Book Review: Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Long Black VeilLong Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: April 17, 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

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?

Long Black Veil starts off in 1980 with six friends sneaking into a closed, run-down prison. They get locked in and one of them goes missing. Thirty-five years later, her remains are found and her husband Jon Casey is the prime suspect of her murder. His old friend Judith can attest to his innocence. We meet Judith in 2015, after the remains are found. What her connection to Casey is actually more of a mystery than who the murderer is.

Long Black Veil is categorized as a thriller but I don’t think it is. It’s more character than plot driven. And not very suspenseful. It gets off to a slow start. I was a little confused at the beginning about what was happening in the prison in 1980. Once I got past that part, it got much better. Most of the focus is on Judith and what’s going on with her in the present day. Not a lot is actually about the murder or the friends who were in the prison together. I can’t say too much more without revealing Judith’s secret.

This book has LGBT characters and Boylan herself is transgender so this book may be of special interest if you are trying to read more books with LGBT characters or written by LBGT authors. I know it can be hard to find them sometimes. But I would recommend this book to anyone as long as you remember that it’s not a thriller and adjust your expectations accordingly.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.)