Books: Conviction


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.

Published March 28, 2017.
Order below in hardcover, e-book and audio formats.

Praise for Conviction

“A murder mystery for our tumultuous times...Dahl writes deftly about race, religion, and politics in NYC, both then and now.”

New York Magazine

“Outstanding...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

“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

“Dahl’s previous [Rebekah] Roberts novels, “Invisible City” and “Run You Down,“ are as much powerful indictments of the damage wrought by contemporary social issues as they are cannily crafted mysteries, and “Conviction“ is no different. Dahl deftly weaves two timeframes and two stories — the crime and its belated reinvestigation — into a suspenseful and compulsive page-turner ...Roberts’s dogged, heart-and-mind-centered pursuit of truth, fairness, and justice shines like a beacon in the dark, and Dahl renders this with grace and substance.”

Boston Globe

“Conviction is a compelling, cleverly named chronicle in which Rebekah holds herself to an extraordinarily high standard of ethical behavior. She takes on community and religious leaders, the NYPD, a very popular female prosecutor, and her own mother to find justice for DeShawn Perkins. Dahl, too, holds herself to an exacting standard in constructing a carefully wrought narrative. The inclusion of historical malfeasance, including the Central Park Five, lends veracity to a tale that has at its heart the very meaning of power and poverty, justice, family, and, best of all, hope. Timely and perfect for twenty- and thirtysomething fans of Megan Abbott and Lisa Lutz.”

Booklist Starred review

“Dahl’s crime reporting background pays off, combining just the right amount of detail with a fast-moving pace and a fascinating glimpse into an insular world...A surefire winner for any mystery or suspense fan.”

Library Journal Starred review


Associated Press

“...Conviction is the third in Dahl’s series centered around young reporter Roberts but it’s a great leap forward in style, pacing, characterization, and plot. The point of view shifts, as does the time frame from when the murders were committed to the present. Dahl’s confidence in writing about the Hasidim and other Jewish sects in Brooklyn has gotten notably stronger: she describes their lives with authority and compassion, and her Jewish characters are also more complex. Conviction boasts a long list of complex and interesting characters of all walks of life...Dahl has written the novel about the Crown Heights conflict, and in these times when it takes so little to turn a neighborhood conflict into something bigger, it’s worth studying how she thinks it might have been averted.”

— LitHub

“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 Abbot

"A tightly constructed thriller with a tender heart."

— The Sunday Times Crime Club