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The Joy of Killing

List Price: $15.95

June 14, 2016 | Paperback | 5.4 x 8.7, 242 pages | ISBN 978-1-61902-742-8
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In his classic works of true crime, Harry MacLean examined the dark side of America and its fascination with violence. In The Joy of Killing, he builds upon this expert knowledge to create a page-turning literary thriller — an exciting combination of love story, mystery, psychological suspense, and meditation on human nature and the origins of violence.

This fever dream begins on a stormy fall night at a lake house in the north woods of Minnesota, where we are introduced to a college professor who a few years earlier had written a novel in which he justified a gruesome campus murder under the nihilistic theory that there is no right or wrong, no moral center to man’s activity. The writer returns to the lake house where he had spent his childhood summers and locks himself in the attic, intent on writing the final story of his life. Playing on a continuous loop in his mind are key moments in his past: his childhood in small-town Iowa, where he and his best friend befriended a local drifter; his childhood on the lake where one summer a local boy drowned in a storm; and the central fixation of his erotic meeting with a girl on a train bound for Chicago when he was just fifteen. All of these threads weave together as the writer tries to piece together the multitude of secrets and acts of violence that make up one human life.

Reminiscent of the work of noir master Derek Raymond and John Banville’s The Sea with a touch of David Lynch, The Joy of Killing, with its haunting language and vivid images, is both a fascinating look into the fugue state of one man’s mind as well as a searing, philosophical look at violence and its impact on our human condition. With its elegant structure, multiple storylines, and edge-of-your-seat suspense, the novel is the tour-de-force fiction debut by one of America’s premier writers of true crime.

About Harry MacLean

Harry MacLean is a lawyer and writer based in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of In Broad Daylight, which won an Edgar Award for Best True Crime and was a New York Times bestseller for twelve weeks; his second book, Once Upon A Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder, and the Law was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and his third book, The Past Is Never Dead: The Trial of James Ford Seale and Mississippi's Search for Redemption was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award, given by Stanford University.


Praise for The Joy of Killing

"It's a fascinating and frightening read, but if you were a fan of HBO's The Jinx or Netflix's Making a Murderer, I would absolutely recommend The Joy of Killing. Just like in those true crime docs, you won't be able to tell who's telling the truth, and might find yourself sympathizing with a killer. The novel will give you goosebumps on a hot summer day, like you thought was only possible if you ran into Robert Durst alone on the street." -- The Huffington Post

"Told in dark lyrical prose and revealing a master's command of the form, it's a rousing -- though not an unqualified -- success... I devoured it greedily, in part because MacLean writes gripping prose, in part because the book is masterfully constructed, and in part, yes, because of those lurid details."--Los Angeles Review of Books

"This is a disturbing novel and one that is impossible to set aside as it draws the reader toward a startling conclusion. Maclean is a master not only of story, but of words. The writing is too lyrical to categorize the book as just a thriller. The Joy of Killing is a noir literary work, a relentless tale about the dark side of the human soul." --Denver Post

"The Joy of Killing is a sophisticated philosophical thriller, its gothic vibes rooted in the murky soil of human behavior. Like a modern day Edgar Allen Poe, Harry MacLean knows how to manipulate the reader in all the best ways, right up to the novel's shocking ending." --Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland, Finalist for the 2014 Hammet Prize

"A man's desperate struggle to recapture his past propels this brilliant first novel from Edgar Award-winning true crime writer MacLean . . . MacLean skillfully takes readers along as the narrator spins and stumbles through a tangle of disturbing meditations on innocence and guilt."--Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

"[A] dreamlike novel...MacLean's writing is lyrical, ebbing and flowing like a deep riptide that conceals the danger beneath...A dizzying and delirious meditation on desire, violence, guilt, and philosophical justification...Yet it's almost impossible to resist the pull of the tide."--Kirkus

"Not since American Psycho has there been a novel as unnerving and relentless as Harry N. Maclean's compulsively readable The Joy of Killing. Inventive. Supremely twisted. And did I say unnerving?" --Gregg Olsen, New York Times best-selling author

"Harry MacLean has long been without peer at performing the alchemy required to turn the often banal facts of true crime into narratives as alluring as any fiction. In The Joy of Killing, he focuses his profound talents on a lyrical, relentless story that is at once literary and hardboiled. The Joy of Killing is an unblinking vision into a world where the currencies are elastic versions of eroticism, memory, tragedy, and violence, where a measure of vertigo is the norm, and where morality is a variable, never a constant. A complex, stunning novel." --Stephen White, New York Times best-selling author

