Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Long Black Veil

Jennifer Finney Boylan

Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. 

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Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2017

For fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott, a novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past, from the New York Times bestselling author of She's Not There

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it’s not long before they realize they are locked in—and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors’ lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them—celebrity chef Jon Casey— with murder. Only Casey’s old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.

But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own – secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?

Weaving deftly between 1980 and the present day, and told in an unforgettable voice, Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. Readers will hail this as Boylan’s triumphant return to fiction.

Advance Galley Reviews

This is an amazing book that surprised in many ways. Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is extremely well-written, has strong characters, and an ending I could only hope for! This is a tough review to write simply because I don't want to spoil anything, but the best things I want to talk about might be considered spoilers. The mystery at the crux of the story is a simple one, and perhaps because it is so simple, we never really see it coming. All is revealed to the reader midway through the book, which is a good thing because the heart of this novel doesn't lie in solving the mystery. The heart of this novel lies in piecing these people together. In watching them struggle to overcome what happened, stutter, fail, and then try again. Only after everything has been brought to light is there any hope of moving forward. There are slight suggestions to spoilers here as I will briefly touch upon the ending. I was worried, given what unfolds in the book, that the ending would be one we see all too often. A trope that I hate with a passion that befalls characters like Judith, where they are denied happy endings and used as a means of self-reflection for other..... 'mainstream' characters. Boylan definitely teases that this is the way it will end, that we will get that predictable ending so many characters like Judith meet in 'mainstream' fiction, but thanks to every deity, we don't get that. We get a good ending. Perhaps some cynics will say it was too saccharine considering the events of the book, but I disagree, and would argue that those readers possibly missed the point. The point of the mystery, the point of the novel. That holding onto hate, to darkness, to secrets, will poison and consume you, will lead you to darker roads you might not be able to turn away from. Yet, if you persevere, you face the truth, and are willing to accept the same in others, then yes, good things are possible. Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is an extremely well-written novel that draws its suspense not primarily from the mystery, but from the interpersonal relationships between old friends and former selves; the struggle for self-acceptance for ALL of the characters.

Unfortunately, this book didn't do it for me. The setup was right up my alley: College students in a dilapidated Eastern State Penitentiary? Mystery murderer? Cold case investigation? Transgender main character story of 'self-discovery?' YES! But unfortunately, the pieces did not add up to a worthwhile read. The writing style twisted and turned with no clear direction and attempted to link 10 characters with little to no background. Difficult to start and tricky to maintain with changing narrators and an uninteresting murder investigation story.

I was really disappointed in this book. Although the story was intriguing, the writing slowed the pace of the novel so much that I could not enjoy it. I finished it because I was reading it for the Penguin First to Read program, and found a great story and plot in the end, but I'm not a fan of the writing style.

I received an advanced copy of this book in electronic format from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on goodreads.com Although it took me a few days to really get into this book, the finish was worth it. There were a lot of characters and each had their own story, so it took a bit to keep them all straight at the beginning, especially when it wasn't the easiest book to pick up. However, all the tales told throughout, interwoven through the other tales, all came together pleasantly at the end. What I liked about the book was the depth the author gave to each main character; they were all described in vast detail to the point that you could understand each action they took. The historical aspect of the prison in Philadelphia was also quite interesting and led me to do some further reading about it. The story had a charming humor, almost black comedy-ish; I could see this being a very fun movie. What I didn't like about the book was the slight references to ghosts, because that's all they were: slight references; never did they get expanded upon or proven. I felt like it was unnecessary. This was a very entertaining read and I was glad to learn that this author has many other books that I will try to read.

I had a difficult time getting into this book, mostly because I think the book lacks direction. The author drops us right into the middle of things without really developing the characters or explaining the situation. We are introduced to six characters all at once and from there, things just go downhill. It's hard to tell these characters apart and by the time I had a general sense of who each character was, the book was mostly over. Billed as a mystery, Donna Tart-style fiction, this book disappoints. The book is centered around a mystery, but the author devotes most of the book to telling the story of Judith, a transgender woman. Because the author spent so much time on Judith, it seemed distracting when we learned about the murder and by the time the mystery was solved, I didn't care at all. Perhaps if this book had been 200 pages longer, had better direction and character development, I would've enjoyed this book more. As is, I'm not quite sure what the author was trying to accomplish with this book.

