In Convictions J P Jones gives us a familiar sort of can't-put-it-down detective thriller and then gives it twists in unexpected ways that lift it out of the genre box and places it into the category of being something remarkable--a noir novel with profound meditative resonance. I would borrow Melville's subtitle from Pierre and recast the title into Convictions, Or the Ambiguities.
Tommy Baker is the experienced DC detective investigating a brutal, racist murder of a young woman. He hails from West Virginia and is the Outsider/Other who does not, has never quite, fit into the Washington world of polarities and contradictions that fall along familiar black-white, north-south, upper-lower class lines. Add in too the politics of a city that lives and breathes nothing but.
Jones has crafted an incredibly tight, finely honed work of suspense, a reader's delight of tension and carefully unfolded revelations and turns. Even though the crime gets solved, Baker feels loose ends remain and another murder happens, so the one story complicates into a different story and our expectations and comprehension must also complicate. The resulting exploration of the certainties that drive each of the characters becomes quite satisfying and a genuine examination of what each means by truth, investigation, discrimination and justice.