Polis Books, PB, $14.95, 291 pages, ISBN 978-1-940610-40-5
Welcome! This is the Mysterious Book Report, a weekly column where we talk about, analyze and feature books and authors dealing with Mysteries, Crime Fiction and an occasional Sci-Fi or Supernatural Thriller. We’re going to discuss the latest in Spy Novels, dysfunctional, but brilliant detectives and all sorts of private eyes, shady lawyers, amateur sleuths and OMG she’s beautiful but tough as a broken heart, lady shamuses too. And, hey—lest there’s confusion—these reviews will not only be of best-selling writers like James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Denise Mina, and Sue Grafton but also exciting new authors—unfamiliar names—like Wallace Stroby, Kim Zupan, Julia Dahl, Paula Hawkins, Urban Waite, and this week’s debut author . . . Rob Hart. Our goal with every MBR is to encourage reading, find your NEXT most favorite author and keep you away from the Tee-Vee, pool hall and mass market paperback racks at the supermarket. So welcome to the Mysterious Book Report. Grab your reading glasses, a cup of your favorite adult beverage and the shift lever of that oh-so-comfy barcalounger and get ready for a walk on the dark and seamy side of human behavior . . . deep in the underbelly of society. Take this week’s novel for example:
New Yorked, by Rob Hart is a first novel from an author whose dialogue is so smokin’ hot it leaves the page glowing in the dark. He reeled me in on page one, in the first paragraph, when the protagonist—Ash McKenna—wakes up after a night of binge drinking, disoriented from a massive hangover and says, “My blood weeps for nicotine,” as he tries to find his cigarettes and stumble into a new and heartbreaking, complex day. He’s mourning the death of his father, a New York City fireman who answered the call on Nine-Eleven and died when the towers went down. Ash is angry. He’s angry because New York is changing. It’s becoming a place where only rich yuppies can afford to live because the “gents,” gentrifiers, are moving in, buying properties and raising rents to levels that only persons with medium six-figure salaries can afford. On top of his anger are alcoholic blackouts—like the one he awoke with—when he can’t remember where he was or what he did the night before. When he gets himself together enough to listen to his voicemails . . . he hears a desperate call for help from Chell, the woman he loves who rejected him . . . and learns she’s been murdered. Grief turns into rage, and Ashley McKenna becomes a human wrecking ball, hunting for her killer with the grace of an M-80 Abrams Tank, smashing through the underbelly of the city he loves but no longer recognizes, seeking a redemption that no longer exists. Compelling, dark, gritty, heartbreaking, noirish and sadly romantic, New Yorked is a paean to lost love and at the same time a requiem for a disappearing way of life. Rob Hart is now on my list of authors to watch for, read and pay attention to after this impressive debut that will charm and entertain all noir and crime fiction enthusiasts.