Revolver by Duane Swierczynski
Three generations – torn apart by one bullet.
Philadelphia 1965: Two street cops – one black, one white – are gunned down in a robbery gone wrong. The killer is never prosecuted. One of the fallen officers, Stanislaw Walczak, leaves behind a twelve-year-old boy, Jimmy…
Philadelphia 1995: Homicide detective Jim Walczak learns that his father’s alleged killer, Terrill Lee Stanton, is out of prison. Walczak will be waiting, determined to squeeze the truth out of him – any way he can.
Philadelphia 2015: Jim Walczak’s daughter Audrey, studying forensic science in grad school, reinvestigates her grandfather’s murder for her dissertation. But the deeper Audrey digs, the more she realises: the man everyone thinks killed Walczak didn’t do it…
And when the truth comes out, the danger’s only going to grow.
I am a huge fan of this publisher, they seem to have a brilliant eye for spotting great talent. This is my first by this author, but will definitely not, be my last. I love the real American cop/noir feel to this novel and think the interwoven individual stories works incredibly well.
This novel is the unsolved crime from the past that links three generations of the same family. The beginning is the murder of Philadelphia beat cops, Stanislaw ‘Stan’ Walczak and George W Wildey, killed in the line of duty. The 1964/5 narrative unravels the days that led up to the crime.
What drove someone to kill two of the states finest cops?
The second narrative is Stan’s son, Jimmy Wakczak. Jim being only 12yrs old at the time of the double murder. It is the case that compelled him to be a cop and has caused him great pain and grief throughout the 1995 era and up to the modern day.
What secrets lurk in the closet of Jimmy aka ‘The Captain’?
The modern narrative is told from the perspective of Jim’s daughter Audrey. She is a second year student of a intense forensics course at university of Houston. Upon returning to Philadelphia for her grandfather’s 50-year memorial, she decides to use her new found skills to finally solve the case. How do you solve a murder committed 50 years ago? When the witnesses are dead and the case has remained cold. Audrey has no idea what a hornets nest she will stir up and how much it will impact everyone she knows and loves…………
The Walczak family is full of many characters. Audrey was without a doubt my favourite. She is feisty, tough and driven. But she also has deep emotional scars from her upbringing and relationships with family members. Resulting in her refusal to bear the Walczak name! Jim is a solid career cop. He has paid a heavy price for the mistakes of his past. Throughout the novel we see him desperately trying to juggle his past and his broken relationship with his daughter. The Walczak family are most definitely not the Waltons! Seth’s character is introduced in such a unique era. 1965, the Martin Luther King era and working side by side with a black police officer as his partner. Seth has progressive views for the 1960s era and I really liked the partnership between him and George. They complimented each other so very well.
All they wanted to do was clear up their area of the city!
The novel opens on the evening of the murder 7th May 1965. Stan and George are enjoying a cold beer at a local bar after a tough day on the job. They are supposed to be at a local protest but are on a covert operation, investigating something secret only the two of them know so far. They wait at the bar of their snitch/informant Terrill Lee Stanton, when in busts a gunman armed with a revolver……..
In 1995 Terrill has just been released from a life sentence in jail. Jim finds out on the 30th anniversary of his father’s murder and vows to make Terrill talk. The hate that Jim has stored up for Terrill flows of the pages. This is a man out for revenge, a man with a score to settle. But did Terrill murder his father?
How far is Jim willing to go to know the truth?
When Audrey returns to the state for the memorial, it is evident there are some clear family problems. Audrey believes these to be due to her adoption and doesn’t really see eye to eye with anyone in her family. But what I loved about Audrey, is that there is so much more to her than meets the eye!
The novel plays out in flowing chapters from the eras. It’s very cleverly done, as the reader, you become engrossed in each era and become intrigued into how they tie together. In 1995 Jim is trying to solve a tough case. The rape and murder of a young woman. It is a very dark case and he battles this with the media attention and local politics. Each era, has a theme of racial tensions and I felt they were accurate portrayals. The location of Philadelphia is fully explained to the non-US reader. There are even some cool maps on the inside cover of the city and how it changes though the decades. The area that Stan and George patrol is known locally as the jungle. What it is in fact, is one of the first areas of the city to be flooded with heroin.
Where heroin goes, violent crime is sure to follow….
There are a wealth of characters and to include all of them in this review, would leave many, many spoilers. The author has clearly gone to great lengths to ensure that all demographics of the city/era are covered. It works brilliantly. All the twists and turns are linked to the secret and lies of the past. The crime of the past that will touch painfully on three generations.
This is a perfect blend of historical fiction and crime fiction.
Highly recommended 5*
“I’m going to find the man who did this to you. And I’m going to make him pay” Jim at his father’s funeral