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Devil in the Hole by Charles Salzberg

Devil in the Hole

by Charles Salzberg

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Take a horrific family mass murder from the 70's and propel into the present day time into the form of a novel. Salzburg has done this.. made an old murder relateable for those not old enought to remember when the killings took place. John List was a father who meticulously planned the murder of his wife, mother and kids about 40 years ago in NJ. He was finally found and prosecuted not that long ago!

The author fictionalized it and created Devil In the Hole...doing an exceptional job. Not a straightforward plodding murder book where you know the outcome before the end. He put a different spin on it by creating a cast of characters who narrate the book. Six degrees of separation and all that... The neighbor, the minister, the girlfriend, the cop, the killer etc etc... And what fascinated me was the Salzberg had the ability to give each a distinct personality and voice to add dimension to the book!
Well worth the time to read. two thumbs up, more if i had them...
  linda.marsheells | Aug 17, 2014 |
Devil in the Hole is a novel based on fact about a man who kills his whole family and disappears. I remember seeing a show a few years ago about this case so when I had a chance to read the book I jumped at the chance. Written in the perspective of a jounalist who is asking questions, or it seemed that way to me, each chapter is in the voice of the neighbor who reported his concerns, the detectives who investigate, the killer and anyone that had known contact with him. A very engrossing and page turning read of a real crime. I think that by the end of the book the reader is given an understanding as to what happened in the life of a man and why he would commit such an atrocity against his own family. I love true crime stories and I enjoyed this one immensely.

I received a copy for review and was not monetarily compensated for my review. ( )
  celticlady53 | Oct 13, 2013 |
Crime thriller fans, boy do I have a riveting book for you!

In Devil In The Hole, author Charles Salzberg weaves a fascinating fictionalized tale based on the 1971 NJ true crime murder case of John List, who mass murdered his family in their posh family home, then fled the scene and eluded capture for eighteen years until he was highlighted on the TV show, America's Most Wanted.

Devil In The Hole is a fast paced page turner that follows the murder case of John Hartman, who cold-bloodedly planned and carried out the mass murder of his family in their affluent Sedgewick, Connecticut home, then disappears and eludes capture for three years. Author Charles Salzberg draws the reader into this riveting story with a convincing recounting of the murder, escape and hunt for the murderer told in an alternating first person narrative that includes John Hartman and well over a dozen other people whose lives have been impacted by his heinous crime. Each character's voice comes alive as they recount the frustrating hunt for the seemingly mild mannered murderer, who not only escaped the murder scene but also from the torment of his own troubled mind. Through a richly descriptive interweaving of accounts by the various characters, the reader delves into the complexity of the murderer, the crime and the impact that it had on the close knit Connecticut community, and those who became obsessed and doggedly searched for John Hartman.

Devil In The Hole is a haunting novel that will keep the reader in suspense as the dark portrait of a seemingly mild-mannered man's life descent into madness and murder unfolds, leaving a chilling rippling effect on people connected to this man and his heinous crime. As a born and bred Jersey girl, I remember the 1971 NJ mass murder case that John List committed on his unsuspecting family. I have also enjoyed the made for TV movie featured on Lifetime about the List case, so when I read the book description for Devil In The Hole, I knew I had to read this book, and I wasn't left disappointed. The author connects the murder and the ensuing manhunt with intriguing first person narratives that keeps the reader captivated and guessing what would happen next, it is a story that you won't be able to put down.

Devil In The Hole is one of the best psychological crime thrillers that I have read, it is a powerful story that is thought provoking and expertly told by an author who convincingly fictionalizes a true life crime into one hell of a riveting tale that is a must read!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/09/devil-in-hole-by-charles-salzb... ( )
  JerseyGirlBookReview | Sep 20, 2013 |
This is a clever book based on a terrible tragedy that really happened in New Jersey in 1971. I remember, and you might too, when John List almost got away with murdering his wife, three teenage children, his mother-in-law, and even their dog. He disappeared long before the bodies were discovered and the law didn't catch up with him for 18 years, until after the case was featured on "America's Most Wanted."

Salzberg has turned this awful crime into a novel set in Connecticut. He tells the story through many characters, each with his own chapter or chapters. This sounds confusing and a little ridiculous, but it is actually very effective. First we hear from a neighbor across the street who gets suspicious when all the lights are on in the huge house 24 hours a day and he doesn't see anyone coming or going. The family is strange and not friendly, but this finally gets to the neighbor and he calls the police. They find the bodies, but the husband/father is gone, as is the car, and the bodies are so badly decomposed, it has obviously been a couple of weeks since they were killed.

We then get the perspective of one of the cops who entered the house, then the other. The neighbor has his say again, then the chief of police, etc. The story advances through chapters supposedly written in the first person by people who are somehow involved with the case or the missing murderer. The characters seem real; almost as if you are listening to various types of people sitting with you telling their brush with a killer.

In retrospect, I think this way of telling the story is brilliant. I can't imagine any other method that would work as well. There are nearly two dozen characters and as we hear from them, we begin to form an idea of what was in the killer's mind when he did this unthinkable crime. We can't be totally certain of that, nor can we know John List's reasoning when he actually killed his family, but this gives us some inkling of the workings of a murderer's rationale for his crime.

Highly recommended
Source: author through Partners in Crime Book Tours ( )
  bjmitch | Sep 4, 2013 |
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In the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who's got a three-week jump on the police. Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman's mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he's headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.… (more)

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