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Fresh Kills

3.23  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
When John Sanders, Jr., learns that his father has been murdered, his only regret is that he didn't pull the trigger himself. Yet despite his rage at his father for a lifetime of abuse, he becomes obsessed with finding the killer.

But as a string of dead ends and violent encounters leave Junior no closer to any answers, his relationship with his beloved sister crumbles, wh
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published August 21st 2008 by Putnam Adult (first published August 1st 2008)
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FRESH KILLS (Pub. 2008) by Bill Loehfelm was an interesting novel. I read this book because it won the Amazon Breakout Novel Award for 2008. By the end of the first page, you know you are in the hands of a strong writer. The author's prose style and voice are what I loved most about the book. The topnotch writing starts strong, and remains strong throughout the book.

The story is about a man in his thirties, who survived an abusive childhood at the hands of his belligerent father, and is now stru
Maureen Donohue
Jun 07, 2015 Maureen Donohue rated it did not like it
I have lived on Staten Island for over 50 yrs now. My children grew up here and we had a good life even though they have left Staten Island for other more interesting boroughs. I am a born and bred NYC person growing up in Manhattan and moving to Staten Island before the bridge was built. I was interested in this book because of its truthful depictions of many of Staten Island's areas and flaws but I found it bitter and the protagonist stupid and dissolute. His constant emphasis on everything wr ...more
Paul Pessolano
Jan 30, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it did not like it
John Sanders, Jr.'s father is murdered in the first chapter in "Fresh Kills". We do not find out why and who until the next to the last chapter in the book. Great stuff, right?

As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend".

All the pages in between these two events deal with a young man, John Jr. who is alcoholic and has a chip on his shoulder as big as a 2 by 4. The reader finds that he has been physically abused by his father from a very young age. His anger at just about everybody and everyth
Nov 19, 2008 Nette rated it liked it
Am I getting harder to please? This book was wildly well-reviewed, and I didn't get it at all. I thought it was a clumsy mashup of sentimentality and hard boiled noire, with unrealistic dialog and a whiny main character. But the Staten Island atmosphere was very well done.
May 28, 2009 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Didn't care about any of these people. Couldn't go on.
Aug 07, 2009 Maddy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
PROTAGONIST: John Sanders, Jr.
SETTING: Staten Island, New York

There are few things sadder than seeing the hopes and dreams of a child crushed by growing up in a dysfunctional family where love and acceptance are in short supply. The ramifications of being emotionally and physically abused in one's youth are severe. The person may end up emotionally stunted themselves. In the case of John Sanders, Jr., his father's unrelenting abuse during his childhood has turned him into a bitter and
Jan 10, 2013 D.K. rated it liked it
Fresh Kills is marketed as a crime mystery, but don't be fooled, it's really a story about John Sanders, Jr, a man trying to deal with his internal turmoil after the sudden death of his father. John Sr. was an abrusive man to his wife and mostly to his son. John Jr. is prone to angry outbursts, consuming a lot of alcohol, and blaming every bad thing in his life on his father. But with his dad murdered and being cheated of the final confrontation he'd always expect to have with him, Jr. has no on ...more
Aug 30, 2008 Pat rated it really liked it
I saw this listed in a magazine and was intrigued by it's Staten Island setting (having lived there and being married to a Brooklyn born, Staten Islander myself). Admittedly, seeing so many familiar locations as a backdrop enhanced the story; but it's a story that would have been worthy of attention regardless of it's locale. Familiar themes of abuse, betrayal, redemption, broken relationships and dreams, are given a "fresh" perusal; I'll look forward to Bill's next book.
Jun 27, 2010 Melissa rated it liked it
Since this centers around an angry 30 yr-old white male, this isn't the easiest book to get through. But it's also about family disasters and loyalty, and learning to let the hardest things in life go. Worth it to get to the end.
Oct 16, 2008 Cate rated it really liked it
Shelves: uno
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2013 Katherine rated it liked it
This book annoys me. I know that the streets are Staten Island streets, I know that the locations are right, but he could not have the feel of this island more wrong. It's hard to read a book about where you're from when it doesn't sound anything like where you're from. If you're going to use a real place, do it right. No one could get shot here execution style without the whole island being in an outrage, people don't just get shot here. You can't smell the dump from anywhere unless you're righ ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Dec 09, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
John Sanders, Jr. hated his violent, hard drinking father whose quick temper was matched by the speed of his fists, so much so that when he is told that his father has been murdered his first reaction is to be glad. He'd written his father off years ago and the only reason to drive across Staten Island to the neighborhood he grew up in is to help his sister. She asks him to stay a few days, until the funeral's over and he finds himself forced to confront his feelings for his father and to re-exa ...more
Dec 09, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Lish McBride
_Fresh Kills_ should come with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a nicotine patch, and smell of stale cigarettes. Lots and lots of smoking! So well described (or so often?) that you could almost imagine the scent.

I've never been to Staten Island, nor did I know much about it, so it was interesting to have a book set there with such detailed descriptions of the area. I didn't even know what Fresh Kills was (a garbage dump, for those not in the know).

