Long Black Veil

A Novel
Narrated by: Jennifer Finney Boylan
Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
4 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott, a novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past, from the New York Times best-selling author of She's Not There.

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter, and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it's not long before they realize they are locked in - and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors' lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them - celebrity chef Jon Casey - with murder. Only Casey's old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.

But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own - secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a "before" and an "after", how is it possible to live one life, not two?

Weaving deftly between 1980 and the present day, and told in an unforgettable voice, Long Black Veil is an intensely atmospheric thriller that explores the meaning of identity, loyalty, and love. Listeners will hail this as Boylan's triumphant return to fiction.

©2017 Jennifer Finney Boylan (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[A] madcap thriller full of hidden identities.... And embedded in the whodunit is a heartwarming midlife love story, in which hard-won candor, tenacity, and a generous sense of humor are the most saving of graces." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Boylan, who has reaped praise in recent years with memoirs exploring her transgender experience, doesn't miss a storytelling beat in her first novel as she blends atmospheric elements of a Shirley Jackson-like haunting, a secret-laden murder tale featuring an ensemble cast, and an eye-opening glimpse of the complex choices transgender people face. This crime debut is certain to attract a genre-blurring following, but recommendations to fans of Erin Kelly's The Poison Tree and Donna Tartt's The Secret History are sure bets." ( Booklist)
"Boylan's twisty and entertaining thriller takes a hard look at questions of identity, love, and trust. Recommended for fans of Megan Abbott and Donna Tartt." ( Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome!

JFB is a wonderful story teller. Love the audible. Great mystery! Highly recommended! I bought the hardcover also!

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Decent book, awful narration

The author reads her own work, and unfortunately she has a very odd style. She frequently stops in the middle of a sentence, then adds the last two or three words one at a time, as if she might be running out of breath. Her character voices are also very poorly done -- for instance, the character of Casey, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, sounds like a Jeff Spicoli-style Cali surfer dude.

The book itself has its problems as well (such as a few amazingly convenient plot turns), but none of them are as troubling as the narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Could barely get into it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator totally detracted. Her voice was terrible for this. I could not listen to it.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Narration is unbearable

I may have liked the story, but I never had the chance to find out. Authors who read their own works often do an unfortunate job, and this one was no exception.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A great story

I have long been a fan of Jennifer Finney Boylan’s writing, having read her memoir many years ago, then circling back to earlier works. She’s a wonderful storyteller, and this audiobook read by the author herself, is very enjoyable.

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A phenomenal entry in trans literature!

When I stumbled across this book, I wasn't expecting something so beautifully written as this. I was looking for trans literature, with which I have had mixed experiences; to find this master tapestry of characters woven together ... It felt so real. I had to stop at multiple points due to how devastatingly closely I related to Judith. I was thoroughly riveted by the journey all the characters traversed, however. Each individual was their own person, with their own life they were living. I wish this had been part of my required reading back in my high school English class.

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Personal transformation / slice of life

I listened to the audiobook version of this book twice and really enjoyed it. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook presentation.

The story is good, though it is told in the manner of moving back and forth between present and past. Intellectually I understand it, as it traces one woman's journey though a troubled childhood into profound transformations.

I think the best explanation is that it is no so much a story to be "understood" as it is a presentation of a human being to be "felt, or emotionally understood." This is not a new story (though very unique), but a skillfully 'new' presentation which works very well IMHO.

The narration is very enjoyable! That is the primary reason I listened twice through, though I wanted some storyline clarity from the repeat. Finney Boylan's presentation is not perfect but thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Her voice is appropriate and gives all the right inflections and cadences to support the characters and story.

(Her autobiography is very interesting also - I recommend reviewing it as well.)

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Don’t bother with this one

The characters and the dialogue are ridiculously trite, and the narration is equally bad. Just awful.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

author is not narrator. Accents take away from sto

How could the performance have been better?

The wrong voice is reading this. The accents and intonations take away from the story.

Any additional comments?

I will ask for a refund.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Solid literary mystery

Would you consider the audio edition of Long Black Veil to be better than the print version?

I love authors who read their own work, and I love narrators who don't have that old-school style. Some characters really get a chance to exist more fully when I get to hear them the way the author envisions. People who prefer a more traditional narrator may want to listen to an audio sample first to get a feel for it. I really settled in to Boylan's narration, she does great voices and accents, too.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The summary spoils some thinks about the book that I wish it wouldn't, but it's hard to write around one of the major plot points. The first-person narrator of much of the book is such a great character.

Any additional comments?

It's recommended for readers of Tartt and Abbott and they are both some of my favorites. Boylan's tone and prose may not feel much like either of theirs, but this is definitely a character-driven novel more than a crime novel and in that way it does feel apt.

1 person found this helpful