On the one hand, Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is about an individual emotional journey of self-discovery. This is the "character" part of the book. On the other hand, this book is about a murder mystery and about a group of friends who survive a severe trauma. This is the "plot" part of this book. Unfortunately, the two aspects of this story compete with each other, making this a challenging book for me. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/04/long-black-veil.html. Reviewed for the Penguin First to Read program.

I couldn't make it past the first 20 pages. There were so many characters thrown at me in the initial pages that I couldn't sort them out. The premise sounded interesting, but the execution didn't work for me.

Long Black Veil is a story about a group of friends who get accidentally locked into a defunct prison several years back; one of the friends does not make it out of the prison. In present time, the bones of the deceased friend have just been found and the friends are forced to revisit the events that took place in the prison so long ago. It was very hard to get into this story with the shift in narrators and time changes almost every chapter. I found it very confusing at first, but eventually got used to it and was able to enjoy the story a little more. Quentin ends up being the main character even though he really has little to do with what actually happened. He ends up with the best story, but it would have been nice if some of the other “friends” could have had more face time being that they were more closely connected to the main event. The story ends up giving us a look into what it is like to be transgender, which was a turn I was not expecting, but was glad to have read it. Overall, I found the story compelling enough to keep reading, but kind of let down by the ending.

I was very confused reading this book. Shifted time and narrators, so that I wasn't sure what was going on when. It got better, or I got used to the shifts. Once I got into it, the story line was very interesting and kept me reading.

Thanks so much First to Read,I had not read the first book by Jennifer Finney Boylan but the link to my all time favourite book,'The Secret History' ,had ne excited to read it. I was not at all disappointed,it was wonderfully eloquent,mysterious and literary and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Will be excited,having pre-ordered it,to read it again!

This book is getting attention because of the author which is fine and deserved, I just wish it was a different book. The main character seeks understanding and love from all around her. I have no problem with that and am happy to read a book with that theme. The author, on the other hand, judges everyone mercilessly. She can't mention the nicest man in the book without fat shaming him. The two meanest people literally get away with murder. Even Betty Friedan comes under attack for her presumed feelings about trans people. Really? My eyes just kept rolling and rolling with each new absurdity. The "happy" ending is ridiculous and contains more swats at various characters. I would never have finished this book it I had not received an ARC from First to Read. I do thank them.

This book tells the story of a group of friends who get mysteriously locked in the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. One of their number goes missing and years and years later skeletal remains of the missing friend brings to the surface all the issues and the angst. I found this book compelling and not at the same time. I thought the reveal of the original intention of the reason for missing friend kind of killed the story. I thought Quentin and his story arc was the best developed, but would have liked for the other characters to be as well.

I usually getting annoyed with books that constantly changes narrative, and I was a bit confused in the beginning, but a got a bit easier for me to follow as the story progress. Once I got toward the middle of the book, I found it hard to put down. I really wanted to know how everything unraveled. Overall I enjoyed the story, and I liked Judith's character. Looking forward to more novels from this author.

Started off really confusing... very confusing. There were a lot of characters to keep up with and each of their relationships. At some point, I had to write it down because it was ruining my reading experience. Very interesting mystery for the most part. It didn't suck me in the way I hoped it would. Though I don't think it was because the story was lacking. Judith was the best part of this book. I haven't read many LGBT books- so I was immediately drawn to her. Parts of the novel felt thrown together. Halfway through the book it was clear we could have done away with a handful of characters. At least not be forced to read an entire chapter from the "extra" cast members' POV. 3.5 / 5 stars

Jennifer Boylan is a new to me author and I will be looking forward to reading more by her. I enjoyed this one very much!

As other reviewers have noted, this book was not what I was expecting. The mystery was interesting, if not particularly compelling. A group of six friends find themselves locked in an abandoned penitentiary; one of them goes missing. They are released, but are forever changed by the experience. Circumstances demand they reunite when the remains of their dead friend are found twenty years later. I did not feel like any of the characters were fully developed for the reader, with the exception of Quentin. His story was the only compelling arc within the larger novel. The novel was written from multiple points of view and was told in a series of flashbacks. The changes in voice and time made reading the story confusing. I am sorry to say I found the entire story lackluster at best.

