The intrepid author returns with his first book since the best-selling Fire (2001). Junger tells the story of a sex crime that rocked the small suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1963 and the awful repercussions it had for the inhabitants of the town, including his own family. The victim of the crime, Bessie Goldberg, hires a handyman named Roy Smith to help with chores in her home. Smith is a black man unusual in the predominantly white town of Belmont and when Bessie's neighbors see him leave her house, they take note. After Bessie is murdered, Smith gets blamed for the crime and sent to jail. The author connects Smith's story with that of carpenter Albert DeSalvo, who was working at the Junger home on the day of the murder. DeSalvo later claims that he is the Boston Strangler, the notorious murderer who'd been tormenting Boston and neighboring communities, including Belmont. DeSalvo goes to jail, where he is later killed by an inmate. Although DeSalvo never confessed to the killing of Bessie Goldberg, Junger ponders the possibility that he might have been her murderer. He also explores the possibility that Smith might have been convicted of the crime simply because he was black. Fans of The Perfect Storm will welcome this book as another spine-tingling tale, elegantly told, from a master of nonfiction.
A reading group guide is available online at www.harperperennial.com.