Just in case you’re wondering, we’ll be re-running some of our best and most popular book reviews every other week from now on.  They will be described as our Legacy Mysterious Book Reports.  Send us a quick request if you have a favorite that you’d like to see again and we’ll do our best to re-publish it.

Legacy Mysterious Book Report No. 16

Published February 10, 2020

Hudson’s Kill

Mysterious Book Report No. 389

by John Dwaine McKenna

Although they’re few and far between . . . “Rare as hen’s teeth,” as my old Irish mother used to say . . . some authors show early on in their careers that they are on the way to literary greatness, and destined to leave a wordsmith’s mark on the world.  Writer Paddy Hirsch is such a one.  And now, less than twelve months after his electrifying debut, The Devil’s Half Mile, (MBR No. 352, 01 Nov ’18) comes his second historical thriller:  Hudson’s Kill, (Forge, $25.99, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-9916-8).

Hudson’s Kill begins in the year 1803, at the burgeoning, lawless and deadly southern tip of Manhattan Island, where the city of New York is developing it’s master plan for how the metropolis will be laid out and built.  The city is teeming with speculators, schemers and scalawags of every type known to the human race, each of whom are trying to outdo the others in grabbing the most real estate riches.  In addition, there’s the usual allotment of corrupt officials, thugs, criminals, killers, con artists,  gang leaders, rapists and thieves . . . as well as all of the rapacious stock, bond, and commodities traders who frequent the Tontine Coffee House, where they buy and sell all day long.

New York’s a miasma of social, political and financial tensions, to which racial unrest must also be added, for slavery was legal at the time in New York, (it was not abolished until 1827,) and all of the factions are battling for control of the city.

Against that unstable and highly charged background of social unrest, a young woman of color is found stabbed to death in an alley.  A mere girl, barely in her teens, her murder sets serial characters Kerry O’Toole, a schoolteacher, one-time pickpocket and courtesan . . . along with City Marshall Justy Flannagan, a former Fenian, Irish rebel and émigré  to America . . . on divergent paths, but with the same goal: find the person who did it.  Kerry goes undercover, while Justy uses all the powers of his office to bring the perpetrator to the gallows.  It’s a dark and dangerous undertaking that will lead them both to the same reclusive colony of criminal religionists who are hiding in plain sight in the area known as Hudson’s Kill. “There, they uncover a craven political conspiracy bound up with a criminal enterprise stunning in its depravity,” according to the liner notes, and the MBR could not have said it better.

Hudson’s Kill establishes Paddy Hirsch in the forefront of current thriller writers with it’s compelling prose and kinetic plot, as well as its dynamic and skillful storytelling that will educate and entertain all whodunnit lovers . . . while leaving them thinking that the next installment of this outstanding series can’t come soon enough !

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