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Over Tumbled Graves (Caroline Mabry #1)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  602 ratings  ·  71 reviews
During a routine drug bust, on a narrow bridge over white-water falls in the center of town, Spokane detective Caroline Mabry finds herself face-to-face with a brutal murderer. Within hours, the body of a young prostitute is found on the riverbank nearby. What follows confronts our fascination with pathology and murder and stares it down, as Caroline and her cynical partne ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Harper (first published January 1st 2001)
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Serious and yet oddly whimsical serial killer mystery. This is Walter's first novel, and you can tell that there were a lot of elements he wanted to get in there—the Green River Killer and the double-edged sword of profiling and new policing vs. old and T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" and even a touch of romance. I'm not sure how well it all works together; the resulting work feels a bit disjointed, not quite complete. But it's also so much more interesting and complex than the average mystery, wi ...more
Another great novel by Jess Walter. I think this was his first work of fiction. It might be not as polished or perfect as a thriller by an experienced author, but Walter succeeded in writing a crime story that has at the same time a literary depth and an engaging, believable plot. Too often you find either one or the other, but not both elements in the same book. Characters are 3D sculptures, alive and breathing from the pages. You also have an original twist on the "cynical investigator who ben ...more
aPriL eVoLvEs (ex-Groot)
A long time ago I spent time in Spokane, Washington, the setting for this marvelously written literary mystery. The small city itself was an interesting place of contrasts, surrounded by a beautiful and dramatic landscape. This was in the 1970's, so I imagine it has changed a great deal. However, when I was there it was in the process of trying to fit two very different life philosophies together - blue-collar, hard-working hard-drinking country/cowboy-music unstyled people with calloused hands ...more
I've been thru Spokane before. It's one of those mid-sized smaller cities like Buffalo, NY; Dearborn, MI; Springville, IL; and a city that I spent more than 10 years in, Duluth, MN. These cities (and a handful of others) had big big money when the railroad was big and when inland ports prospered. There's a certain poverty that lives in these cities that threatens to drown out the history - poverty resulting from meth, the white poor, bigger gangs moving into smaller communities, and the people t ...more
I read this book – when it was initially published – almost ten years ago. I remembered it as a police procedural/mystery set in Spokane, Washington, with two interesting and flawed law enforcement protagonists tracking a serial killer. My memory served me right, but in rereading Over Tumbled Graves I noted a not so subtle undercurrent in the writing and story-telling. Although this book has all the ingredients of the mystery/thriller genre, the finished product is not what I expected, i.e. the ...more
I read Beautiful Ruins last summer and was so enthralled by (a) Jess Walter's prose and (b) the fact that he's from Spokane and sets some of his novels there that I promptly added pretty much everything he's ever written to my to-read list. It's just taken me a little while to get to it. After reading this one, I already have a library request in for the second Caroline Mabry novel, Land of the Blind. I think I'll be reading a lot of Jess Walter this summer.

A drug-bust gone bad turns into a hom
Finding a new author (new in the sense of my never having been exposed to him before) that I like is one of the great pleasures in life … and I definitely will be looking for novels by Jess Walter in the future. It turns out that this was Walters’ first published novel (2001), and this copy was a 2000 advanced reader’s edition (Not For Sale). This particular copy appeared on the book-swap shelf at the VA Hospital last week. Frankly, I picked it up largely because it was set in large print (altho ...more
Scotty Cameron
So, I read Land of the Blind before reading this, which meant I knew how certain things would go. Somehow, though, that didn't change how much I enjoyed the book. I think that really says something about the power of good writing. However, I strongly recommend reading this first!

This book follows Caroline Mabry and Alan Dupree, two police officers in the homicide unit, as they try to unravel the seemingly open-and-shut case of several murdered prostitutes, their bodies all found in the same mann
Sharon Styer
I am on a Jess Walter tear. Under Tumbled Graves is the 5th book of Walter's that I have read. Yikes.
I think my addiction stems from his newspaper reporter quality. He writes with knowledge of police and crime. He's obviously an observant man. He knows his characters and he helps us know his characters. Also, he writes from Spokane, WA which is a similar town to Tacoma. I just relate to his writing and so wish someone from Tacoma could write in this same way.
This plot positions old police styles
Patrick McCoy
After reading two recent impressive novels (Citizen Vince and The Zero) by Jess Walters I have decided to go back and read his first two novels. The first of which is Over Tumbled Graves. The title comes from an epigraph from T.S. Eliot’s seminal poem “The Waste Land”:

In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing

Over the tumbled graves.

