Long Black Veil

After celebrating a wedding in August 1980, six college friends decide to explore the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia's famed and notoriously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary. When the group becomes trapped inside the macabre former prison, one friend disappears and is never seen again.

With this ominous opening, Jennifer Finney Boylan (She's Not There) brilliantly reveals each character's inner life, motivations and the secrets imprisoning them since that fateful summer day. Told through alternating narratives that segue smoothly between 1980 and 2015, and accurately capturing Philadelphia's gritty essence from a bygone time, Long Black Veil focuses on Quentin Pheaney, whose conflicts cause him to abandon everything and everyone he knows for a chance to live authentically: "But surely the idea that one might slip away unseen and take up another life is nearly universal. Is there anything more fundamentally human than the desire to live in another world, as someone other than our own earthbound selves?"

Decades after the group's horrific experience within the real-life penitentiary's 30-foot stone walls (symbolic in various ways), a grisly discovery combined with dogged detective work threatens to uncover each person's hidden truth. "You carry the past with you. Even if there's a before, and an after, in your life. It's still the same life. The trick is to build a bridge between that and what comes later."

A darkly suspenseful, fast-paced and nuanced character-driven novel with gothic undertones, Long Black Veil explores gender and identity, the loyalty of friends and family, and the price demanded by the present for the long-held secrets of the past. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at melissafirman.com

Powered by: Xtenit