Book Review: Murder, DC – Neely Tucker

murder-dc-neely-tuckerTitle: Murder, DC
Author: Neely Tucker
ISBN: 9780670016594
Pages: 304
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher


Billy Ellison, the son of one of the most prominent black families in Washington, DC, has been found dead, and the location of the body? It’s a park with a bloody history, to say the least—once a slave market, now a haven for drugs and crime. Reporter Sully Carter thinks there’s more to the murder than meets the eye, and he’ll have to cross some powerful families and uncover some of DC’s darkest history in order to prove it.


I’m a sucker for local history, so when I first stumbled upon Neely Tucker’s series about a DC reporter working during the height of the crack epidemic, I knew instantly that I’d be hooked. And indeed, The Ways of the Dead was intriguing, sharply written, and stuffed to the brim with fascinating tidbits about Washington, DC’s history; I was thrilled to learn it was the first in a series, and eagerly awaited the second.

I’m happy to say that Murder, DC doesn’t disappoint a bit. It’s got the same tempo, with a damaged but sympathetic main character in Sully Carter. Sully makes bad decisions, to be sure. He’s quick to anger and is a barely functioning alcoholic. But he’s also sharp and smart. The ghosts of his past are more evident in this novel than the first; things are catching up with him, and Sully is beginning to realize that the solution to his problems can’t be found at the bottom of the bottle. The damaged main character in a crime thriller can be cliche, but Tucker excellently portrays this three dimensional character and continually develops him, making him feel fresh and new.

I loved getting into the nitty gritty of DC’s history in Murder, DC. This is a city with such a rich past, whether good or bad, and it’s important to acknowledge the negative and learn from it. The Bend, a prominent area in this novel, is fictional, but it’s certainly got counterparts in real life. Union Station, a place I pass through on a monthly, if not weekly, basis, was the site of DC’s largest slave market. These dark details and exploration of DC’s racially charged history make this series worth reading; my only complaint about this novel is that I wish there’d been more exploration of this in regard to the revelations at the end of the novel.

If you’re looking for a new series to read, it’s a great time to jump in on Neely Tucker’s novels. There are only two out now, and they’re quick reads. It’s best to read these in order, as they do build on one another in terms of characters, history, and atmosphere, but if you are only reading for plot, you’ll still find Murder, DC satisfying without reading The Ways of the Dead. I can’t recommend this series highly enough; I can tell you I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know.

Other books by Neely Tucker:

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