This book was not at all what I expected. I am a huge fan of Donna Tartt and I feel like the comparison to her missed the mark. With that said, I did enjoy the story in it's own right. The characters and plot were intriguing and I found myself unable to put this down. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

The official Penguin Random House blurb for this book begins, "for fans of Donna Tartt..." That's a tough comparison to live up to for any author that is not Tartt herself, and this book doesn't quite hit the mark. So, fans of Tartt's deep character-building and intricate storytelling, you are fairly warned. But I do see where the tempation to draw that comparison comes from. Long Black Veil chronicles the journey of a group of college friends who get locked in Philadelphia's abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. One of them mysteriously vanishes. The book follows the fall-out across their lives over the course of the next 35 years. It is a suspenseful story, and encourages late-night "just one more chapter" reading sessions. The story of Judith Carrigan is finely told. Hers was the only character that I thought was fully fleshed out. Otherwise, the cast of characters was so large and so quickly introduced that I had trouble remembering who was who right up until the end of the book. The twists and turns keep the reader engaged. It's a fun read overall and I would recommend it. Thank you to the Penguin Random House First to Read program for providing me with an advance review copy.

I kind of feel like I was tricked into reading this book. I'm a huge fan of ghost hunting shows and tales and when I read this was about a night in Eastern State Penitentiary and the lasting outcomes, I thought for sure this was going to be an awesome ghost story. However, it was not. Instead it was mostly about the struggles of a transgender. Also, the characters are supposed to be in their 50s in the present day and I'm sure I've heard more intelligent and mature dialogue between my 8 year old son and his friends. Very disappointed in this book

This book got its title from the Johnny Cash song though I will tell you I do not get the connection. I finally figured out how the picture on the cover related to the book, a bit later than I would like to admit. The basic premise of the story is that a group of college friends go to check out a closed prison and while there one of them disappears. 20 years later, the body is found and her husband is accused of her murder. Only one person can prove his innocence. This is where the real story comes in to play. And, while it may be a spoiler to some people, it shouldn’t be. Casey’s witness has had a sex change and is now a woman. Her friends think she is dead and her husband doesn’t know about her past. The finding of the body increases the need for Judith to out herself to save her friend. But can she do it? The story telling bounces around between the past and the present as puzzle pieces fall into place and we learn the real who-done-it as well as follow Judith on her journey. Ms. Boylan’s characters are strong and well defined. Her points may not be bolded, but through the pages you come to see the transgender struggle. I was completely in awe at how well this one quote sums up how many people feel about those who are on untraditional paths, not just transgenders: “Changing genders seemed like a very complicated way of solving a problem that was more simply solved by accepting the body that you had.” Oh, if it were only so simple! But Ms. Boylan doesn’t hit the reader upside the head with her politics. Instead, the emotions and the reality are woven graciously throughout the book. This book should be applauded for presenting a relatable face to something that confuses many people. With multi-layered plots and well developed characters, this book is more than just a really really good mystery!

I just couldn't get into this book. While the mystery is vaguely interesting, the characters are not compelling at all and the many POV changes really throw me out of the story. The chapters switch between so many characters that I lose track of who is who exactly and why I should care about them when I can't get to know them. The chapters also switch between many different years, which further confuses me. I stopped caring about the story and will not put myself through this. I may try again in the future, but for now this is not a book for me. A generous 2 out of 5 stars.

Unputdownable......I love this thriller/mystery set in Philly.

This book was definitely not what I expected. I really enjoyed it though! It's dark, twisty, and suspenseful. I would absolutely recommend it!

This book was totally engrossing; I couldn't put it down once I really started. Sometimes you just need to read a book that shows that everyone is a little damaged, but that things chug along, even if it hurts. I am not trans, nor do I know anyone personally that is, so I can't really speak on how well the representation is from experience, but I am glad that much of the way the characters reacted to it was very positive. I'm always looking to read more diversely when it is respectful, and I believe this was. ****Spoilers past this point**** As a note, kinda didn't dig the fact that the bad guy seemed to be perceived to be even worse because he was a veterinarian that euthanizes animals. I work at an animal shelter that has to euthanize and we are so not bad people because of it. However, I totally laughed my ass off that he screwed up every "hit" he was hired for.

