- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Viking Adult (June 12, 2014)
- ISBN-10: 0670016586
- Source: Publisher
Washington D.C. reporter Sully Carter has seen his share of brutality. A stint in war-torn Bosnia left him wounded, his body full of shrapnel, leaving him an alcoholic, full of rage. Back home in D.C., he’s often witness to the darker sides of the District, areas not witnessed by the public and tourists, long ignored by authorities. When Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful District judge is found murdered in a dumpster in this area of the city, the area is swarming with press and police. Although the police quickly arrest three black teens, Sully Carter believes the authorities have rushed to judgement in order to quiet the spreading rumors. It is his belief that her death is tied to a host of cold-cases the police have abandoned, including a recent disappearance of a college student. Cold cases involving black and Hispanic girls, their stories hidden from everyday news.
Going against the authority of government officials, local police, and his own superiors at the paper, Sully leaps head-first into an investigation that takes him to the dark underbelly of Washington, D.C. As he investigates, he is confronted with the difficult challenge of how much information should be brought to the attention of the public. As a war correspondent, he was granted the ability to report the brutal acts of war, yet back at home, in a different kind of war, his voice is muted by editors and looming individuals of authority. The secrets he uncovers implicate men in high positions of power, secrets he believes should be brought to the attention of the public.
In The Ways of the Dead, Tucker presents readers with the sort of crimes often hidden to the world around them. In many cases, news only reports on the deaths and disappearances of prominent individuals, not of color, ignoring hundreds and thousands of other victims. Inspired by the Princeton Place murders of the 1990s (in which the deaths of several women were found to be connected), Tucker directly correlates a victims race and class to the attention it receives from local authorities. He doesn’t spout inaccuracies, instead bringing to life a culture our society, including the press and police officials, need to address.
Tucker’s passion for crime writing, both fictional and in the news, is obvious and evident in The Ways of the Dead. His characters are far from perfect, with jagged edges and secrets of their own. Sully Carter’s character is rich with rage and bitterness, yet while he does tend to drown his pain in alcohol, he is still determined to provide justice to these young women and their families.
I’ve been a fan of Tucker as a reporter so I was thrilled to see him take the leap to writing fiction. His own history as a crime reporter gives him the edge necessary to write truly intense and gritty crime fiction. He portrays a dark and troubled world often ignored. If the popularity of this debut gives further attention to the part of our society so desperate for help then Tucker, in my opinion, is a hero.
The Ways of the Dead is a truly outstanding debut novel; I can’t to read more from this talented writer. Highly, highly recommended.