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A Penny for the Hangman    by Tom Savage order for
Penny for the Hangman
by Tom Savage
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2014 (2014)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Karen Tyler's life is perfect, going just the way she imagined it should be. She finished her education without debt, is writing professionally for an upscale weekly magazine, and is living with someone she loves and plans to marry. If only her mother were alive to share it.

Karen's current assignment is a series of articles about a long ago mass murder which took place in the Virgin Islands. The murders were committed by Rodney Harper, fifteen years old, and Wulf Alderman, fourteen. Best friends, the boys grew up on the island in wealthy privileged families. Families they slaughtered in cold blood on Rodney's birthday.

Although the murders happened fifty years ago, they have never been out of the news for long. Books and articles, a TV miniseries, two theatrical films and even a Broadway play have been written about them. It seems the world cannot get enough of the notorious bad boys. Karen's articles are a prelude to an upcoming movie that will premiere at about the same time her last article will hit the newsstands. The movie is expected to be a hit and so are her articles.

For the last article of the series, Karen has the interview of a lifetime with one of the killers. He contacted her after her first article appeared. She is invited to St. Thomas for the interview but doesn't know whether she's meeting Rodney or Wulf. The boys, now men in their sixties, were released from prison years before. The killer has requested that Karen come to the island alone. A curious request, but what threat could an old man be to her? He apparently just craves attention.

Savage's suspenseful tale about present danger and a long ago murder is held together using letters, diary entries and old newspaper articles. The plot is fresh and the setting is a tropical paradise. Who could ask for more?

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