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The Violated


The Violated

Santa Rita, California, has experienced a rash of rapes in the past few months. And Martin Torrey was the top suspect in the four rapes to date, but the District Attorney didn’t have enough evidence to bring him to trial. Now Torrey is dead, murdered by the looks of it. It appears that someone decided to take matters into his own hands since the authorities didn’t seem able to get the monster off the streets. Far from making the cops’ job easier, though, it only complicates it.

Police Chief Griffin Kells has been working overtime in order to find sufficient proof that would put Torrey away. The man’s death will make it more difficult than ever because, now, on top of the rapes, the police have a murder to solve. And Santa Rita mayor Hugh Delahunt seems to be rooting against Kells. While he should be hoping for a quick end to the case, he’s looking for any excuse to oust his chief of police. In fact, he has long wanted to replace Kells with his own handpicked guy, an officer who nearly everyone else in the department will tell you isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but is Delahunt’s puppet. Luckily, local newspaper owner and reporter Ted Lowenstein comes down strongly on the side of Chief Kells and heavily against the town’s mayor and his cronies. Since the police chief doesn’t need extra pushback on top of his already-daunting load, that helps to balance things out, at least a little bit.

"THE VIOLATED is a smartly written thriller that probes emotions experienced by victims and all those touched by the crimes against them."

Naturally, the citizens of Santa Rita find it hard to mourn the loss of a man who was accused of such horrendous crimes, but think of his widow. She believes in her husband’s innocence, and her sister says she does, too. Her brother-in-law may have a different opinion, though, one that mirrors that of pretty much everyone else in town. Actually, a big part of what kept the DA from prosecuting Torrey was the victims’ own accounts. First off, none of them saw their attacker. Nothing about him stood out; he was simply described as average. And none of them could say definitively that Torrey even sounded like the man who raped them. He could be; that was the closest they would get to fingering him. And the rape kits? Well, all but one of them are still waiting to be processed. Backlog and all. In truth, no one really expected they would change anything anyway. There was a strong consensus that the DA would waffle when it came to prosecuting. Meanwhile, the rest of Santa Rita knew who had attacked all those women. Really, whoever killed Torrey, well, kind of did everyone a favor. Didn’t he? The whole town knew he was guilty. Wasn’t he?

The evidence comes out through the alternating viewpoints of the major characters. Each chapter is told by a different person, allowing the reader inside the head of the chief, the mayor, the victims, their families, the widow. And the kicker is that no one will know “whodunit” until the very end.

THE VIOLATED is a smartly written thriller that probes emotions experienced by victims and all those touched by the crimes against them. No one, not even the cops --- who see crime daily --- comes away unscathed. In his newest fast-paced mystery, Bill Pronzini tries to help readers take a step toward a better understanding of and a higher empathy for people recovering from violence. Well done, sir. Very well done.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on March 10, 2017

The Violated
by Bill Pronzini

  • Publication Date: March 7, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • ISBN-10: 1632866609
  • ISBN-13: 9781632866608