Half of this uneven novel from Edgar-finalist Buchanan (Nobody Lives Forever) offers a fictionalized history of the infamous, if little-known outside Florida, Prohibition-era gangster John Ashley and his moll, Laura Upthegrove. This solidly written, journalistic account can stand alone, elevating Ashley with his misunderstood criminal legacy to the ranks of a John Dillinger or a Clyde Barrow. The other half focuses on 21st-century Miami homicide detective John Ashley (no relation to the first John Ashley) and the love of his life, a beautiful model named—you guessed it—Laura. While Buchanan, a Pulitzer Prize–winning police beat reporter, clearly knows her way around cops and cop lingo, this time around the devil’s in the details. Detective Ashley’s clean-living life takes dramatic twists and turns eerily similar to those of his Prohibition-era predecessor when he’s wrongfully accused of murder. Alas, Buchanan takes the similarities to an unbelievable extreme. Smooth prose can redeem only in part the credulity-challenging present-day plot. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/26/2011 Release date: 11/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.