Crime Scene



Crime Scene received the 2022 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry

Cynthia Pelayo sings a song for the least of us, the victim we want to forget as soon as possible, the one who disappeared before ever really appearing. With a fairy tale gaze and a heart bigger than the world, her siren song insinuates itself past our defenses, past the hardened calluses and apathy we’ve erected to protect ourselves from the everyday horror of another missing girl. 

Pelayo relates the familiar story, poem by poem; a body is found, a brutal crime investigated, clues take us in circles, and lead us nowhere. We are on an epic journey, the hero’s journey, and it must play out to the end in all its painful, ticking moments. Pelayo imbues her hero, Agent K, with the entirety of our dedication and that crumb of hope we’ve been hiding, saving for later. We will need to save for years, for decades, if we want to come out the other side. The job takes its toll, the answers are never complete and whys fracture, crack and spread. Still there is no turning away. We must bear witness, though it changes and contorts us.

What They’re Saying

“In Crime Scene, Cynthia Pelayo dips her quill in a secret wound of pain that not all writers are brave enough to explore. Unflinching and raw, Crime Scene is a harrowing exploration of human suffering and firmly establishes Pelayo as one of the most exciting and original poets working today.” —Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes

Crime Scene is a held breath without release or escape. Pelayo dissects our grimmest cultural obsessions and aims an unrelenting microscope at our tragedies and sins. There is lightning beneath this book’s skin. Harrowing to the last.” —Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth

“Just read Cynthia Pelayo’s Crime Scene in one sitting. This book rips true crime away from the fabulists and, with all the shock of a blood spatter, brings it back to the stark, lonely dead end it has always been.”—Daniel Kraus, The Ghost That Ate Us

“Few poets dig so deep into the dark heart of human suffering as Cynthia Pelayo, and I can think of no better example of her lyrical fearlessness than the epic narrative poem that is Crime Scene. Raw and uncompromising, Pelayo is, quite simply, one of the best and most important writers in the business.” —Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Sour Candy.

“Pelayo’s Crime Scene is undoubtedly the Odyssey of crime literature. Each poem unveils the darkest parts of human existence while seeking to understand the reasons behind those most evil impulses. The result is a beautiful, heartbreaking reckoning that lingers long after reading the final passage.” —Heather Levy, author of the Anthony nominated Walking Through Needles.