'A tremendous debut' Lee Child.
Jess Walter has covered the rash of Pacific Northwest serial Killings, including the recent arrest of alleged serial killer Robert L. Yates in Spokane last Spring, for the Washington Post and other national media. Co-author of Christopher Darden's number one bestseller In Contempt and the author of the non-fiction book Every Knee Shall Bow, Walter lives in Spokane with his family.
Shifting ably to fiction, true crime specialist Walter (In Contempt; Every Knee Shall Bow), turns out a strong, character-driven serial-killer thriller. In Spokane, Wash., a handful of homicide investigators watch helplessly as one prostitute after another is found murdered in a downtown park. Sgt. Alan Dupree, an old-style cop who eschews modern police investigative methods like criminal profiling, initially leads the team. As the so-called Southbank Killer's death toll rises, Dupree is replaced by Chris Spivey, an arrogant upstart with great academic credentials but no street savvy. Spivey brings in two nationally known serial-killer profilers, who waste precious time belittling each other personally and professionally while drawing up what are essentially boilerplate profiles. Spivey also recruits Det. Caroline Mabry, a hard-working investigator who manages to rise above squad-room politics and disagreements about how the case should be handled. Mabry is a complex character, suffering from a raft of personal problems as well as career doubts. She and Dupree finally uncover evidence that the whole investigation has been built on a faulty premise. Unlike many entries in the serial killer category, Walter's stays fresh by placing character development above shock value. His focus is on the human side of police work, not on the killer and his ghoulish behavior. (Feb.) Forecasts: A rave endorsement from James Patterson, who's not nearly as blurb-happy as is, say, Stephen King, could go a ways in making readers take notice of this fine first novel. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
'An exceptional crime novel that transcends the mystery of crime and takes a courageous look at an even more profound mystery- the mystery of what it takes to continue living. As Jess Walter probes the nature of evil and its impact, he challenges his readers to reconsider their own complexity. Totally absorbing.' -- Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River and The Vision of Emma Blau 'Jess Walter has just about lapped the field with his superior first novel 'Over Tumbled Graves. The suspense and surprises are terrific, but best of all are the characters he has managed to create.' -- James Patterson, author of Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, and Pop Goes the Weasel econstructing the Serial-Killer Industry Jess Walter is a journalist and author of two previous nonfiction books, one covering the Ruby Ridge slayings and another, In Contempt, co-authored with Christopher Darden, on the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. Though both books display Walter's flair for pacing and his ability to humanize news events, neither approaches the tremendous emotional impact of his outstanding mystery debut, Over Tumbled Graves (ReganBooks, $25). This account of a fictional series of prostitute murders in Spokane, Wash., offers a whole new perspective on serial killings. Instead of fixating on the lurid details of torture or playing to readers' fears, Over Tumbled Graves primarily follows the emotional journey of the detectives trying to stop the violence. The book also uncovers the hypocrisy and ego that plague what the author calls the "serial killer industry" -- the ever-growing tribe of reporters and so-called serial-killer trackers who specialize in turning fear into profit. In doing so, Walter offers readers a wonderfully plotted story and a very effective emotional subplot involving the relationship between his two main protagonists: Detective Caroline Mabry and her former mentor, Alan Dupree. Both officers are veterans of the Spokane Police Department, and both, for personal reasons, are desperately searching for answers about evil, justice and the fairness of life. When a series of prostitutes is found strangled and dumped near the Spokane River with $20 bills folded in their hands, it seems as if a textbook serial killer is on the loose. However, when a number of similar crimes are tied into the case, things become less clear. As the evidence departs from the traditional profile of serial murders, jockeying for power within the Spokane Police Department becomes intense. Things deteriorate further when an FBI agent and a former agent join the investigative team. Both men, who purport to be profiling experts, spend most of their time vying for media attention. Meanwhile, Mabry and Dupree are quietly using their investigative skills to help unravel the complex case. The main