Crime-fiction librarian Ray Ambler gets more than he bargained for when he acquires the archives of a controversial hardboiled crime author in this contemporary twisty mystery set in New York City.
Hardboiled crime writer Will Ford might be critically acclaimed, but he's every bit as drunken and disreputable as the ne'er-do-well private eye in his novels. So when Ford offers Raymond Ambler - crime-fiction curator at New York City's prestigious 42nd Street Library - a collection of his papers, Ambler wonders if the project will be more trouble than it's worth. Still, the disgraced author is an important talent, and Ambler's never been afraid of a fight.
Ambler's ready for the controversy that greets news of the acquisition. He's not ready, however, for what he finds when he finally receives the papers: a gripping unpublished short story apparently based on a real case, with an explosive author's note. If it's true, there's been a shocking coverup at the heart of the NYPD - and a cop has got away with murder.
If it's true. Ford's not talking, and Ambler's good friend Mike Cosgrave, a veteran NYPD homicide detective, is beyond skeptical. But as the pair investigate, they're drawn into the sordid underbelly of 1990s New York, packed with pimps, thugs and mobsters . . . and they'll be lucky to come back out alive.
Gritty and fast-paced, this story of police corruption, murder and mayhem is a great choice for fans of traditional mysteries with complex plotting, atmospheric settings and red herrings a plenty!
Lehane's intriguing fourth 42nd Street Library mystery (after 2019's Murder Off the Page) finds librarian Ray Ambler curating a collection of papers by influential mystery author Will Ford for the New York Public Library's Crime Fiction Collection. Among Ford's papers, Ray discovers an unpublished short story about a triple murder over a drug deal. Curious, Ray does some research and finds that Ford's story is the same in every particular to an actual 1990s-era murder—except for one important detail. In real life, the murderer confessed and went to prison. In Ford's story, the real killer got away scot-free. Which was true, the story or the newspaper account? Ford's not talking, so Ray asks his friend, NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove, to look into it. But as soon as Mike starts asking questions, people start dying. When Mike himself becomes a target, the task of finding the real killer becomes personal for Ray. Memorable prose ("Ray stayed in the background pretending he was doing something on his computer—like the guy in the old mystery movies who had his ear pressed against the door and fell into the room when the inspector yanked it open") helps make up for the dense and increasingly complicated plot. Those with a taste for noir lite will want to check this out.