their grandsons/nephews/neighbors/random single males in their lives. Early in the book, Amy recounts witnessing a murder. (This happens on page 10, so it’s not a spoiler.) As a young teen, she watched through a window as her next-door neighbor strangled a man. She never spoke up. When she begins following the killer, she never finds proof that a murder happened. She even looks forward to seeing the killer: it’s exciting when everything–her grandparents, school, church, life–is boring. If that doesn’t pique your interest in this character, I’m not certain what will. 2. The tone Boyle constantly increases the creepiness level in the story. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any creepier, it did. Even reading the ending first didn’t lessen the tension and didn’t take away the chilling, ominous feeling covering me while I read. 3. The setting I was impressed by how well Boyle used the Brooklyn setting. With it, he creates a mood of despair and brokenness, of thwarted dreams and a dying, forgotten place filled with forgotten people. It’s the former home of Amy’s ex-girlfriend, who was desperate to leave and when she returns, feels trapped in it again. Yet Amy chooses to move here. 4. The Catholicism/saints motifs Boyle does a great job with this one. From St. Therese, who inspires Amy to “help a little”, to the priest’s admonitions to give her father a second chance, to the St. Joan medal she filches, intending to give it to her ex-girlfriend: it works to add depth and dimension to the characters and the story. 5. The ending (No spoilers!) It might not be the ending that I want, but it works. Amy has grown as a character.The loose threads are mostly tied and clipped. The other characters are accounted for. It’s a satisfying ending. What didn’t work for me: I can’t think of anything. I truly enjoyed this book! That’s interesting to me, as I usually dislike noir as a subgenre. It’s too cynical. The protagonists remind me too much of myself on a bad mental health binge, making all the wrong choices in life. (Don’t ask.) Watching people screw up their lives is too darned depressing. Whenever I read a novel in this subgenre, I feel like the author and I are pitted against each other: will the strength of the story win, or will the book only confirm my prejudice against the genre? I typically give up after a few chapters. So, Meredith, you ask, why’d you read this book? The cover. It hit all the right notes for me, and that was enough to entice me to open the cover and read the story. Despite the distinctly noir tone of the novel, despite the cynicism and fatality of Amy’s views, despite all that, Boyle won: I flew through this story. I grew to care about Amy, even when she was at her most self-destructive. Bravo, Mr. Boyle. Overall, this is an impressive book.
was about 29% in to this book and was really ready to put it down. Then, I read a review that said it was slow at the beginning, but got better. So, I decided to give it a try. Well, it did have action over halfway through I think. That action, however, was interspersed with what seemed to me to be filler pages. The action did get my pulse racing a little, but that's only because I scanned the many filler pages and looked for it. I had a lot of sympathy for Amy still trying to figure things out. However, I was sold on the understanding that this was a thriller. In short you go through a LOT of filler pages about Amy's issues before I got to the action part. I was really expecting more action. Thanks to Pegasus Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased revie