Mayhem: Unanswered Questions About the Tsarnaev Brothers, the US Government, and the Boston Marathon Bombing

Steerforth. Apr. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781586422615. $17. CRIME
The Boston Marathon bombing shocked the American public in 2013, and the following days searching for the perpetrators terrified citizens of Massachusetts and surrounding states. McPhee (Operation Mean Streets) has crafted a meticulously researched account of brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who were responsible for the attacks, and the agencies that hunted them. McPhee dutifully lays out the story, including the facts concealed from the public following the bombing—Tamerlan’s work as an FBI informant, the murders he may have committed two years before the bombing, the FBI’s reluctance to work with local police, the evidence of a third accomplice, and more. Occasionally, McPhee’s prose slips into conspiracy and conjecture, but she emphasizes that these ideas are merely possibilities. The book is invaluable, compiling many first-person accounts—predominantly interviews gathered by McPhee during coverage of the bombings and manhunt—and some of the details are highly graphic.
VERDICT Thriller fans and readers who enjoy learning about FBI cover-ups or acts of domestic terrorism will devour this work.
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