In fact, Walters states in an interview in the back of the book that he has tried to write a parallel structure with the poem in the novel. I can’t judge whethe
This is a great mystery by one of my favorite authors. I can't believe I'd never heard of him until I saw his new short story collection We Live in Water on the new book shelf at my local library. Since that one I've read 5 more, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. This one is pure suspense, with plenty of surprises in the last third of the book. The plot and pacing are excellent, and the story never gets tired. The characters are multi-dimensional and full of life. I love Mr. Walter's writing styl ...more
Eric Eden
What a terrific writer! Over Tumbled Graves, like other works of Jess Walter, doesn't really fit neatly into a category. The writing is really compelling, the multiple story lines are interesting, and OTG is about more than one thing. It's first and foremost an exciting mystery about a serial killer in Spokane, WA. (I think all Jess' books are set in Spokane, where he lives and has worked as a business reporter before turning to writing fiction). OTG is also a meditation on the lives of police, ...more
I got to know the characters inside out, and felt like I could meet one of them for lunch quite comfortably--they were real, good parts and not-so-good parts, pain and some bliss. Both Caroline and Dupree do the best they can, and just do not give up, finding the solution. making big mistakes they have to live with forever, but getting the job done. The best part of this mystery was the rare denoument--it was a surprise, it made perfect sense, it all hung together, it came toward the end of the ...more
My second Jess Walter book – I seem to be finding all of his lesser known works before the famous ones which I’m actually looking for and which everyone has recommended to me. The paperback copy of this book which I found in the library was 500 pages long and I read the entire thing sitting in the sun on my porch one Sunday… awesome!

This story is a well-written but otherwise pretty run-of-the-mill murder mystery set in Spokane, Washington (which I imagine to look like the setting of Benny and Jo
Milo King
I enjoyed this early Jess Walter novel. It is pretty much in the crime fiction/police procedural genre, only better. You can see the attention played to character and ideas, in addition to plotting, that comes to full fruition in his later novels in this vein - Citizen Vince and The Zero.
Chrystal Hays
This is not as nuanced as his later work, but character development is sublime. For a "crime" novel, this has a lot of depth. I felt enough suspense to make me tense, and I laughed in a few places...not an easy combination for an author to pull off.
This could be a very great movie, if it were filmed as it is written. Sadly, the film industry tendency to create "happier" endings, add uneccessary sex, and tie up loose strings would probably ruin it completely.
I really liked it, and that 5th star
This is a brilliant book which elevates the police procedural narrative to literature status. Walter's angsty heroine Caroline Mabry returns to deal with her much younger beau, Jesse and her partner-almost lover, Alan Dupree. The book starts off with a bang: a drug bust gone wrong places Mabry in danger, and an informant is killed. The action here is slow-burn: clues are thrown out, personal details given, and then the plot weaves all of these elements seamlessly. Mabry and Dupree are assigned t ...more
This is a brilliant book which elevates the police procedural narrative to literature status. Walter's angsty heroine Caroline Mabry returns to deal with her much younger beau, Jesse and her partner-almost lover, Alan Dupree. The book starts off with a bang: a drug bust gone wrong places Mabry in danger, and an informant is killed. The action here is slow-burn: clues are thrown out, personal details given, and then the plot weaves all of these elements seamlessly. Mabry and Dupree are assigned t ...more
A contemporary police drama, this was a bit outside of my usual range of genres for reading. I picked it up on a whim from the library at an "I don't really know what to read next" juncture, and was pleasantly surprised. While I don't usually read this sort of story, it reminded me somewhat of Law & Order SVU, which I do enjoy.

