cover image The Art of Violence

The Art of Violence

S.J. Rozan. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-531-1

Edgar winner Rozan brilliantly inverts a whodunit trope in her outstanding 13th mystery featuring New York City PIs Lydia Chin and Bill Smith (after 2019’s Paper Son): instead of seeking exoneration, a convicted killer seeks to be proven guilty. Six years earlier, Bill was on Sam Tabor’s defense team after Sam was charged with murdering Amy Evans, whom he’d stabbed to death at a party after drinking some punch laced with PCP. Sam, who had no previous history of violence, rejected an insanity defense, and accepted a plea deal. But Sam’s 15-to-life sentence was curtailed after a successful campaign for his release spearheaded by activists who believed that his artistic gifts, discovered during his imprisonment, merited clemency. Now, after two women who resemble Evans are fatally stabbed in the city, Sam feels that he’s once again responsible, and beseeches Bill to prove his guilt. Bill isn’t sure what to believe, and aided by Lydia navigates a twisted path to the truth. As always, Rozan’s intelligent, witty prose is a treat, and she justifies a choice made in the previous book regarding the relationship between her two leads. Newcomers as well as devotees will be enthralled. Agent: Josh Getzler, Hannigan Getzler Literary. (Dec.)