Long Black Veil: A Novel

· Sold by Crown
4 reviews

About this ebook

Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2017

For fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott, a novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past, from the New York Times bestselling author of She's Not There

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it’s not long before they realize they are locked in—and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors’ lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them—celebrity chef Jon Casey— with murder. Only Casey’s old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.

But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own – secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?

Weaving deftly between 1980 and the present day, and told in an unforgettable voice, Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. Readers will hail this as Boylan’s triumphant return to fiction.

Ratings and reviews

4 reviews
Bookish Leigh
May 24, 2017
This novel was my first experience with the author's work and I was left with the sorts of mixed feelings I seem to keep encountering the more I branch out with reading author's new to me. There's a the part of me that sees the skill and is like "ok, yeah I understand why this person it writing books for a major publishing house the talent for storytelling has been witnessed. This ability is what kept this book from being unpleasant and it wasn't, at no point while reading 'A Long Black Veil' did I ever want to say "screw it" and leave it to sleep among my other DNF novels. It's also what leaves me open to the idea of reading some of the author's other work. That being said this particular novel did not work for me at all. It was just such an odd bizarre story. This book starts out feeling like a horror novel, the book blurb described it in a way that made me think it was suppose to psychological thriller type deal, it was actually mostly about gender identity and how someone handles who they were born as, who they once lived as, and who they've chosen to become. There's also an abortion, a boy/man with a vaguely described developmental/neurological condition, a cop who was also a roofie rapist obsessed with a missing person/ murder, and another cop who is apparently so abhorrent at her job she thinks that a women found dead with her husband's pocket knife proves he murdered her because married people have each other's possessions on them? There's also a very sweet character who's obesity is repeatedly mentioned. None of these things actually have anything to do with the story and serve very little purpose. To me it felt as if the author attempted to hide the superficial nature of this stories smaller characters by assigning extreme events or off the wall characteristics to them. It ends up providing a distracting sense of absurdity to the story that didn't feel intentional. It was all just a little to chaotic and the aspects of the story just didn't meld well together.
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S M (MaChienneLit)
August 25, 2017
I am voluntarily submitting my honest review after receiving an ARC of this ebook from NetGalley. This book is a portrait of six college students who break into an abandoned prison in 1980 one night, looking for a thrill, but get more than they bargained for when the realize the doors have locked behind them. In a horrifying turn of events, the group is separated, and one member of the party ends up dead. The surviving five go their separate ways and try to move on, but they are forever changed. When new evidence is discovered decades later and Jon is charged with murder, only Judith can testify to his innocence. However, in helping Casey, Judith risks exposing secrets of her own that could destroy the life she has painstakingly built in the aftermath of that fateful night. While the mystery is good, the novel is really a character study. What captivated me was Boylan's writing style. Her lyrical, almost melodic prose flows so freely it is almost like music in parts. Unfortunately, there are some parts of the plot that don't hold up to scrutiny. SPOI:LER ALERT!!! For example, why does it take so long for investigators to discover the body if it was there since the murder occurred? Logically, the search parties should have discovered it when the five survivors emerged without the sixth member of their party. SPOILER OVER--In any case, this book is still a good, quick read, and perfect for the times we live in currently. It is incredibly thought provoking, both in a personal sense and in a larger context, begging a variety of questions. How does our past continually shape our future, even when we make a conscious effort to leave it behind? What obligation do we have to tell the complete truths about ourselves to help others, even if in saving others we may destroy ourselves and others close to us? Are lies of omission ever justified? Can one major event separate our life into a "before" and an "after" or must the two lives always converge? The book also more obliquely begs the question of whether Judith's life would have been any different if she were born now in what is presumably an age of greater tolerance (or at least was until the last election)?
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Barbara Berry
November 13, 2017
Loved this complicated plot. The difficulties of being transgender are well described.
1 person found this review helpful
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About the author

JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN, author of fourteen books, is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University in the City of New York and is Special Advisor to the president of Colby College in Maine. She has been a contributor to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times since 2007; in 2013 she became Contributing Opinion Writer for the page. Jenny also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She is the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide, and serves as a consultant to several television series. A novelist, memoirist, and short-story writer, she is also a nationally known advocate for civil rights. Jenny has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on four occasions; Live with Larry King twice; the Today show; the Barbara Walters Special; and NPR's Marketplace and Talk of the Nation. She has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News' 48 Hours and The History Channel. She lives in New York City and in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deedie, and her two sons, Zach and Sean.

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