The Joy of Killing

BuyFromAmazonIn his classic works of true crime, Harry N. MacLean examined the dark side of America and its fascination with violence. In The Joy of Killing: A Novel (on-sale July 14th, 2015) he builds upon this expert knowledge to create a page-turning literary thriller—an exciting combination of love story, mystery, and meditation on human nature and the origins of violence.

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“A dark, compelling literary work, this marks the fictional debut of Denver true-crime writer Mac Lean. He combines an eerie night in a deserted house with the recollection of a teenage sexual encounter on a train, in a story that explores the lure of violence. The mystery repels and haunts.”

— Sandra Dallas, Denver Post, Best fiction books 2015


Not since American Psycho has there been a novel as unnerving and relentless as Harry N. Maclean’s compulsively readable The Joy of Killing. Inventive. Supremely twisted. And did I say unnerving?”

—Gregg Olsen, New York Times best-selling author

MacLean’s writing is lyrical, ebbing and flowing like a deep riptide that conceals the danger beneath… it’s almost impossible to resist the pull of the tideA dizzying and delirious meditation on desire, violence, guilt, and philosophical justification.”


This fever dream begins on a stormy fall night at a lake house in the north woods of Minnesota, where we are introduced to a college professor who a few years earlier had written a novel in which he justified a gruesome campus murder under the nihilistic theory that there is no right or wrong, no moral center to man’s activity. The writer returns to the lake house, where he spent his childhood summers, and locks himself in the attic, intent on writing the final story of his life. Playing on a continuous loop in his mind are key moments in his past: his childhood in small-town Iowa, where he befriended a local drifter; his childhood on the lake, where one summer a local boy drowned in a storm; and the central fixation of his erotic meeting with a girl on a train bound for Chicago when he was just fifteen. All of these threads weave together as the writer tries to piece together the multitude of secrets and acts of violence that make up one human life.

Reminiscent of the work of noir master Derek Raymond and John Banville’s The Sea, with a touch of David Lynch, The Joy of Killing is both a fascinating look into the fugue state of one man’s mind as well as a searing, philosophical look at violence and its impact on our human condition. The novel is a tour-de-force fiction debut by one of America’s premier writers of true crime.

“Harry MacLean’s rich layering of reality and fantasy draws the reader into a vortex of turbulent images. The Joy of Killing is a brilliant look into a man’s soul, a look that both fascinates and repels as it hurtles the reader toward an extraordinary ending. A major literary achievement.”

Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author

“Harry MacLean has long been without peer at performing the alchemy required to turn the often banal facts of true crime into narratives as alluring as any fiction. In The Joy of Killing, he focuses his profound talents on a lyrical, relentless story that is at once literary and hardboiledThe Joy of Killing is an unblinking vision into a world where the currencies are elastic versions of eroticism, memory, tragedy, and violence, where a measure of vertigo is the norm, and where morality is a variable, never a constant. A complex, stunning novel.”

—Stephen White, New York Times best-selling author

Harry MacLean’s dark vision of crime and betrayal match perfectly with his abilities as a master stylist. Readers will not soon forget The Joy of Killing‘s surreal, nightmarish sequences, nor its chilling conclusion.”

—Diane Mott Davidson, New York Times best-selling author

“A masterfully constructed hall of mirrors, Edgar Award–winning true crime writer Harry N. MacLean’s The Joy of Killing reinvents the conventional thriller.. Told in dark lyrical prose and revealing a master’s command of the form, it’s a rousing. . . success.”

—Tom Andes, L.A. Review of Books


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