It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

Acts of Violence – Ryan David Jahn

AOVRDJIn 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside her home in New York City.  It was thought that up to 38 people witnessed her attack, but did nothing to help, leading to what became known as the "Bystander Effect".  Debut author Ryan David Jahn was inspired by the case and in Acts of Violence brings us the fictional story of the night that Katrina Marino suffered the same fate.

This is a remarkable novel on more than one level.  First, its 280 pages of narrative span only a couple of hours during one night.  Secondly, it is dark, thoroughly compelling and emotionally engaging as it explores the lives of all those whose only true link is to be involved in what happened that night. "If only" comes to mind so many times when reading, as well as a feeling of violence in the reader: you really want to shake some bystanders away from what enthrals them into action for the victim.  Thirdly, it provides a realistic depiction of time and place, including all its prejudices as barriers were being broken down.

Acts of Violence is effectively a series of vignettes, moving from Katrina's heartbreaking experiences to those of the otherwise engaged witnesses and back again, to the police and ambulance crew who are eventually called to the scene, sadly all too late, and to the perpetrator of the crime.

Acts of Violence is a shocking and powerful literary thriller and without doubt, the most outstanding novel I have read this year.  I am sure we will be reading much more from Ryan David Jahn in the future.  Macmillan New Writing have found a great talent with this author.  Acts of Violence is published on 6 November in the UK (2 December in the USA and 1 February, 2010 in Canada).  Don't miss it!


8 comments on “Acts of Violence – Ryan David Jahn

  1. Margot Kinberg
    October 19, 2009

    Acts of Violence sounds quite compelling. I haven’t read it, but the point of view changes probably add a great deal to the narrative, as it’s only through the eyes of the characters that we can best understand why they would leave Katrina Marino to her fate and not step in to help. Interesting post – thanks!

  2. cfr
    October 19, 2009

    Thanks, Margot. I found this book superb. I was already reading something else when it arrived. I picked it up so see if I might like it and then found myself on page 50. All read in the course of one day in the end leaving me very impressed!

  3. Maxine
    October 19, 2009

    Sounds intriguing. I’ve been offered a review copy of this book, but it sounds as if it needs one to be in a strong mood to read it. Great review, as ever.

  4. cfr
    October 19, 2009

    Thanks, Maxine. I’d certainly accept the book and you’ll fly through it. It does require strength in parts, but the anger generated in others seems to provide it.

  5. Ali
    October 26, 2009

    Hi CFR, Roger Ellory was raving about it to me, and have a copy and your review has got me interested!

  6. David H
    November 9, 2009

    I was just reading this book, and would broadly agree with you. I don’t think the structure works entirely — there are places where the issues and back-stories could have done with being explored in more depth — but it’s a good read for all that.

  7. crimeficreader
    November 9, 2009

    David, thanks for your comment. I was reading your post on the same book earlier. I can see where you’re coming from, but the balance worked for me as a snapshot of the three hours in that night. An outstanding debut, I thought. Rarely do you see such assurance and confidence in a first novel.

  8. David H
    November 9, 2009

    Agreed on the ‘assurance and confidence’ — and it’s well-placed confidence at that. Jahn is a very fluent writer.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on October 19, 2009 by in Books.