John Sanders spends the majority of this book taking
Dec 19, 2008 Laren rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Wasserman
A little mixed on this one. The first 3rd was a bit intense, may just be out of my comfort zone. Some of the early SI references felt a little heavy and forced. evened out nicely, story developed well, the SI references made sense and helped move the story along and the progression and ending were quite satisfying.

Overall, I enjoyed revisiting the Staten Island of my youth in a well-written tale.

Hey, It's an Island - the places and experiences have been shared by many over the deca
Laura Ruetz
Dec 18, 2014 Laura Ruetz rated it liked it
This is a murder mystery that really isn't. It is marketed as such but really, it has very little mystery and there is no thriller aspect. What you get is an angry, bitter and rather unlikable main character who had an equally unlikable father who was murdered. I expected a mystery and this fails to deliver. However, it is not a terrible book, it's just not one that delivers what you are expecting. While the angst and anger of the main character is understandable, it bogs down the storyline and ...more
Renee Pawlish
Sep 20, 2011 Renee Pawlish rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2009 Ginnetta rated it really liked it
Really 4.5 stars.
Fresh Kills is more about a journey to a past. A hard and sad childhood. As a reader, I felt a deep connection with the main character, John. He slowly pulled me into the story with a picture of how he felt and why. An interesting parable to the novel was the point of where a person mentally breaks down and gives up socially. Like a good metaphor, almost more important to an emotion as why someone else goes to the next extreme and murders. Also, I like the cover and title, intr
Aug 28, 2009 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Looked interesting when I was looking for books at the library to take on vacation. Not the psychological page turner I thought it would be. A drunken, rage filled man finds out that his father, a drunken, rage filled man who physically abused him, was murdered. Conflicted about how to feel, he turns to - surprise - drink and rage until he decides to overcome his hate and anger. It got tiresome, but the characters were pretty well drawn.
Oct 04, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
When I say that the mystery is really beside the point here, that's not a knock - Loehfelm gets a lot of fresh and interesting mileage out of how a death can start more things than it ends. John Sanders's journey is richly believable and a very moving exploration of the conflicts that emerge from grieving someone that you never really liked.
Sep 29, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok
Not a very exciting book. The author constantly uses pop culture references as a crutch to make the reader connect with the characters. It just gives you a feeling of the book being sponsored (Chapter 5 is brought to you by Starbucks). It's a quick read, but really just something to pass the time and not put any thought into.
Aug 12, 2008 Al rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-books
I really enjoyed this book - it was extremely well paced. Seems like a straight-up mystery/thriller, but there is a lot more to it. I think both men and women would appreciate it equally. I will definitely be on the hunt for his next book - I see that he now lives in New Orleans - I'd love to see his next book set there.
Rick Hocker
Jan 07, 2017 Rick Hocker rated it it was ok
I was unable to finish this book about a man whose abusive father had been mysteriously killed. He hated his father and wasn't sorry his father was dead. The author tried to create empathy for the protagonist but failed in my case. I kept waiting for something to happen in the story but it moved too slow for my taste.
May 18, 2009 Mia rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009
A very well rendered study of a character coming into a level of self-awareness that brings a particular world clearly and unsentimentally (and undisparagingly) into view. I know exactly who these people are. It's nice to see a frustrating but likable asshole become a little less of the last.
Oct 16, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
loved it. not usually a fan of male writers. i have fallen into the chick lit category. but loved it. loved the story. loved the ending.
lvoed that i knew insider information about staten island.
loved the staten island backdrop.
very enjoyable.
look forward to blood root.
Tim Hodges
Jan 23, 2015 Tim Hodges rated it really liked it
I didn't know anything about this story or the author when I picked up this book, but I ended up liking it very much. It's a hard story that will run you through a range of emotions. Only a talented author can do that.
Susan Chamberlain
Aug 11, 2011 Susan Chamberlain rated it liked it
I waited a long time to read this novel and felt sadly let down. I wanted to rage against the protagonist, son of a violent alcoholic who was blindly following his dad's footsteps. A wildly unexpected ending, though.
Feb 21, 2012 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It moves quickly but only encompasses a week's time. Leohfelm really explores the main character's relationship with his father, and you feel as though you're going through and feeling the same emotions. Great read.
Sep 25, 2008 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This one looks like a mystery/thriller, and while there is a death and quite a few thrills, it is really the story of a late coming of age. A very hopeful ending from a very tough beginning.
Mar 28, 2009 Karoni rated it liked it
I'd give it really a 3.5, but not rounding up to the full 4 here. Good mystery as well as right dose of drama.
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From the starred review in BOOKLIST for LET THE DEVIL OUT:

“Not only has Loehfelm created the most compelling, complex patrol cop in the genre—part take-no-prisoners badass, part too-sensitive-for-the street rookie—he has also re-energized New Orleans as a setting for the best in crime fiction, going well beyond the cliches … —edgy, dangerous, but pulsing with life. Maureen Coughlin is as good as i
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