Allesandra—a minor character from Boyle's critically acclaimed Gravesend—makes a cameo in this follow-up that unravels the story of Allesandra's ex-lover Amy, a woman in her 30s with a sordid past who witnesses a murder and finds herself drawn to the killer.
In William Boyle’s second novel, The Lonely Witness, he begins with an excellent premise and teases it out wonderfully, maximizing its potential. He integrates plot, character, and setting with calm assurance, and the result is a beautifully nuanced novel that has an unhurried but compelling narrative drive, a central character you are totally invested in, and a locale—the Gravesend neighborhood in Brooklyn—that does indeed function as a major character, interacting with and psychically affecting each and every person in the book ... Boyle draws as equally from what’s considered literary as he does from crime fiction ... And then, there’s his visual side—his ability to describe a location and evoke a mood from that description. Boyle knows the city he is writing about and how an act as simple as waiting for a subway train can produce deep melancholy ... The Lonely Witness is a novel that yields a number of pleasures, and I can’t think of a reason not to recommend seeking them out.
In The Lonely Witness, Boyle skillfully shows how crime fiction has the ability to explore what motivates people to choose their path in life ... The Lonely Witness offers an excellent sequel [to Gravesend] with a superb plot, matched by its realistically shaped characters.
Once a party girl, [the protagonist Amy] now lives a solitary existence, keeping her exotic tattoos well hidden while working odd jobs and doing penance by delivering Communion to the housebound. This remarkable discordance is riveting ... Amy elicits the same dark fascination as Sara Gran’s stellar neo-noir detective, Claire DeWitt ... [an] outstanding thriller.