City of Lies-R.J. Ellory

City of Lies
R.J. Ellory
Overlook, Oct 31 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9781590204658

Almost a decade has passed since former New Yorker John Harper wrote his only novel Depth of Fingerprints. In the interim, he stopped drinking and stopped believing while becoming a Miami reporter who started many things but finished nothing.

Drifting through life, his aunt notifies John that someone shot his father Edward “Lenny” Bernstein when he intervened during a hold-up. He is stunned with the revelation because he was told his father died before he was born and his mom committed suicide. No longer an orphan John returns to New York; home of his horrid childhood, to visit the father he never knew on the comatose man’s deathbed. NYPD Detective Frank Duchaunak orders Harper to leave town for his safety while the cop lingers at the hospital hoping for a breakthrough to nail Bernstein for financing mob activity. His aunt informs her nephew that her brother was a mobster while Bernstein’s top adviser Walt Freiburg tells Harper to stick around town using Cathy Hollander as the lure.

City of Lies is a strong crime drama starring a person with childhood demons that still haunt him as an adult. John makes the exciting storyline work with his obsessive need to know whether his father was a mobster and if his mother killed herself superseding his fear of becoming a hit victim. Readers will appreciate this deep noir while rooting for the protagonist to outwit the mob and the cop as he seeks his gene tree truth.

Harriet Klausner

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