In the summer of 1992, a year after riots exploded between black and Jewish neighbors in Crown Heights, a black family is brutally murdered in their Brooklyn home. A teenager is quickly convicted, and the justice system moves on.
Twenty-two years later, journalist Rebekah Roberts gets a letter: I didn’t do it. Frustrated with her work at the city’s sleaziest tabloid, Rebekah starts to dig. But witnesses are missing, memories faded, and almost no one wants to talk about that grim, violent time in New York City—not even Saul Katz, a former cop and her source in Brooklyn’s insular Hasidic community.
So she goes it alone. And as she gets closer to the truth of that night, Rebekah finds herself in the path of a killer with two decades of secrets to protect.
From the author of the Edgar-nominated Invisible City comes another timely thriller that illuminates society’s darkest corners. Told in part through the eyes of a jittery eyewitness and the massacre’s sole survivor, Julia Dahl’s Conviction examines the power—and cost—of community, loyalty, and denial.
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Praise for Conviction
“Juggling time frames more than 20 years apart, Dahl’s lean, hard narrative unravels a sad, squalid, and all-too-timely tale of deception in high and low places, deeply embedded racial animosities, and judicial mischief plausible enough to make readers wonder anew how many real-life DeShawns are in similar circumstances. Dahl shows great command over the darker, creepier elements of her genre and will keep you reading by her deft yet unobtrusive deployment of plot twists—and there are many of these going off like small explosives along the way.
The novel’s authenticity is enhanced by Dahl’s painfully spot-on grievances about the deteriorating newspaper industry and her cogent observations about Brooklyn in both its post-millennium growth and its past lives—which somehow never seem all that far in the past.” — Kirkus
“In Dahl’s outstanding third novel featuring Brooklyn freelance reporter Rebekah Roberts (after 2015’s Run You Down), Rebekah agrees to help DeShawn Perkins, who claims he’s innocent of the crime that sent him to prison at age 16—murdering his foster parents and foster sister in 1992. DeShawn claims that a cop, who unquestioningly accepted a crack addict’s ID of him, coerced his confession. The narrative alternates between the original murder investigation in Crown Heights, where riots pitted Orthodox Jews and black residents against each other, and Rebekah’s present-day sleuthing in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood. Many of the case’s original players are still out there, including Rebekah’s formerly Orthodox ex-cop friend, Saul Katz; the woman in line to be the next Brooklyn DA; and the highly dubious eyewitness, all of whom have something to fear from Rebekah’s probing. Dahl excels at revealing the inner workings of enigmatic subcultures while maintaining peak suspense. She also provides a terrific “whoa, I didn’t see that coming” moment.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Conviction is New York City crime at its very best: gritty, realistic, culturally complex and sometimes really terrifying, but ultimately full of hope, with a heroine you can’t help but root for. Brava, Julia Dahl—I couldn’t put the damn thing down.” — Lisa Lutz
“Julia Dahl’s Conviction is a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel. With tender-tough reporter Rebekah Roberts at the story’s center, it jolts the heart, while also raising bigger, troubling questions—about criminal confessions, urban fear, and the many, many ways our moral and ethical convictions can both guide us and mislead us, and ultimately save us.” —Megan Abbott