Tuesday, August 2, 2016
About the Book
On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.
Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.
Do the biggest crimes occur when the biggest events are happening? This story certainly gives merit to the idea. It's summer 1976 and preparations are in full swing for the Fourth of July Bicentennial celebration. Tall-mast ships from all over the world are descending upon New York City for this once-in-a-lifetime event. From a PR standpoint, the cops, the media, they all know they need to make the city look like a fun and happy place. But what if the underground criminal element doesn't agree?
A few days before it's all set to go down, a body is found beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Almost immediately, the murder is hushed up since a whole lot of drugs are taped to the woman's corpse. The NYPD assumes it's likely the Chinese sending a message to the Mafia (since the mob supposedly doesn't kill women and children), as they battle for control of the city's narcotics trade. No one in charge wants word of this getting out until after the festivities are over. They can't afford for a drug war to erupt in the middle of everything, compromising the safety of the millions, attending the event.
The book lays out one cardinal rule when it comes to crime in New York City—it usually occurs when the sun goes down. So things get even crazier when hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry is stolen right out of the Empire State Building—in broad daylight. A flock of reporters literally run to the scene, giving the cops no chance to cover it up. And just when things can't get any hairier, the situation almost spirals out of control when the Coast Guard is forced to intervene after gunshots are fired and a boat explodes on the water across the harbor in Newark. Yet strangely enough, the next day, nothing manages to make it into the papers about it.
I liked the parallels that were drawn to the present day. In 1976, there are bombings in Boston. There's discord with Russia. There's a strong racist element among those in power. And there's a presidential election, looming in the fall. When you look back, in some ways, the United States wasn't so different than it is today, which is alternately scary and comforting, depending on how you look at it.
In the current age of terrorism and gun violence (by and against) police, it's interesting to compare 1976 with 2016 and wonder just how much is going on that we don't know about. The only thing is that now camera phones are beginning to change the story, shining a light on things that authority figures would much rather keep us in the dark about.
And that's what great storytelling, like this book, gets us to do—think, look beyond the surface and question the status quo.
A Black Sail can be pre-ordered at:
Barnes and Noble
Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Release: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Camel Press
Click to add to your Goodreads list.
About the Author
Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).
The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.
"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.
Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.
In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction.
Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.
Links to connect with Rich:
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Posted by Carol Robart at 12:01 AM