Book Review: Only the Hunted Run – Neely Tucker

only the hunted runTitle: Only the Hunted Run
Author: Neely Tucker
ISBN: 9780525429425
Pages: 288
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

Washington Post reporter Sully Carter is in the U.S. Capitol Building when the unthinkable happens—a gunman enters the building and starts to shoot innocent bystanders. Sully is a witness to the shooting, but something about it doesn’t sit quite right with him, so he begins to dig deeper into the gunman’s past, painting a target on his own back.

Review

Neely Tucker’s Sully Carter series is one of my favorite series currently being written, no exaggeration. I love the mix of Washington, DC, history (a city I called home until just a few weeks ago), the portrayal of DC during the 1990s, the gruffness of the main character, and the mysteries he finds himself embroiled in. These are novels that make history fascinating, and their sense of place and atmosphere are on point. These are stories that couldn’t take place anywhere but Washington, DC.

Only the Hunted Run feels ripped from current headlines, even though the series takes place years ago. A gunman enters the Capitol building and starts shooting the place up. It’s horribly believable—I lived on Capitol Hill and can’t tell you how many times the building was on lockdown just in the past few months—and Tucker writes it well. The scene is searing, scary; you can feel Sully’s fear and panic. It’s a testament to Sully’s war reporting, and his ability to keep it together in dire situations (perhaps the time he keeps it together best; otherwise he’s falling apart at the seams), that he’s able to keep a cool head and figure out what to do.

One thing that Tucker does very well is take the reader into history through the story, and there’s no exception in Only the Hunted Run. Sully, the consummate outsider, has to delve into the gunman’s past, and the reader takes the plunge right along with him. The story is well-paced, and readers will want to devour it in one sitting.

If you haven’t picked up Tucker’s Sully Carter novels yet, and you enjoy mysteries, do yourself a favor and read these books. You don’t have to read them in order, but there is character development over the course of them that you’ll miss out on, and besides, these are all great novels. I certainly already can’t wait for Sully’s fourth adventure.

Other novels by Neely Tucker

The Ways of the Dead
Murder, D.C.

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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

Summary

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.

Review

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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Book Review: The Ways of the Dead – Neely Tucker

ways of the dead coverTitle: The Ways of the Dead
Author: Neely Tucker
ISBN: 9780670016587
Pages: 288
Release Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Genre:  Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

When the daughter of a prominent Washington, DC, federal judge—a candidate for the Supreme Court—is found murdered, it sets off the thick racial tensions that are everpresent in the city in the late 1990s. But reporter Sully Carter believes that there was more going on here than meets the eye, and that this murder is related to the murders of other young women in the area. He becomes determined to prove it, but he most overcome his own bad reputation and the fact that Sully is his own worst enemy.

Snapshot Review:

A fascinating look at late 1990s DC, this novel examines racial tensions while also delivering a memorable main character and a fascinating story.

Full Review:

The Ways of the Dead is the first novel in an intriguing crime series, set in a city that is slowly coming back from its worst period. Washington, DC, was not a pretty place in the late 1990s, which is when this story is set. In fact, the murders that Tucker based this novel on actually happened in the city; in a place with such a high crime rate, it was easy to overlook the disappearances of young women. Tucker really writes the atmosphere of the city well in this novel; at the center are the racial tensions in the book. The murder of a young white girl, the main suspects three young black males: just that scenario was enough to cause chaos in the divided city. Indeed, the racial tensions that Tucker depicts so well linger into today’s Washington, DC. As a result, though this book is set over a decade in the past, it is still timely and informative, in terms of the way the local politics of Washington, DC, works.

Sully is an interesting character in The Ways of the Dead. He’s an alcoholic, still haunted by his experiences reporting in Bosnia during the war. He drowns his sorrows in his drinks, and he doesn’t have the best reputation around the office. It’s interesting, because Sully is such a smart and capable reporter. He ends up being his own worst enemy, unable to control his temper or play politics when he needs to. Honestly, he shouldn’t be easy to like because he’s so rough around the edges, but the reader really gets to see into him, see what haunts him, and they can’t help but connect with him emotionally.

As I mentioned, the mystery in The Ways of the Dead is actually based on a real string of murders that happened in Washington, DC, which definitely heightens the experience. It’s gripping and twisty; I honestly had no idea what to expect beyond every page. It’s disturbing, to be sure, a novel about the darker corners of our urban spaces. Tucker did an incredible job with this book, from atmosphere to characterization, and I look forward to seeing where he sends Sully next.

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