All small towns have their history. Many have their secrets. It’s what people will do to maintain those secrets that usually make a good story. And maybe a chance for redemption or a chance to remember a bad choice. When it comes to the first novel by writer Fabian Nicieza Suburban dicksit’s a bit of both.
Death in West Windsor, NJ
Nicieza’s story revolves around something that has rarely happened in the West Windsor area: a homicide. A young man with special needs is found shot and killed at a local gas station. Luckily, a VERY pregnant mother with her four children arrived at the station just as two local police officers were trying to preserve the budding crime scene. And do a poor job of it. At least, as far as mother-to-be Andie Stern is concerned.
A career decision
At one point, before her train of children started, Andie was an up-and-coming FBI profiler. It was her work that brought to justice a young woman who had committed a number of grisly murders. Unfortunately, after that, she had decided to give up on that career and focus on being a wife and mother. A decision she regrets every day. Stumbling upon this crime scene and observing the incompetence of local law enforcement reminded him of what could have been. Not to mention his need to help solve this crime.
Reclaim past glory
But Andie wasn’t the only one who needed to be reminded of what once was. There was a time when journalist Kenneth Lee was at the top of the reporting world. He had won a Pulitzer Prize before graduating from college. He had written a bestselling book and had even been interviewed by Brian Williams for God’s sake. Ken was THE MAN! At least as far as journalists are concerned.
The only problem is that when you’re at the top of the mountain, the only direction to go is down. Moreover, the need to repeat that success becomes overwhelming. In Ken’s case, it forced him to make bad choices and fabricate source material for a story.
It’s true what they say, what goes up must come down. His mistakes were exposed and his once-promising journalistic career was torpedoed. What Ken needed was a story. A GREAT story! The one that would allow him to prove he was still that guy who once won a Pulitzer. The gas station attendant’s death could be that opportunity. But he would need help. That helper would turn out to be former FBI profiler and Ken’s main high school crush, Andie Stern.
During their investigation, long “buried” secrets in West Windsor would be uncovered as well as a long and escalating systemic racism that continues to the present day. Nicieza explores all of this with his well-regarded biting satirical wit. When mixed with historical mystery and ethnically charged murder, Suburban dicks entertains and challenges your inner detective.
The most compelling thing about Suburban dicks that’s how it sounds so plausible. Both in the nature of how such a thing could happen and in the circumstances of two main characters that led them to take on this case. Knowing the social environment in the late 60s, early 70s, it is no exaggeration that a sordid event from the past could be the trigger that could rekindle old prejudices. Not to mention that these negative feelings could simply evolve from one ethnic group to another. The ability to hate or discriminate has still not disappeared. Despite all our so-called societal advances. Nicieza brings it all into relief with a masterful sense of dialogue that puts you right in that place and moment. While immersing the reader in a captivating thriller. I highly recommend checking it out.
If you’re like me and find it hard to find the time to read as much as you want, I also highly recommend the Audible version of Suburban dicks. Narrated by Natalie Naudus, she does a great job inhabiting all of the characters in the books. Her interpretation of Jennifer Guilfoy’s interview and what she heard and saw is particularly powerful. It was chilling and did Nicieza’s dialogue justice.
Suburban dicks by Fabian Nicieza can be found where great books are sold and on Amazon Audible. Be sure to check out Nicieza’s sequel to this book, The self-taught widow coming June 21. Both published by GP Putnam’s Sons.
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