The Long Black Veil takes us into the lives of six "friends". Some would call them misfits. With the feel of the late 60's to the early 70's, this group of friends was like a pack of misfits. On a dark night, the group of friends stumbles into Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary. Old, abandoned, creepy prison they become locked inside. The night ends in tragedy and mystery. What happened to Wailer, an heiress and the recent bride to Jon Casey? Now 20 years later, the skeletal remains are found. The friends, that drifted apart after that dreadful night, begin to unravel. Casey is charged with his wife's death. Devastated by her death Casey still misses her. Judith Carrigan is not the same person she was that fretful night. Can Judith return to save her dear friend Casey? will she lose everything she struggled to become? As the tale takes us back and forth between the then and the now, one has to pay careful attention to the details or become confused in the shuffle. Overall, I liked the book, it was one that every time I put it down to go do something I quickly returned to see how the author would take care of the twist and turns along the way. Not really one I would call a psychological thriller but more of the mystery and suspense realm. I would read other works by the author but I wouldn't call this the triumphant return but more like a squek.

I was not all that impressed with this book. I found it confusing at times with the constant point of view changes. I also wish we could have had more of a backstory to Maisie and her brother, Ben. There seemed to be a lot of things left unsaid with their story and I think it would have been interesting to find out what it was. Sadly, I don't think I will be recommending this book to others.

I found this book very difficult to connect to because of all the flashbacks. It showed that one incident can change your life forever and the aftermath. The loyalty shown by the six friends was admirable in spite of their different lives. The character that lived with an identity issue chose to deal with it in a strange way, not trusting people who were loyal and loving. A true lesson in how the choices we make affect not only ourselves but people with whom we interact. I'm not sure I would recommend this book but it did deal with real world issues which all of us have to acknowledge and form opinions about.

Long Black Veil was an interesting story about six young people, an incident that shapes who they become, and the lengths they are willing to go to protect themselves. At times this story had the makings of a good thriller but with elements of a literary novel. The story pulls the reader in with anticipation of finding out what happened in the prison, only to be solved so abruptly. I would have loved to see this develop more. Judith is an extremely likeable character, helping the reader connect on a more personal level. The story was overall engaging.

After a tight-knit group of friends experience a bizarre tragedy at the beginning of their promising adulthoods they separate, unable to shake that life-changing evening. When evidence is found 40 years later that makes the tragedy a murder the group finds themselves reunited on the other side of their careers and personal lives to discover what happened that strange night. With a handful of deeply interesting characters, Judith being the most fleshed out and provoking, this novel has a great deal of potential. However, it seems unable to settle on a storyline. Half the novel is the struggle Judith has with her identity and place in the world. The other half is an almost farcical murder mystery. I found myself wishing the story had gone one way or the other. At times, again, especially where Judith is involved, the tale is moving and relevant and, for my part, I'd have happily read a book just about her without the mysterious circumstances. Wonderful to read fiction with a transgender character.

This is a book that I had been waiting to read and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed this book though it was not what I expected at all. The character Judith is fascinating during both the back story and the current times along with the other female characters. I was expecting a very creepy mystery story and while there are some very creepy parts at the prison I felt that this book was more about the relationships between the main characters. I do wish there had been more about Maisie and her brother because I thought they were a very interesting pair. I have to say there were some twists in the story that I did not expect at all. I will be definitely recommending this book to others.

I’m always intrigued by stories where we see how a seemingly well adjusted, successful, happy person actually started their life on the complete opposite end of that spectrum. I find human psychology fascinating in that some will use difficult or tragic foundations as fuel o demand more from life where others become haunted victims bent on never metaphorically escaping their past. I felt the author handled transitions between time, settings and characters well so you get a truly complex and seamless story. Besides who wouldn’t love an opening where the story begins in an ostensibly abandoned and unnerving prison that will alter the lives of these characters forever? I liked what she did with the characters and felt she handled her transgendered character’s conflict with identity respectfully and accurately. Although it very much played into the plot line of the story it wasn’t used as a spectacle but more as a mirror to the character’s humanity and struggles that are often overlooked in society’s quest for judgement. Don’t let the murder mystery part fool you, this is very much a character driven story with Judith being the one to shine the most although all of the characters are given great frameworks in which to thrive and push the story forward. Along with the mysterious elements there is plenty of melodrama to keep you on your toes with just enough surprising twists thrown in to avoid becoming a cliché. The pace remains steady as Boylan uses her characters as stand-ins to examine the human condition when it’s thrust into an untenable situation of their own making. Bad choices produced bad consequences yet they seem surprised by this; pretty typical of modern society actually. Ultimately this is a story of secrets; the power they hold, the wounds they create and the healing that will only come from forcing the truth into the light. In that respect, Boylan set off a firework of great writing.

