The Devil’s Half Mile

Paddy Hirsch. Forge, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9913-7
Journalist Hirsch makes his fiction debut with a superb historical whodunit. In 1799, after four years studying law in Ireland, Justy Flanagan returns to Manhattan in search of the truth about the death of his father, Francis, a stock trader who reportedly hanged himself when Justy was 14. Convinced by new evidence that his father was murdered, Justy wants answers from William Duer, a “reckless speculator” and former ally of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who was Francis’s business partner before the 1792 financial crisis sent Duer to debtors’ prison. But when Justy goes looking for Duer in Manhattan’s New Gaol, he learns that his quarry is dead, and when he reunites with his uncle Ignatius, a powerful landowner who funded his education, he’s met with skepticism about his theory. Justy persists, nonetheless, and Hirsch effortlessly incorporates the political and economic background of the time into the mystery. Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham books will welcome this engrossing look at New York a half-century before that series. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, DeFiore and Co. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 05/22/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-9691-7
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