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The Ways of the Dead    by Neely Tucker order for
Ways of the Dead
by Neely Tucker
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker deserves more than simply being classed as a mystery. It goes much deeper than the usual mystery fare.

This is the first installment in a brand new crime series. I'm already looking forward to the second installment. This novel delves deeply into gritty journalism and the people involved in putting out a daily newspaper and the decisions they must make to run with a story or not. How those decisions, even on the side of truth, can reach back to bite them you know where unless they can back up every word.

It takes a good look at the privileged life of a federal judge who is looking toward a seat on the Supreme Court. Should those in charge be made responsible for their own misgivings? Race relations are addressed and the attitude of the authorities when a young black girl goes missing as opposed to how the disappearance of a white girl is treated.

The body of the white daughter of a federal judge is discovered in a dumpster in a run-down section of D.C.. A manhunt is on with everyone available to search for the killer doing so. Three black young men are arrested. When two young women - one black, the other Latina - had gone missing, nothing much had been done to find them.

War journalist Sully Carter, back from the war in Bosnia, is suffering from physical war wounds and from the death of Nadia, the woman with whom he had hoped to spend the rest of his life. He takes exception to the manner in which the black and Latino residents of Washington, D.C., are being treated by the police.

He races around D.C. on his 1993 Ducati motorcycle running down tips and stopping at most of the gin mills in the seamier sections of the city. His drinking doesn't seem to slow him down but his bosses at the paper warn him he could be fired if he doesn't quit. He does have a run-in with a drug lord who tells him that the three young blacks did not kill the judge's daughter. They will be released from custody soon. He questions this but relies on the drug lord to give him the right info.

With Carter trying to see a connection between the missing women and the death of the white girl, he stumbles on information he would not have believed, but is very happy to have.

I will tell you no more. I can't spoil one moment of this carefully written work. Every word has a place and connects to others that make up a superior story that must be read. The characters are as shady as you would like them to be and I look forward to meeting them again.

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