In the heat of the city, a man is out of time: speeding in a beat-up Ford Tempo, blasting easy-listening music. Reporter Steve Everett drinks too much, makes love to his boss’s wife, and has just stumbled upon a shocking truth: a convicted killer is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit.
Though this is only Klavan’s fourth novel under his own name (he received two Edgar Awards for pseudonymous mysteries), his stylistic range and thoroughly compelling plots have earned him a loyal readership?an audience that should be broadened with this gripping tale. Here Klavan puts an intensely human, often intriguingly quirky face on a familiar plot device: the race to save a convicted killer on death row. When a St. Louis News staffer crashes her car hours before her scheduled interview with Frank Beachum (the interview itself to take place just eight hours before Beachum’s execution), reporter Steve Everett is handed the assignment. Everett, 35 (and possessing “wicked, sharply angled brows and a wicked, sharply angled smile”), is already under pressure: though married, he has been shtupping the boss’s wife, which creates no little tension at work and at home. Furthermore, he comes to believe that Beachum is innocent, and both personal ethics and career opportunism propel him to pursue his theory. To this end, Klavan gives us the photo finish to end all photo finishes: readers may be gasping for breath by the time Beachum’s fate is decided. Even before that, however, the author’s vivid characterizations and dramatic prose?packed with tension, black humor and wry observations on the human condition?command attention. Alternating chapters (their style changing as deftly as their settings) present a harrowing portrait of a killer’s final hours along with perceptively observed personal and professional crises of an oddly likable schlemiel. 250,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to 20th Century-Fox; simultaneous Random House audio.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the cold confines of Death Row, Frank Beachum is also out of time. Ready to say good-bye to the wife and child he loves and hello to the God he still believes in, Beachum knows he did not kill a convenience store clerk six years ago. But in a few hours–if Steve Everett can’t find the evidence to stop it–a needle is going to pierce Frank Beachum’s skin.
The killing machine is primed. The executioner is waiting. And so is the priest. Now the clock is ticking down and the race is on–between the reporter and his demons, between the system and its lethal flaws, between the last innocent man and society’s ultimate crime . . . .
“True Crime is an edge-of-the-seat suspense novel that graphically portrays the final moments leading up to a condemned killer’s appointment with the executioner. The plot is familiar but convincing: An inmate, Frank Beachum, denies any involvement in the murder of a young pregnant woman. His only chance for survival lies in the hands of a reporter, Steven Everett. From the very first page, however, veteran suspense writer Andrew Klavan does everything possible to make this journalist unlikable–he drinks too much, he’s committed adultery. In fact, the incarcerated Beachum, who stands accused of a hideous crime, comes across as a much more decent person than Everett. Foes of capital punishment will find in True Crime another buttress to the oft-expressed argument that state-sanctioned murder is not always just, that some police investigations are sloppy even when they’re not politically tinged or racially motivated, and that exonerating evidence is often overlooked. Here such evidence is so glaringly overlooked that it’s possible for a somewhat drunken reporter with plenty of other things on his mind (a wife who’s about to leave him and a boss who’s just discovered that Everett is cuckolding him) to spot the inconsistencies. He follows a hunch, discovers the identity of the real killer, and tries to clear Beachum’s name as the minutes tick away. The relentless pace and Klavan’s crisp, taut writing make the suspension of disbelief possible, and no doubt Clint Eastwood, who stars in the movie version, will make Steven Everett a more likely and likable hero.” –Jane Adams
“Time flies when you’re having fun, waiting to die, or reading True Crime, Andrew Klavan’s nerve-plucking suspense novel…A beat-the-clock suspense thriller.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“A classic . . . True Crime moves like a tornado, its plot turning in tighter and tighter circles until it explodes in an ending that will leave readers exhausted. . . . His characters are vivid and compelling, his observations on the human condition perceptive, and his darkly humorous prose masterful.”
“The most suspenseful and exciting novel I have read in the last couple of years. The adrenaline was flowing so strongly near the end, I actually thought my heart might give out. A wonderful, funny, heartbreaking, powerful book.”
–John Lescroart, author of Guilt
“One of the best novels to come down the pike in years…so gripping and plot-switching that you won’t be able to put it down.” –USA TODAY
“Simultaneously intense and funny and harrowing, teeming with precise and memorable character studies, topped off with a surprise ending…Excruciatingly suspenseful.”
“The narrative plunges on at breakneck speed . . . a literate, heartfelt, and suspenseful novel of the rough friction of life. I enjoyed the hell out of it.”
“A page-turning thriller . . . A suspense-filled story with vivid characters and a stunning portrayal of contemporary time and place.”
–San Antonio Express-News
“Big, scary fun. Fill up the coffee pot and lock the doors before beginning.”
“An ingenious, wickedly comic, and painfully sensitive roller coaster . . . Has you gasping for air . . . Klavan does give you pockets of repose, with somber, heart-wrenching scenes on Death Row juxtaposed with Everett’s bumper-car race to the truth.”
–West Coast Review of Books
“WARNING: Andrew Klavan has an astonishing gift: he can patch his characters into your spine. You’ll be reading this brilliant, riveting, dangerous novel, and suddenly you’ll find that Beachum’s Deathwatch cell has become your own,and there’s no way out of here, you’re not going anywhere until the hour of your own execution, until Klavan’s finished with you. So say your prayers before you open this book.”
–George Dawes Green, author of The Juror
“A breakneck one-day death-row countdown . . . Klavan incinerates improbabilities with bravura bravado.”
“A terrific read . . . Klavan is simply shameless in serving the suspense. . . . For that, and much else, we’d like to thank him.”
“True Crime gives the most compelling fictional tour yet of the last mile . . . readers won’t stop turning pages . . . Klavan presents with chilling precision and a gift for language the results of his research.”
“The best thriller of this year . . . The most intriguing and artful I have ever read.”
–The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“This is one novel you won’t put down until the last twist has been unraveled and the last oh-so-satisfying page has been turned.”
“Life shuts down while you’re immersed in this book . . . it’s a keeper.”
–Chattanooga Free Press
“I’ve admired Andrew Klavan’s work for years. But this book offers more suspense–and more surprises–than his other books put together! Readers always ask me which authors I find most chilling. After reading True Crime, Andrew Klavan is at the top of my list.”
–R.L. Stine — Review