cover image A Dark and Lonely Place

A Dark and Lonely Place

Edna Buchanan. Simon & Schuster, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5917-0

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.)