In “Conviction,” Julia Dahl has managed yet again to create a mystery that seamlessly ties past and present as well as different cultures. Rebekah Roberts grew up in Florida and never knew the Hasidic Jewish mother who abandoned her and her father when Rebekah was an infant. Rebekah moves to New York as an adult to work in journalism, and in one of the previous books she gets to meet her mother.
In this story, Rebekah’s relationship with her mother doesn’t really progress, but there is so much happening the reader won’t even notice. The story is about a murder that took place in 1992 and the teenager who was arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime. The problem is that he didn’t do the murders.
DeShawn, the now forty-year-old man, sends a letter about his case to someone who turns it over to Rebekah along with other letters from convicts claiming they are innocent. Because Rebekah knows one of the arresting officers in this case, she decides to look into it. What she finds will change the lives of those she knows and will end the lives of a few innocent people.
The story is extremely timely because it reveals the prejudice and racism that were endemic in New York at that time. The Central Park Five, the teenagers who were wrongly accused of the rape of a woman in Central Park, is mentioned in the book. Interestingly, Dahl shows that those who indulge in racial bias aren’t always those who have a different skin color.
The story is chilling, the writing beautifully effective for the most part, and the plot and placement of the events carefully thought out. While the book certainly can be a stand-alone novel, the characters and the settings continue from past books about Rebekah Roberts, including “Run You Down” and “Invisible City.” Read them all and enjoy.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Minotaur Books, for review purposes.