Thomas Kelly, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-14781-5

Construction was started on the Empire State Building on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1930. It was just as the Depression was beginning to squeeze America in its death grip and every job was sacred. Kelly, who created first-rate working-class heroes in Payback and The Rackets , takes a fascinating look at how New York City was run at the end of the Jazz Age—by bribe, kickback and political machination. The characters are tough and vengeful: Michael Briody, steelworker, WWI vet, IRA gunman; Johnny Farrell, a "narrowback" lawyer who functions as the mayor's bagman; Grace Masterson, a beautiful painter who lives on a houseboat on the East River, holds dark secrets and counts both Briody and Farrell as lovers; and Egan, the governor's dour henchman. Historical figures of the time round out the cast: FDR, the governor of New York, making sure that nothing will hinder him on the way to the White House; Mayor James J. (Jimmy) Walker, a dapper rogue and master practitioner of "honest graft"; Judge Joseph Force Crater, stooge of Tammany, destined to be eclipsed in a legendary way; and Al Smith, the "Happy Warrior," a political has-been now in charge of the construction of the world's tallest building. Kelly weaves a fascinating tale that captures the cadences and decadence of art deco New York, where desperate working-class have-nots and powerful elite swells collide violently in a nation on the brink of great change. Agent, Nat Sobel at Sobel Weber Associates. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 390 pages - 978-0-312-42574-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3446-8
Hardcover - 704 pages - 978-0-7862-7348-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3445-1
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