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The Strangler
Cover of The Strangler
The Strangler
A Novel
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Before the New York Times bestselling success of Defending Jacob, William Landay wrote this widely acclaimed second novel of crime and suspense, which was named a Favorite Crime Novel of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers.

Boston, 1963. Meet the charming, brawling Daley brothers. Joe is a cop whose gambling habits have dragged him down into the city's underworld. Michael is a lawyer, always the smartest man in the room. And Ricky is the youngest son, a prince of thieves whose latest heist may be his last. For the Daleys, crime is the family business—they're simply on different sides of it. Then a killer, a man who hunts women with brutal efficiency and no sign of stopping, strikes too close to the Daley home. The brothers unite to find the Strangler, a journey that leads to the darkest corners of Boston—and exposes an even deeper mystery that threatens to tear the family apart.

Includes an excerpt of Defending Jacob

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST CRIME NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY
Los Angeles Times
  • The Guardian
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • The Kansas City Star

    "Reminiscent of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, the novel takes us into a dark world where goodness is smothered and villainy thrives. . . . I was completely riveted."—The Boston Globe

    "A dense and satisfying novel of crime and retribution . . . [Landay has] been touted as the natural successor to George V. Higgins."—The Independent

    "A gripping, atmospheric saga."—The Wall Street Journal

    "An impressive and satisfying performance."—The Washington Post

    "Smart and surprising."—Esquire
  • Before the New York Times bestselling success of Defending Jacob, William Landay wrote this widely acclaimed second novel of crime and suspense, which was named a Favorite Crime Novel of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers.

    Boston, 1963. Meet the charming, brawling Daley brothers. Joe is a cop whose gambling habits have dragged him down into the city's underworld. Michael is a lawyer, always the smartest man in the room. And Ricky is the youngest son, a prince of thieves whose latest heist may be his last. For the Daleys, crime is the family business—they're simply on different sides of it. Then a killer, a man who hunts women with brutal efficiency and no sign of stopping, strikes too close to the Daley home. The brothers unite to find the Strangler, a journey that leads to the darkest corners of Boston—and exposes an even deeper mystery that threatens to tear the family apart.

    Includes an excerpt of Defending Jacob

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST CRIME NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY
    Los Angeles Times
  • The Guardian
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • The Kansas City Star

    "Reminiscent of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, the novel takes us into a dark world where goodness is smothered and villainy thrives. . . . I was completely riveted."—The Boston Globe

    "A dense and satisfying novel of crime and retribution . . . [Landay has] been touted as the natural successor to George V. Higgins."—The Independent

    "A gripping, atmospheric saga."—The Wall Street Journal

    "An impressive and satisfying performance."—The Washington Post

    "Smart and surprising."—Esquire
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    Recommended for you

    Excerpts-
    • Chapter One Chapter One



      Ricky Daley

      In the subway: twenty swaying grief-stunned faces. A man insensible of his own leg pistoning up and down, tapping tat-tat-tat-tat-tat on the floor. At Boylston Street the track curved, the steel wheels shrieked against the rails, and the lights flickered off. Passengers let their eyes close, like a congregation beginning a silent prayer. When the lights came on again and their eyes opened, Ricky Daley was watching them.

      At Park Street station, Ricky jogged up the stairs to the street, into a stagnant crowd. Offices had closed early, creating an early rush hour, but there was nowhere to go. The news was everywhere, still sensational though everyone had already heard it. Newsboys squawked "Extra!" and "Read it hee-yuh!" and "Exclusive!" They lingered on the hissing alien word "Ass-sass-inated!" Over on Tremont Street, crowds clumped against parked cars to listen to the news on WBZ; they bowed their heads toward the car radios. But there was no real news, no one knew anything, so eventually they turned away, they loitered on the sidewalk, and shambled in and out of the Common. It was midafternoon, three hours or so after–after President Kennedy first slapped at his neck as if he'd been stung by a bee–three hours after but the concussed mood was not dissipating. It was deepening, and more and more the stupor was infused with anxiety: What was next? From what direction would the attack come? How in the hell would they all get through this?

      Ricky strolled right through them, working his way west. It was quieter in the Common, away from the street. No one seemed to be speaking. No one knew what to say. In the quiet he could make out the murmur of the city, distant engines and car horns and cops' whistles. He wore a gray overcoat and an itchy hundred-and-twenty-five-dollar suit. His shoes, new black brogans, made squinching sounds when he walked. He had tried to soften them by wearing them around his apartment, but they still pinched across the top of his feet. He had succeeded, at least, in dulling the gloss of the leather by rubbing it with saliva. The shoes should look polished but not new. New shoes might draw attention.

      By the Frog Pond, a woman on a slatted park bench held a handkerchief to her mouth, balled up in her fist. Her eyes were watery. Ricky stopped to offer her the stiff new handkerchief tri-folded in his jacket pocket.

      "Here," he said.

      "I'm alright."

      "Go on, I don't use them. It's just for show."

      Ricky gazed up, granting her the privacy to mop her nose.

      "Who would do such a thing?" The woman sniffled.

      Ricky looked down again, and he detected a shy grin at the corners of her mouth. Smile, he thought. Go on.

      "Who would do this?"

      Go ahead and smile. Because who could deny there was a little secret pleasure in it? Kennedy was dead, but they had never felt quite so alive. All these nine-to-five suckers, all the secretaries and waitresses and Edison men–it was as if they had all been drowsing for years only to snap awake, here, together, inside this Great Day. Ricky thought that, if he wanted to, he could explore this girl for information (where did she work? did she have a key? was there an opportunity there?). She was available. Probably she felt a little intoxicated by this feeling of nowness. Until today, she had never felt so thrillingly present in each moment. It was a limitation of human consciousness: We live only in the future and past, we cannot perceive now. Now occupies no space, a hypothetical gap between future and past. Only an exceptional few could feel now,...
    About the Author-
    • William Landay is the author of the highly acclaimed Mission Flats, which was awarded the John Creasey Memorial Dagger as the best debut crime novel of 2003. A graduate of Yale University and Boston College Law School, he was an assistant district attorney before turning to writing. He lives in Boston, where he is at work on his next novel of suspense.


      From the Hardcover edition.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      November 20, 2006
      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.

    • Library Journal

      January 1, 2007
      In 1963, when Boston is jolted by the Kennedy assassination, the city is already on edge from the murders attributed to the Boston Strangler. Albert DeSalvo confesses, but the police have misgivings. The three sons of murdered detective Joe Daley alternate as protagonists in this suspenseful tale, which mingles real characters with fictional ones. Joe Daley Jr., assigned to the case, is a cop plagued by gambling debts and increasing mob ties. Brother Michael, also on the case, is an assistant district attorney obsessed with his father's death and the possible involvement of his partner. And youngest brother Rickey is a cat burglar whose girlfriend has just been strangled. Landay makes good use of his own experience as a prosecutor, but the real tension is in the moral ambiguities. Framed by the larger story of the Strangler, the inner tale masterfully portrays the insidiousness of greed, even within the Daley family. Good may triumph, but not at all clearly, and the many twists are truly shocking in the hands of this masterly plotter, whose first novel, "Mission Flats", was highly praised. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 10/1/06; Brian McGrory's forthcoming "Strangled" (Atria, Feb. 2007) also takes a look at the Boston Strangler case.Ed.]Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

      Copyright 2007 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

    • Esquire.com "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."
    • Publishers Weekly "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."
    • USA Today "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."
    • Baltimore Sun "Landay has a marvelous ear for dialogue and for relationship complexities, smartly emphasizing the impact of crime instead of on the crimes in particular."
    • Wall Street Journal "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."
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