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Murder Among Friends

Our Book Discussion On: "Truth Be Told" by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan picture

Truth Be Told, the MAF discussion on this book and with its author, was one of our finest hours! The group is still very engaged with this series and its heroine Jane Ryland. And we are completely spoiled by having the author, Hank Phillipi Ryan calling in to join the discussion on each of the books in this series. Not only has she come to the library when we started the series, she promised to get together with me to plan next year’s discussion of the upcoming book, What You See in 2016 – and what we’ll see, is Hank herself! She wants to come to this discussion in person!! She had a really hard time twisting our arm on this…

The discussion itself for Truth Be Told was lively, and interesting. Its main subject, housing foreclosures in the Boston area, was insightful and realistically portrayed. We felt it gave great heart to the story while being skillfully used to advance the plot. Detective Jake Brogan is mainly on his own in this story, and he’s trying to deal with multiple foreclosed house murders, as well as Boston’s most notorious cold case: the Lilac Sunday case – which has just become hot again, right before the anniversary of the crime. Jake also has personal reasons for wanting to see this old case solved. Our girl Jane is pursuing a story on the housing crisis that also involves the eviction of a middle-class family from their foreclosed home. Filming the process that police and bank go through after the family has left, we feel Jane’s empathy for the family and her dislike for the officious bank representative who tries to stop the filming. The stakes are raised when the cops reach the second floor – and a body is discovered.

We liked the way that a major cold case that Jake has been involved with in the past, is woven into the telling of the foreclosure murders. Especially after talking to Hank, we could see how each situation – and Jane & Jake’s relationship woes tie in to the larger theme that explores truth – and lies – on both the personal and cultural levels.

Thanks to our Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning author, also learned more about the extent a real investigative reporter could go to in pursuing a story. Hank shared the details with us about the story she pursued about corruption in the mortgage industry that literally had her hand-combing for countless hours through thousands of sheets of paper spread out all over her house with paper cut fingers. She felt it was all worth it when she turned up evidence that led to new and better legislation for the city of Boston.

We couldn’t let Hank go however, before expressing our deep appreciation for the wrench (otherwise known as The Man in the Towel) that she threw into the budding relationship between Jake and Jane. It delineated yet another level in this story: a theme of what constitutes trust in a relationship. Their path is especially complicated by their career choices – and both of them are deeply committed to their professions. We asked Hank if this was something she could relate to since she is married to a nationally renowned civil rights and criminal defense attorney. She told us she could definitely relate to the situation, and that both she and her husband have clearly defined where the level of communication needs to be when he’s involved in a case – or she is involved in a story where their confidentiality is required – and it makes a terrific, realistic complication for her characters’ relationship!

Hank got a kick out of our “Graphic Crime Quiz” for her novel and asked me to send her a copy of it. We also sent her copies of our group’s picture – where I’m holding the Aaron Gianelli-inspired cannolis, and the group is showing support for Jane by flashing their Twizzlers. You can tell we were having a splendid time! Being Hank, she sent the group a number of goodies (including fun eyeglass cases that say “What You See” on them; a great souvenir for both this year’s discussion, and reading What You See in 2016.

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