characters in Over Tumbled Graves come from all walks of life: a man just released from prison, a young prostitute, a female cop and her cynical male mentor, a former FBI agent tortured by his ability to envision the excitement a serial killer feels. Walter's omniscient narrative explores the inner hopes, fears and motivations of all of these people -- bringing depth and tenderness of emotion to every portrait. He rejects stereotypes, giving even the bombastic serial-killer experts enough personal quirks to define them as humans rather than cartoon characters. Throughout the book, Walter uses nature metaphors to describe the effects of crime on the human spirit and our society. Vivid descriptions of the rivers, rocks and mountains surrounding Spokane balance the horrors of the killings while underscoring the dubious contributions of mankind to our world. Walter also vividly captures the inside world of cops, with setting and dialogue so real that the reader feels as if he or she were sitting in a corner of the squad room. Subplots and character details wind through the book, masquerading as minor descriptive or plot points until the very end -- when virtually every thread comes together in a riveting ending that never sacrifices action for emotional impact, or vice versa. During this climax, small moments are revealed, in retrospect, as crucial turning points in the lives of main characters. Flaws are shown to be strengths. Evil is revealed and then redeemed. Moral ground is found. Obligations are released. And hard questions are demanded of the reader. It's an outstanding conclusion worthy of the book leading up to it. Over Tumbled Graves is, in some ways, an antidote to Hannibal. Without ever taking the easy way out, the book explores the battle of good vs. evil on very human terms -- as experienced by characters the reader can actually empathize with and like. * 'An exceptional crime novel that transcends the mystery of crime and takes a courageous look at an even more profound mystery- the mystery of what it takes to continue living. As Jess Walter probes the nature of evil and its impact, he challenges his readers to reconsider their own complexity. Totally absorbing.' -- Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River and T 'Jess Walter has just about lapped the field with his superior first novel 'Over Tumbled Graves. The suspense and surprises are terrific, but best of all are the characters he has managed to create.' -- James Patterson, author of Along Came a Spider, Ki 'A home run off the first pitch...a tremendous debut, full of pace and tension and unexpected twists, but also full of depth and quiet intelligence that together lift it head and shoulders above the pack.' -- Lee Child , author of Killing Floor "[An] intelligent, gripping, and genuinely scary novel about a serial killer...compelling...realistic." -- -- Otto Penzler "A Very intelligent, assured frist novel which should have the likes of Michael Connolly and Jeffrey Deaver looking anxiously over their shoulders." -- Mike Ripley, Birmingham Post. 20011229 'Over Tumbled Graves is, in some ways, an antidote to Hannibal. Without ever taking the easy way out, the book explores the battle of good vs. evil on very human terms -- as experienced by characters the reader can actually empathize with and like." -- New Review 20011229 "A most accomplished debut." -- The Sunday Telegraph 20020113 'Insightful and absorbing, and a superb first novel for Walter' -- Tangled Web 20020113 "An intelligent, thoughtful novel." -- The Sunday Telegraph 20020113 'A strong, character-driven serial-killer thriller...complex...fresh' -- Publishers Weekly 20010201 'An accomplished character study...A very satisfying debut' -- Booklist 20010201
In this debut novel about a serial killer, reporter and nonfiction author Walter (Every Knee Shall Bow) displays his knowledge, from police procedure to forensics. The body count in Spokane suddenly spirals out of control when a drug dealer, an old man, and a pawnbroker are killed in quick succession. Soon police turn up the bodies of one prostitute after another, each clutching two $20 bills. Working the case and haunted by it, Detective Caroline Mabry has her own problems to deal with: a shooting six years earlier, relationships both actual (with a man 12 years her junior) and potential (with her older, married mentor), and her mother's death. As the special taskforce circles in on one killer, Mabry begins to question the one-suspect-fits-all theory. The book features signature serial murders, a strong female protagonist who doesn't call for backup, relationships gone awry, even dueling profilers, but it's a little short on suspense and subtlety. Walter ties everything together neatly at the end, but in this case less would have made a more satisfying thriller. A marginal purchase. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.