Evening's Empire

The Story of My Father's Murder


By Zachary Lazar

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 10, 2010. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

When he was just six years old, Zachary Lazar’s father, Edward, was shot dead by hit men in a Phoenix, Arizona parking garage. The year was 1975, a time when, according to the Arizona Republic, “land-fraud artists roamed the state in sharp suits, gouging money from buyers and investors.” How did his father fit into this world and how could his son ever truly understand the man, his time and place, and his motivations?

In Evening’s Empire, Zachary Lazar, whose novel Sway was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, and other publications, brilliantly attempts to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to his father’s murder.

How did Ed Lazar, a fun-loving but meticulous accountant, become involved in a multi-million dollar real-estate scandal involving politicians and Mafia figures? How much did he know about his colleagues’ illegal activities? Why had he chosen to testify against his former business partner, Ned Warren, Sr.? Warren was “a mystery man,” according to 60 Minutes, widely known as “the Godfather of land fraud.”

The day before Ed Lazar was scheduled to appear in front of a grand jury he was killed in a “gangland-style murder,” as reported by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. Four hundred mourners attended a memorial service for him the next day. Evening’s Empire is based on archival research and interviews — introducing a cast of characters as various as Senator Barry Goldwater and Cesar Romero — and is clarified by scenes imagined in the context of this evidence. It is a singular and haunting story of American ambition and its tragic cost.

Of Zachary Lazar’s previous book, Sway, the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review wrote, “This brilliant novel is about what’s to be found in the shadows.” The same can be said of Evening’s Empire’s true story, but here the shadows are very close to home.


  • "An incandescent masterpiece. . . . Lazar has managed an amazing feat--to evoke both Joan Didion's fierce intelligence and Truman Capote's eerie ability to enter into the unknown."
    Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
  • "Evening's Empire is a fascinating take on a time and a place, built from the inside out by a conspicuously interested party, as entertaining and evocative as could be, like a Scorsese movie, only richer, more thrilling for the memoir-like underpinnings."
    Frederick Barthelme, author of Doubledown
  • "Zachary Lazar has written a gripping book of unexpected beauty. In Evening's Empire, he remorselessly examines the ambiguous nature of both the shady deal and the good life. His analytic impulses soar with breathtaking imaginative leaps."
    Christopher Sorrentino, author of Trance
  • "Evening's Empire is a remarkable work of non-fiction in which reporting and imaginative empathy combine. Lazar's story of the murder of his father is spooky, sharply-focused, loving, beautiful, and richly redolent of a recent America now vanished into the past."
    Ian Frazier, author of Family
  • "Although Evening's Empire is categorized as both memoir and true crime, much of the book reads as a novel. . . .The multiplication of Warren's intrigues and a cumulative sense of doom supply its narrative drive."
    Laura Miller, Salon.com
  • "Reveals a writer with emotional heft, tight prose, and searing insights into the complexities of a criminal world that must have looked pretty harmless--until it suddenly wasn't."
    Michael Miller, BookForum
  • "The style is gorgeous--understated, precise, atmospheric. Like a pointillist painter, Lazar gives us vivid dots that are all the more powerful because we have to do the work or connecting them."
    Joan Wickersham, The Los Angeles Times
  • "Remarkable...a brave book, a project that promised to pay off its author in pain....via his effort [he] achieves a literary catharsis."
    John Anderson, Newsday
  • "A brilliantly conceived, genre-bending story that features taut, exquisite prose."
    Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker
  • "Evening's Empire is an artful exercise in reportorial chiaroscuro."
    Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

On Sale
Nov 10, 2010
Page Count
256 pages
Back Bay Books

Zachary Lazar

About the Author

Zachary Lazar‘s previous novel, Sway (Little, Brown), was chosen as a Best Book of 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, and his memoir, Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder (Little, Brown), was named a Best Book of 2009 in the Chicago Tribune. Lazar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. He lives in New Orleans, where he is on the creative writing faculty at Tulane University.

Learn more about this author