cover image Long Black Veil

Long Black Veil

Jennifer Finney Boylan. Crown, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-451-49632-4

At the start of this madcap thriller full of hidden identities from Boylan (She’s Not There), a night of goofy postcollege mischief goes horribly amiss in Philadelphia’s shut-down Eastern State Penitentiary in 1980. When human remains surface at the site decades after the party, one of the six revelers, Jon Casey—now a top chef in Philadelphia—is charged, although the gumshoe assigned to review the cold case files senses more than a possible crime of passion has been covered up. In the interim, it appears that another party participant, a friend of Casey’s, may have faked his own death. In rural Maine, freelance writer Judith Carrigan, who knew both the victim and Casey back when, knows the latter to be innocent. But to help Casey would put her family and happiness on the line. Boylan’s bluff, witty prose (“my actual innocence got on his nerves”) charms away any impatience with more far-fetched aspects of her loopy plot. And embedded in the whodunit is a heartwarming midlife love story, in which hard-won candor, tenacity, and a generous sense of humor are the most saving of graces. Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM. (Apr.)