In 1980, six friends entered the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary along with a teacher and the young brother of one of the friends. After finding themselves locked in, one is able to climb out and go for help. By the time he returns, one of them is missing. Over thirty years later, human remains are found in a recess of the prison and the missing person case is reopened as a murder investigation. Evidence points to one person, but the only one that can vouch for him faked his death years earlier. Judith was one of those friends. Now she is living in Maine with her husband and step-son. She has the ability to save her friend, but that would mean revealing her past life as Quentin before rolling her car off a cliff. Boylan looks at love and loyalty and discovering what is truly important. The beginning of the book was a little slow, but it is easy to get caught up with these characters as you learn what really happened in 1980 and how it affected their lives. I received this book from First to Read in exchange for a review.

Overall, I liked this book, and I thought it addressed some touchy topics in a courageous way. Without giving too much away, one of the characters in this book is transsexual, and that character's journey over the course of a life is what I found to be most interesting here. That character was very complex and real, and I found myself completely immersed in that story. The main story of the novel, however, is about an experience that happens to six friends during young adulthood. That experience hangs over their heads for the rest of their lives. I was less interested in that part of the story, though I can tell that it was meant to be the main story. This novel is a strange combination of a suspenseful thriller and a character–driven literary novel. I thought it was more successful as the latter, and the thriller aspects didn't hold my attention that much. Again, overall, I enjoyed my reading experience here, though this novel doesn't quite know what it wants to be.

There were parts of this book that were great. Judith's story was compelling and the narration about it was well-written and thoughtful. The sections about the detective's work were good, too. I always like to read books set in Philadelphia and the author was very accurate in describing locations. For example, Hanging Rock is a real location very close to my home. Other things about the book were not so great. With the exception of Judith, none of the characters involved in the incident in the Eastern State Penitentiary seemed to have matured beyond high school. I found it hard to believe that Casey, a graduate of Wesleyan, was so inarticulate. It was disconcerting that Maisie's last name is the same as a prominent family in the Philadelphia area who fund a lot of charitable projects. The dialogue in the beginning of the book was clunky, and I was getting really tired of Wailer after the first few pages.

This story focuses on six college students and how their lives were changed by one event. I expected it to be a thriller but it realy wasn't though there were some thrilling parts. Unfortunately I found most of the characters unsympathetic and really stuck in the past. A lot of loose ends were puled together at the end not always in a manner that made a lot of sense, The technique of jumping back and fortth between the present and the past help flesh out the story but at times was annoying. I am sure a lot of people wil love this book but it was not one of my favorites.

If you go into this book thinking it's going to be a big thriller, you will not be so happy. While this novel does have its thrilling moments, it is better classified as a character study on how a tragic event can change one's perspective on life and oneself. There are 2 aspects of this story that intertwine and finally connect at the end: the events that transpired that fateful night at the prison, and Judith's journey to become the woman she is now. I really liked this story because it was just such an interesting way to combine a mystery with a character-driven story. The writing style was a bit difficult to get into; at times, it felt disjointed and hard to follow. However, the overall story was intriguing and kept me going. I liked the journey that this story took me on, and I liked putting the pieces of the puzzle together. For all the buildup that led to the final moments, I found that the actual motive for the murder and the cover-up was a bit disappointing, as was the final ending where justice was supposedly served. As a character study novel, this was a fantastic story that explored the different ways that a tragedy can change a person. If you are looking for a strong mystery or thriller, however, then this isn't the one for you. Since I really enjoyed reading this novel, I am looking forward to reading more novels by this author!

From the first sentence to the last,I was caught in the clutches of this story.The author takes the reader on a life journey where the main characters become not only physically trapped at one point, but remain emotionally trapped into their adult lives. There is good character description and insight into how we become imprisoned in ourselves, locked behind the lies we tell to the world, the false persona portrayed,looking out at the life we really want and the persons we really want to be. A life that tells the truth of who we really are. This is a worthwhile read. I intend to read more by this author and am so pleased to have read this preview copy of the book.

