is an edge-of-the-seat suspense novel that graphically portrays the final moments leading up to a condemned killer's appointment with the executioner. The plot is familiar but convincing: An inmate, Frank Beachum, denies any involvement in the murder of a young pregnant woman. His only chance for survival lies in the hands of a reporter, Steven Everett. From the very first page, however, veteran suspense writer Andrew Klavan
does everything possible to make this journalist unlikable--he drinks too much, he's committed adultery. In fact, the incarcerated Beachum, who stands accused of a hideous crime, comes across as a much more decent person than Everett.
Foes of capital punishment will find in True Crime another buttress to the oft-expressed argument that state-sanctioned murder is not always just, that some police investigations are sloppy even when they're not politically tinged or racially motivated, and that exonerating evidence is often overlooked. Here such evidence is so glaringly overlooked that it's possible for a somewhat drunken reporter with plenty of other things on his mind (a wife who's about to leave him and a boss who's just discovered that Everett is cuckolding him) to spot the inconsistencies. He follows a hunch, discovers the identity of the real killer, and tries to clear Beachum's name as the minutes tick away. The relentless pace and Klavan's crisp, taut writing make the suspension of disbelief possible, and no doubt Clint Eastwood, who stars in the movie version, will make Steven Everett a more likely and likable hero. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Though this is only Klavan's fourth novel under his own name (he received two Edgar Awards for pseudonymous mysteries), his stylistic range and thoroughly compelling plots have earned him a loyal readership?an audience that should be broadened with this gripping tale. Here Klavan puts an intensely human, often intriguingly quirky face on a familiar plot device: the race to save a convicted killer on death row. When a St. Louis News staffer crashes her car hours before her scheduled interview with Frank Beachum (the interview itself to take place just eight hours before Beachum's execution), reporter Steve Everett is handed the assignment. Everett, 35 (and possessing "wicked, sharply angled brows and a wicked, sharply angled smile"), is already under pressure: though married, he has been shtupping the boss's wife, which creates no little tension at work and at home. Furthermore, he comes to believe that Beachum is innocent, and both personal ethics and career opportunism propel him to pursue his theory. To this end, Klavan gives us the photo finish to end all photo finishes: readers may be gasping for breath by the time Beachum's fate is decided. Even before that, however, the author's vivid characterizations and dramatic prose?packed with tension, black humor and wry observations on the human condition?command attention. Alternating chapters (their style changing as deftly as their settings) present a harrowing portrait of a killer's final hours along with perceptively observed personal and professional crises of an oddly likable schlemiel. 250,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to 20th Century-Fox; simultaneous Random House audio.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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