The Changeling: A Mystery

The Changeling: A Mystery

Review: The serial-killer thriller ‘Holy Spider’ gets stuck in its own morally murky web

As the title might suggest, writer Daniel Woodrell’s “The Changeling” (the first book in a trilogy) is a thriller, with a twist. It takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early summer of 2004, about three years after the 2002 rape and murder of six female joggers in Cambridge. Police detective Jake Malloy (Nick Mancuso) is the prime suspect in the case—and in his investigation comes a mysterious woman, a witness, who implicates Malloy in the rape, and the murder of the joggers. Jake has no friends, and not a lot of family. And he’s living quietly in a rented apartment in Roxbury.

Then one night a mysterious new tenant moves in: a woman who calls herself “Liz” and whose name rhymes with “liz.”

Now, in book two, the main detective’s best friend, Jake’s ex-girlfriend, Liz, who’s been in love with him for a while, finds herself in a similar predicament with Jake’s new boss. And in this case things turn weird. Jake’s not the predator. He’s a man in love with his job and a little out of his depth. But when an elderly woman is found brutally murdered in the neighborhood, the police begin to realize that, like Jake, they are not the only ones who might have a murderous grudge. And when the police start to believe all three are somehow involved, the people they’re looking at—the police, the suspect, and Liz—also become the people who are looking at them.

All well and good, and the crime novels are well written. But does it deliver a satisfying emotional payoff that makes it a good book? Is it a mystery at all? Does it make you think differently about Jake, and what he’s capable of? Or is it a series of whodunits? And that’s only the first of many questions about “The Changeling.”

“The Changeling” begins with the police and the investigation into the murders of the women in Cambridge. But the story quickly veers into a strange world of murder, sex, and drugs. As the book

Leave a Comment