I don't read thrillers, and I especially don't read thrillers with police as heroes, but I read "Night Life" non-stop, and when it was over, I cheered. And when it was nominated for a Hugo Award --- not the sort of thing that happens to debut novels --- I cheered again. What didn't David C. Taylor know about 1953? Nothing. (Read more about "Night Life" here.)
When we left Michael Cassidy, the rich boy turned incorruptible cop, at the end of "Night Life," he had survived a handful of nasty and potentially life-ending scrapes with the likes of J. Edgar Hoover, some dangerous right wing patriots, the usual cadre of corrupt cops and the Russians. Oh, and there was a woman of interest, last seen leaving the Waldorf on New Year's Eve.
Michael Cassidy returns in "Night Work." Now it's December, 1958, and he's got a Cuban killer to transport from New York to Havana. A simple assignment? Think again, to "Godfather 2," and all that happened in Havana on New Year's Eve of that year. Well, Cassidy will be in the thick of that. And there will be a woman, and some unsentimental soldiers and equally unsentimental revolutionaries, and a corrupt Senator from Florida --- what a surprise! --- and, not least, Fidel Castro. (To read most of the first chapter, click here.)
And then there's the New York story, which begins like this: "The dead man sat on a wooden kitchen chair just inside the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park." Who he is, and what he's doing there, and how he connects to the rich people who live just off Fifth --- that's going to require some great detective work. You'll want to pay attention to the well-dressed cop, and the woman we last saw in Havana, and another woman, very hot, who also made an appearance in Havana. And... but you see where this is going: into one of those tight plots that makes you think one thing, then another --- and has you reading deep into the night.
You'll learn a lot in these pages. Why the revolutionaries should have someone walking point, and what happens if someone forgets. How "you can be on the right side and still be beaten, force can defeat ideals, courage is not always rewarded." Why dirty deeds are mostly done at night. Why the first cigarette is the best cigarette of the day.
And the dialogue!
The Deputy Chief of police asks Cassidy: "Who'd you vote for in fifty-six?"
The answer: "Mickey Mantle."
And: "You're a bright boy, aren't you, Cassidy?"
The answer: "That's what my mother always told me, and she was as objective as a mother can be."
A cop's toast: "To crime."
And sentences like this, about a society woman: "She looked bright, fresh, and clean, as if she had just been taken out of the box."
I could tell you more, but I'd just harsh the thrills. Start with "Night Life." Go right on to "Night Work." And then wait impatiently for David C. Taylor's third Cassidy novel.
[Cross-posted from HeadButler.com]