"Harry MacLean's rich layering of reality and fantasy draws the reader into a vortex of turbulent images. The Joy of Killing is a brilliant look into a man's soul, a look that both fascinates and repels as it hurtles the reader toward an extraordinary ending. A major literary achievement." --Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author

"Harry MacLean's dark vision of crime and betrayal match perfectly with his abilities as a master stylist. Readers will not soon forget The Joy of Killing's surreal, nightmarish sequences, nor its chilling conclusion." --Diane Mott Davidson, New York Times best-selling author

Praise for In Broad Daylight

"Gripping...excellent and disturbing...a fine and richly rewarding book." --The Washington Post Book World

"First-class...Read and you may find yourself haunted." --Houston Chronicle

"A guaranteed page-turner. [A] truly compelling...piece of reporting." --Rocky Mountain News Sunday Magazine

"The Edgar Award winner takes readers right where they want to go--inside the story." --Gregg Olsen, bestselling author of The Girl in the Woods

"Honest and intriguing. The riveting back story of MacLean's true crime classic...a can't miss read!" -- Kathryn Casey, bestselling author of Deadly Little Secrets

"An engrossing, credible examination of the way vigilante action can take over when the law appears to be powerless." --Publishers Weekly

Praise for Once Upon a Time

"Important. . . Relentless. . . A many-faceted and accomplished study . . MacLean has taken a gruesome story and retold it with considerable sensitivity. A lawyer himself, he gives an account of the trial that is comprehensible yet suspenseful, enriched by his insights into the tactics and emotions of the opposing lawyers. His understanding and clarity with regard to psychological issues is exemplary. Anyone who doubts that family violence is one of the most destructive forces in our society today had better read this book." --New York Times

"A powerhouse of a true story." --Gregg Olson,

"Maclean gives us a fascinating look at a fascinating crime. No one will be bored reading this one." --Tony Hillerman

"A tragic but gripping story, and expertly crafted. Mr. MacLean has a positive talent for detail, and an obvious knowledge of the law. I congratulate him on a masterfully told story." --Steve Martini, author of Trader of Secrets

"Once Upon A Time is a well-written and meticulous account of a true human drama. . The author's objective viewpoint in presenting these facts makes for a compelling and challenging read. . The uncharted terrain of the human mind and its ability to repress as well as deceive are fascinating food for thought." --Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, author of Mitigating Circumstances

"If there's any true crime writer out there that can give my favorite author the late Jack Olsen a run for his spot on the list, it has to be Harry MacLean. MacLean has a unique ability to take a high profile case, dig up new and interesting facts, put it together with a detailed and thought-provoking narrative. . It is so well written that not to read it would be to miss a true crime classic." -- Kim Kantrell, True Crime Book Review

"A riveting, thought-provoking look at a disturbing case." --Kirkus

Praise for The Past is Never Dead

"The Past Is Never Dead works both as a true crime potboiler and as a broader allegory of the South's search for redemption." --BookPage

"From jury selection through the actual trial, MacLean offers a portrait of a state grappling with its past and anxious to remove its stigma." --Booklist

"With this book, Harry proves just how good he is as a lawyer and author...You will be riveted. Enough said." --

"MacLean's writing is unambiguous and clear, entertaining and fast-paced...The book is riveting." --Jackson Free Press

"[E]xtraordinary...What makes this book so profound are MacLean's insights into how the trial reflects Mississippi's social mores and internal conflict." --Denver Post

"[I]nsightful for anyone who wants a better understanding of the history of race relations in the South." --Roll Call

"Harry MacLean proves it yet again: Take a simmering controversy, a tense courtroom, and a pressing need for social context, and America has no better literary guide than MacLean. In The Past is Never Dead, he focuses his considerable storytelling talent on Mississippi's attempt to resurrect itself from the horrors of its segregationist past as James Ford Seale is brought to trial for his role in the deaths of Henry Dee and Charles Moore. MacLean brings the epic trial to life while he translates modern Mississippi's struggles for transformation. A powerful, timely book about the misunderstood, modern South." --Stephen White, New York Times-bestselling author of The Siege

"Even decades after the Civil Rights Movement wrought real change throughout the United States, Mississippi remains ground zero for what can be called the ongoing drama of racial inequality. This is the ground Harry MacLean walks in this fierce, moving, and tremendously engaging book." --Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University

"Fast-paced and tough-minded, The Past is Never Dead combines a taut and vivid courtroom drama with a passionate and cogent meditation on race, justice, and the awful burden of history." -- Laurence Shames, author of Boss of Bosses and Not Fade Away

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