REVIEW: A Good Month For Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad by Del Quentin Wilber

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Read this book for: non-fiction, true crime, gritty detective stories, multiple storylines, police procedural, US-based story

Quick Review: Dark, gritty and incredibly real, this true-crime novel resists the urge to glamourize the detective’s life and presents an intense and compelling picture of murder investigations.

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After gaining unparalleled access to the homicide unit in Prince George’s County, which borders the nation’s capital, bestselling author Del Quentin Wilber begins shadowing the talented, often quirky detectives who get the call when a body falls. After a quiet couple of months, all hell breaks loose: suddenly every detective in the squad is scrambling to solve one shooting and stabbing after another. Meanwhile, the entire unit is obsessed with a stone-cold ‘red ball’, a high-profile case involving a seventeen-year-old honour student attacked by a gunman who kicked down the door to her house and shot her in her bed. This is the inside story of how a team of detectives carry out their almost impossible job. Murder is the police investigator’s ultimate crucible: to solve a killing, a detective must speak for the dead. More than any recent book, A GOOD MONTH FOR MURDER shows what it takes to succeed when the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher.

A GOOD MONTH FOR MURDER: THE INSIDE STORY OF A HOMICIDE SQUAD is Del Quentin Wilber’s deep-delving and highly detailed book following a department of homicide investigators in Prince George’s County, just outside of Washington, D.C., through a particularly busy month. It allows an almost unparalleled look into the day-to-day of murder investigations.

Rather that the typical detective novel which follows one investigator as they hunt down a specific case or two, Wilber takes a unique approach in following an entire department – five separate squads of five detectives each – of homicide investigators through a particularly busy month of new murder investigations. Rather than following each of the strands through to the end, Wilber also locks each of the events in chronological order, giving a real sense of the sheer overwhelming amount of information that the detectives have to deal with. It also puts you in the shoes of the investigative team, trying to assimilate all of the information that you are dealt into a coherent narrative to understand what happened to all of these people.

Wilber’s writing style also helps to bring you into the world of the homicide detectives. From their nonchalance at crime scenes to the cases that break through their emotional walls, the occasional sense of black humour to taking naps on their desks or in their cars, you get a real sense of the gruelling nature of investigative work and how various individuals cope with it. Wilber also does a nice job capturing the pressures from bosses, peers and public and some of the lengths detectives will go to in order to live up to them.

All the little day-to-day details that are infused in the investigations add to the gritty and very believable of this novel. You can fully understand just how difficult this job is, and the challenge that each of the detectives face every day.

If you have any interest in police procedure and homicide investigations, A GOOD MONTH FOR MURDER is absolutely a must-read. Wilber does an incredible job of painting a powerful picture of the life of a homicide detective so vivid you feel you’ve experienced it yourself.A Good Month For Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad by Del Quentin Wilber

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