As I was reading this book, I wasn't impressed. 6 friends are involved in an incident, an "accident" that turns them all into unhappy, disappointing, miserable people who have made bad choices throughout their lives. Even after 30 years they are stumbling through their loveless and unloved lives and no longer friends. When the accident turns out to be something more and the truth emerges about who did what and who knew what the former friends try to rectify their lives and the choices they made. Really, I wanted to smack them; none of them were likeable or sympathetic. I wasn't even interested in the mystery of it all. However, I'm glad I stuck it out until the end. It felt hopeful; justice was served, the friends were starting to put their lives together, the future looked much better. The writing is beautiful. Worth the read until the end

I found this book to be more of a character study and less of a mystery. While there is certainly a mystery element, some elements of suspense and thrilling moments, I found the "mystery" side less fulfilling and more as a side story to the character study that is explored on Judith's side of things. The contrast between the two plot lines is so stark that they could have been two different novels entirely. The tragedy that takes place within the prison is the catalyst for the character study of Judith and once her side of the story begins, the "mystery" element takes a back seat for the remainder of the novel. The writing is good, but not spectacular. I could follow the back-and-forth between the different characters well enough, but I can see how it would be difficult for readers who would want smoother transitions between the character chapters. This is especially true for when Judith is finally introduced - I had to re-read the passage two or three times before I understood what was happening. The resolution of the mystery is weak and is treated very poorly, as if, in the end, it didn't really matter, but it had to be finished because it was the main discussion point in the book summary. Judith is easily the most developed, three-dimensional character, but the other characters suffer from lack of equal character development time, leaving readers wondering about the time left unmentioned and the motivations of the other characters in general. Statements are made about the individual friends by other characters as if they are fact, not displayed by the character himself/herself when he/she is being personally examined. Readers are left only to take the character's word for it as there's no other proof to confirm that he/she said. The resolution to the novel is very fairytale-ish and the personal crisis that Judith goes through at the midway point of the novel is wrapped up almost too well and too quickly for my taste. Maybe if the story had been a character study from the start, I wouldn't have had this impression, but the mystery element had to be resolved so no more time could be spent on the personal crisis. The fate of some characters is also never resolved because they're never brought up again. For minor characters, this isn't a big deal, but two of the major characters have unresolved plot threads that aren't addressed. Overall, the book was interesting and it was a definite page-turner, but I think the treatment of the mystery element and some of the characters could have been improved.

In 1980, a group of college friends (and the 10 year old brother of one) makes a foray into Eastern State Penitentiary, an abandoned and falling apart structure. Once they are in, they discover that someone has chained the door shut behind them. This isn’t quite the way they wanted to continue celebrating the event of the day before: the marriage of two of their number. It turns even worse when the recent bride disappears… and doesn’t get found, not for a long time. Thirty five years later, a skeleton is found in the old prison, stuffed into a tunnel. This re-opens the police case; it’s now obvious it was a murder. Most of the group have alibis, but one, the widower, the one with the most obvious motive (her money), has no one to vouch for his whereabouts at the time of her death. One person cannot be questioned, having driven his car off an ocean cliff years ago. Meanwhile, in a separate narrative, a woman named Judith has been keeping a secret from everyone: her friends, her son, her husband. It’s a big secret, and she fears losing everyone if it comes out. She’s the one person who can save the Casey, the widower, but can she make herself take that huge risk? While we have a murder mystery for a framework, the story is really character driven. Judith is the one who comes most alive, but most of the others are well drawn and complex. I ended up loving a lot of the story, as the secrets drop away one by one.

I had a mixed experience with this book. It's an intriguing story that kept me turning the pages; I really wanted to know what had happened, and I liked the back-and-forth between past and present. However, I found many of the characters oddly written and hard to understand, and Wailer's "accent" was just awful! Overall,a good story let down slightly by weak characterization.

This is probably one of the better books I’ve read recently. There were certainly some very confusing parts of the story, in which either the storyline was too convoluted for me to follow or I couldn’t figure out who was talking, but overall Long Black Veil was definitely a solid book. Boylan’s writing was good; not excellent by any means, but good. Most of the phrases that I felt read oddly sort of added to the charm, and most of the facts that seemed unclearly described were made up for by the fast-paced plot. If I didn’t get anything the first time, it was easy to catch up later in the novel. I would say that the highlight of this book is how well it handles the lives of the characters, both when they were in college and in the present day. Long Black Veil is a book that I do highly recommend.

