The Mobster’s Lament (The City Blues Quartet #3) by Ray Celestin #Historical #CrimeFiction set in 1940s New York #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Ray Celestin

Performed by Christopher Ragland

Published: March 2019 by Whole Story Audiobooks

Category: Historical Fiction, Crime, Suspense, Thriller, Private Detective, Audiobook, Book Review

Fall, 1947. New York City.

Private Investigator Ida Davis has been called to New York by her old partner, Michael Talbot, to investigate a brutal killing spree in a Harlem flophouse that has left four people dead. But as they delve deeper into the case, Ida and Michael realize the murders are part of a larger conspiracy that stretches further than they ever could have imagined.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the series—The Axeman’s Jazz & Dead Man’s Blues—and The Mobster’s Lament was no exception. Set in post war New York where private investigator Ida Davies arrives to help her old friend and mentor, ex Pinkerton Michael Talbot.

Michael’s son Tom has been charged with multiple counts of murder and is destined for the electric chair, after a brutal massacre in the boarding house where he was staying. Prejudice and discrimination is widespread so being of African American lineage goes against him and his future looks very uncertain unless Ida and Michael can find enough evidence to prove his innocence.

Gabriel Leveson, night club manager and fixer for mob boss Frank Costello, wants out and is planning to disappear with his niece, until he gets called in by Costello to track down two million dollars of Mob money which has gone missing. As Gabriel navigates the dangers of the underworld a figure from his past forces him to scratch at the scabs of emotional scars. Time is running out for his plan to escape New York and he needs to keep his niece safe, even more in light of certain events. He has two choices—vengeance or flight.

‘The New York manipulator for Lucky Luciano, who visited him while he was held at Ellis Island for deportation, is Frank Costello. He is now the mightiest of the syndicate personnel, with an uncanny genius for mixing into highly important affairs with bigwigs in various spheres.’

Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer

New York Confidential 1948

Wonderful descriptions and writing create a totally believable scenario, with well defined and credible characters. Apart from Ida and Michael, there is  always one main character (the good, ‘bad’ guy) who is easy to like and engage with. 

The themes throughout the series are mobsters and music, specifically jazz, and underscored with corruption. Again, the contrast between the violence, the musicians, the far reaching tentacles of the mob are captured so well. Louis Armstrong, a childhood friend of Ida’s, is a recurring character. In this story Armstrong’s career is in decline, the audiences no longer fill the venues and the band is all but bankrupt. It’s the end of the big band era and many have been disbanded, but a promoter from New York holds out hope that Louis’ career can be turned around. 

After a few minutes, Louis appeared, walking down 59th. They grinned when they saw each other, hugged. They hadn’t seen one another in two and a half years, and Ida was glad to see that despite the troubles she’d heard her friend was in, it hadn’t affected his appearance, his smile or his manner. 

The Mobster’s Lament, like the previous stories, skilfully combine cameo appearances from real people and fictional characters in a tightly woven and imaginative plot packed with historical detail, the research evident, bringing 1940s New York to vibrant life. Steady pacing builds the tension perfectly and the atmosphere is enhanced by various quotes and news articles on the state of affairs at the time, leaving no doubt about the lawlessness of mob rule. Another captivating crime thriller.

Christopher Ragland’s narration gives a perfect representation of the characters.

About the Author

Ray Celestin is a novelist and screenwriter based in London. His debut novel, The Axeman’s Jazz, won the CWA New Blood Dagger for best debut crime novel of the year, and was featured on numerous ‘Books of the Year’ lists. His follow-up, Dead Man’s Blues, won the Historia Historical Thriller of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for a number of other awards, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year. The novels are part of a series – ‘The City Blues Quartet’ – which charts the twin histories of jazz and the mob through the middle 50 years of the twentieth century. The Mobster’s Lament is the third instalment in this series.

7 thoughts on “The Mobster’s Lament (The City Blues Quartet #3) by Ray Celestin #Historical #CrimeFiction set in 1940s New York #TuesdayBookBlog

      1. 550 pages!! Audio sounds like a good option. I have actually reached the stage where I prefer audio for most books. I can get more reading done that way, because I listen whilst doing other things.

        Liked by 1 person

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