Fresh Meat: The Crime of Julian Wells by Thomas H. Cook

The Crime of Julian Wells by Thomas H CookThe Crime of Julian Wells by Thomas H. Cook is a mystery and a novel of psychological suspense in which the layers of a man’s life are peeled away to reveal a surprising secret (available August 7, 2012).

When the body of famed true-crime writer Julian Wells is found in a boat drifting on a Montauk pond, the question isn’t how he died, but why. The death looks like an obvious suicide, but why would Wells take his own life? And was this his only crime?

“There’s no more haunting story than that of an unsolved crime,” Julian had once written, and now Philip, the friend who thought so highly and yes, even a little bit jealously, of him needs to find out for himself the reason he took his own life.

Philip’s quest for the truth will not prove easy though, because Julian died leaving behind just a small clue but no real answers. Could the truth lie somewhere in his books, or did something else happen that made Julian decide enough was enough and that he couldn’t go on living in this brutal world of ours?

Philip can’t stop himself from feeling a little bit guilty for what happened. Maybe if he was there more, maybe if he knew his friend better, maybe if he could read in his face his sorrow and his pain, he could have helped him. Julian however had always been a man on the move, for him the road was home.

From his first trip abroad, I’d had little doubt that he would remain an expatriate all his life, which made it all the stranger that in the end—that terrible, lonely end—he had died at home.

Now, my thought, growing more insistent by the hour, was how I may have saved him.

Thus as a man on a mission he crosses the Atlantic and goes to Paris to gather Julian’s belongings from his apartment there and then decides to keep on traveling, moving from one place to the next, visiting the places that Julian wrote about, meeting people who knew him, and finding out a lot of the secrets the friends never shared.

Who, really, was Julian? Philip asks himself time and again. Who was that eccentric, mystifying, and introverted man? As it turns out he was, to paraphrase Kafka, somebody else. Who exactly? It will take a lot of time and a lot of traveling, and a quite a bit of detective work, until the reader, as well as the hero, finds the answer. However the journey that will lead Philip to the final solution will be full of surprises and flourished with bits and pieces of history that make the narrative much richer, and as time goes by more compelling.

There’s not a single word too many in this novel. The author wanted to tell a story about love and loss, but also about personal and collective pain, and dress it in a coat of mystery and he did just that. This is not your usual crime novel, which makes it all the better, not just because it crosses genre boundaries, but primarily because it does.

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Lakis Fourouklas has published four novels and three short-story collections in Greek. He’s currently translating his work into English and blogs at Fiction & More. He also keeps a few blogs in Greek regarding general fiction, Japanese literature, and crime fiction. Follow him on Twitter: @lakisf.  He lives in the wilderness of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Read all posts by Lakis Fourouklas for Criminal Element.


  1. Tatiana deCarillion

    The only book I’ve read of his was Red Leaves, which I really liked, so I think I will add this new one to my to-read pile! Thanks for the review 🙂

  2. Lakis Fourouklas

    Thanks for the comment decarillion. This is the first of his books that I’ve read and I can say that I’ve really enjoyed it.

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