I received this book as an ARC from First To Read (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. There were a few surprises that I won't reveal here. But this book is about one incident that changes the lives of six college friends forever – how each of them carries that night with them as the years move forward and the choices they make as a result of it. And leaves one of them having to decide if she is willing to reveal her deepest secret and knowingly jeopardize the life she has built and potentially lose everything – all to save a friend.

I did enjoy this book. Didn't like the random back and forth. Wish we could have divulged more into the night at the prison. To me there was a lot left unsaid. The ending I wish had more as well. It was good but again I just wish there was more to certain story lines and some of the characters.

This book almost got confusing with the back and forth. In the beginning, I almost just put it down. I did read to the end and overall it is a good novel. The moral of the story is that we have to live with our choices, whatever they may be. We all long to be loved and even as adults, we can doubt ourselves and our choices. Thanks first to read!

I was really looking forward to reading this book since it is set in my hometown and one of the main "characters", Eastern State, is a landmark that I am familiar with. There is definitely mystery and intrigue with this book. At times there was too much jumping from one plot point to another and switching of the perspective (from first to third party) that at times I was confused as to which character/plot point we were. Overall, I did enjoy the story and I was able to get through the book fairly quickly.

I enjoyed thos book so much. It starts with a mystery, as a group of college friends in 1980 end up locked in Easter State Penitentiary. One of them goes missing. The specifics of that, and how it affects each of them, become the central story. At the same time, we get to explore the "after" through the eyes of Judith Carrigan. A wife and mother and journalist, she's also a trans woman who has kept her past from her family. This book is an incredible meditation on what it means to be yourself, to become yourself, to live your true life. There are sadly not enough stories where trans people play leading roles that don't exclusively focus on their transition. This book shines a light on what, for many people, must stay hidden. I enjoyed it so much.

As we get older, we tend to change. For some this change may be very drastic, yet for others it might not happen at all. Jennifer Finney Boylan's Long Black Veil demonstrates how one horrific night can affect the trajectory the rest of your life takes. Judith Carrigan has lived an enjoyable life since arriving in Maine decades ago, but her life before traveling north was troublesome and anxiety-inducing. In Judith's past is the disappearance and presumed death of her college friend Wailer while her group of friends were trapped within the walls of the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. As a key witness to corroborate Wailer's husband Casey's innocence, Judith needs to come to terms with her identity and what she's willing to sacrifice to defend the truth. Having recently visited Eastern State Penitentiary in the fall of 2016, I found this aspect to the story rather interesting and well-described, with the remainder of Philly and the Main Line settings well-written as the familiar backdrops they are to me. The many characters were sketched out quite well; however, they didn't have much depth as there wasn't the time or space to fully do so and also focus on the suspense aspect to the plot, which was enjoyable, as well as the variety of social topics it addressed, which was interesting. I found it a bit strange that there were differences in the narrative perspective offered - Judith was given a first person perspective while all the others in the group were given third person omniscient perspective. While I understand that this story is Judith's and much of the focus was on her experiences, it wouldn't have been as complete without the perspectives of the others and having the varying perspectives without much of a clear transition was jarring. Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I wasn't really sure what to expect with a title by this name, however the last thing I expected was to be totally enthralled. There was a definite mystery element that kept me guessing as to who was responsible for the prison death. Each character was so tremendously powerful and had such a backstory it was hard to narrow down. My favorite character ended up being the transvestite. I had never really known much about this type of person and felt such sorrow when I saw what turmoil it creates.

I picked this up yesterday morning and could not put it down until I was done. What an amazing, relevant and important read this was. I found it to be reminiscent of The Secret History, which I read last year and loved, so if you're a Donna Tartt fan then you should definitely check it out. But really, I would recommend it to anyone interested in a real, raw look at something very big in our world today (you'll have to read the book to see what I mean), with a touch of mystery, suspense and humor.

This story was a major page turner. I kept looking forward to the time I would able to read it after finishing work. This is mostly a story about becoming who you truly are.


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