I’ve loved this series and am looking forward to the fourth book which is due in November. The stories chart the history of jazz and the mafia during the middle years of the 20th century.
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 agent, 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.
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.
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.
New York, 1947.
Mob fixer Gabriel Leveson’s plans to flee the city are put on hold when he is tasked with tracking down stolen mob money by ‘the boss of all bosses’, Frank Costello. But while he’s busy looking, he doesn’t notice who’s watching him . . .
Meanwhile, Private Investigator Ida Young and her old partner, Michael Talbot, must prove the innocence of Talbot’s son Tom, who has been accused of the brutal murders of four people in a Harlem flophouse. With all the evidence pointing towards him, their only chance of exoneration is to find the killer themselves.
Whilst across town, Ida’s childhood friend, Louis Armstrong, is on the brink of bankruptcy, when a promoter approaches him with a strange offer to reignite his career . . .
Both a gripping neo-noir crime novel and a vivid, panoramic portrait of New York, The Mobster’s Lament takes you to the heart of a city where the Mob has risen to the height of its powers . . .New York, 1947.