It was a good mystery, and a good story. Walter's writing, for the most part, moved at a good pace and was fun to read. He also seemed to have some sort of background
I absolutely loved this page-turner mystery! I can't wait to read the next one. The main character was interesting and exciting and as the story unfolded I found myself immersed in all of the characters. While the end of the book grew predictable the way Walter told the story kept me up all night so I could finish it.
Good book. Sad. What I like about JW so far is that his characters feel alive and they are never concluded, there isn't an easy wrap-up for them at the end. Life is open-ended and he allows that for them. I'm not squirming uncomfortably when I read him and believe me, he has a lot to say.

I felt like Caroline's voice in this book wasn't authentically female, it was my only issue. It was a bit distant for me, like an echo. I couldn't really hear her. If I'm not being too analytical it felt an all
I read and enjoy well written mystery/suspense novels but many of them just run together after a while. I really liked this distinctive, first-rate thriller. After reading all of the positive plugs about Beautiful Ruins by the same author, I decided to check this one out. In contrast to the many over-the-top detectives in other recent crime dramas, these were believable…sometimes cynical and often overworked, frustrated and full of personal uncertainties. Dupree, one of the investigators, is esp ...more
Creepy! I wasn't pulled in right away, but I the mystery intriguing once I got interested.
After falling in love with "The Financial Lives of the Poets," being confused by "The Zero" and reading "Beautiful Ruins," to which no other book I read after that could compare, I've decided to read all Walter's books.

This one was a good, fast-paced story. For his first novel, it's not bad. The characters are relatively stock, and the relationship quandary is overused. But like Walter does in everything else he writes, he turns stereotypes and stock story lines and characters into something mo
Theresa Mannix
Nov 25, 2007 Theresa Mannix rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NW mystery fans
I loved Citizen Vince and have been going back to read Walter's earlier books. This one doesn't have the great humor that made Citizen Vince so appealing. In fact, it's kind of grim. Det. Caroline Mabry is single, thirty-something, and trying to find a reason why she still lives in Spokane WA. She gets caught up in the investigation of the serial murders of several local prostitutes. This is a character-driven book. The kind I like. And, for those who like a good mystery, there's an ending with ...more
Nov 12, 2007 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like murder mysteries, character-driven stories
The story revolves around police efforts to catch a serial killer who is stalking prostitutes in Spokane, WA.

Overall bleak tone to the book, which is fitting because this book is all about shades of gray and black. No white knights here, just people and all of their flaws.

The characters and story were interesting, and the mystery at the center of the book was resolved well and believably. I didn't see the end coming, but it made sense in the context of the story. Very satisfying read.
Chris May
I don't have a lot of experience in the crime/mystery genre, even though I like it, but I liked this book quite a bit. Characters are well built and realistic, I found them to have depth and complexity and not be flat. The story is well paced too. Maybe I liked it more because it is set in Spokane, and I grew up there, even though most of it took place in downtown or on the South Hill, where I spent very little time. His observations of the river, and the town itself rang true to me.
Slow paced, but with a satisfying finish.
This is one of Jess Walter's early works. Enjoyable read.
Peter Heinrich
Oct 04, 2011 Peter Heinrich rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Peter by: Kathryn
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Nice change of pace from the parade of depravity often used to escalate the shock value of crime fiction. Not what I would call especially memorable, but the story moves along and kept me interested. A good little book for your back pocket.

I have a copy of The Zero, so I'll probably try Walter again.
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Jess Walter is the author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe among many others.

Walter also writes screenplays and was the co-author of Christopher Darden’s 1996 b
More about Jess Walter...

Other Books in the Series

Caroline Mabry (2 books)
  • Land of the Blind (Caroline Mabry, #2)
Beautiful Ruins The Financial Lives of the Poets We Live in Water Citizen Vince The Zero

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“our lives have a way of eddying back on themselves, offering us the same view over and over, daring us to get it right just once.” 1 likes
“Caroline was struck by just how close twenty-four feet really is, how little space really exists between us. Of course they were different, Lenny Ryan’s shooting of the pawnbroker, her own shooting of the wife beater. But that meant there was a difference between what Lenny Ryan did and what Kevin Verloc did, that in the end we are separated not by distance, but degree. And in that truth was another; none of us knows, in the tumble of events, what she is capable of doing.” 1 likes
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