Crime Novel by Convicted Murderer Wins Award

January 17, 2014

Cuts Through Bone by Alaric Hunt won the Private Eye Writers of America $10,000 and publishing contract prize. Hunt, a convicted murderer and arsonist serving a life sentence since the late 1980’s, submitted the manuscript to the contest run by Minotaur Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press). When editor Toni Kirkpatrick phoned the number Hunt provided to inform him of his win, she was told he was “in an institution… indefinitely.” Andrew Martin, his publisher, told The New York Times, “he’s allowed to write. He’s allowed to submit. No one said he’s not allowed to publish. He’s not writing a memoir of the crimes and trying to make money off that.”

In 1988, Hunt and his brother plead guilty to charges of murder and arson when student Joyce Austin died of smoke inhalation resulting from fires they set in an attempt to cover up a jewelry store robbery. Of his crime, Hunt said, “What haunts me is not seeing beyond what I wanted and casually risking. That’s the act that defines me; That’s the act that defines me; something I didn’t do, but failed to do: consider. I killed Joyce Austin, and I killed my brother and myself. There’s a hole there that can’t ever fill up.”

Hunt wrote the first draft of the novel in five months longhand. According to journalist Sara Weinman, “He assembled the other elements of his novel from piecemeal glances of the outside world. He took cues for his version of New York, for example, from Law and Order episodes; a photocopy of a 1916 map of the boroughs; Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York; and novels he read set in the city.” Reviews of the book have been mixed. Publishers Weekly, unimpressed by the book, wrote that its “overblown prose… doesn’t help an unremarkable plot.” The book was published last May.


Source: The Guardian

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