Bill Pronzini's standalone, The Violated, is pitch-perfect. The crime story is told from multiple viewpoints, but the story flows easily from one voice to the next. Sometimes, that could be confusing, difficult to follow, and it might throw off a reader. Not with this story. It's the perfect way to demonstrate how crime destroys a community, person by person.
When two young boys find a body in Echo Park in Santa Rita, California, many of the townspeople view it as the end of a crime spree. Martin Torrey was a registered sex offender, and a suspect in the violent rape of four women in town. Police Chief Griffin Kells and Detective Robert Ortiz have been working the case for months, with no evidence to arrest Torrey. Now, someone has taken justice into their own hands and killed the man suspected by the entire community. Ortiz had suspected Torrey from the very beginning. Kells had his doubts.
Now, Kells and Ortiz have a murder investigation. Although they face pressure from the mayor and others in town to call Torrey the rapist, and close the case, they're determined to find the correct answer, using their limited resources. And, most people in Santa Rita hope the murder solved the rape cases. Even so, the community is angry and uneasy. The two police officers, the mayor, the owner of the newspaper, the rapist's victims, the dead man's wife and her sister all have opportunities to tell their stories. But, the tragedies haven't ended in Santa Rita.
The Violated is a powerful novel revealing the ripples that spread from crime. How many lives are affected? How many people are destroyed? Pronzini allows the people of Santa Rita to share their perspectives, and the number of ways they've been hurt.
Mystery Writers of America named Bill Pronzini a Grand Master. The Violated is just one more reason why he deserves it.
The Violated by Bill Pronzini. Bloomsbury. 2017. ISBN 9781632866608 (hardcover), 252p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.