Sunset Swing (City Blues Quartet Book 4) by Ray Celestin #Historical #CrimeFiction

IMG_0874 copyAuthor: Ray Celestin

Published: November 2021 by Mantle

Category: History, Crime, Fiction


A young nurse, Kerry Gaudet, travels to the City of Angels desperate to find her missing brother, fearing that something terrible has happened to him: a serial killer is terrorising the city, picking victims at random, and Kerry has precious few leads.

Ida Young, recently retired Private Investigator, is dragged into helping the police when a young woman is discovered murdered in her motel room. Ida has never met the victim but her name has been found at the crime scene and the LAPD wants to know why . . .

The City Blues Quartet started in New Orleans in 1919, took in Chicago in the 20s, New York in the 40s, now we’re in Los Angeles in the 60s and each time and place has been depicted vividly and atmospherically, incorporating real characters and events. I’ve loved these books and am sorry this is the final one, but I enjoyed very much catching up with those characters I was drawn to during the series.

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

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.


My Thoughts

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.

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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.

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Big City, Bad Blood

  • 179683Author: Sean Chercover
  • Published: January 2007 by William Morrow & Co
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • three-half-stars

A disillusioned newspaper reporter turned private detective, Ray Dudgeon isn’t trying to save the world. He just wants to do an honest job, and do it well. But when doing an honest job threatens society’s most powerful and corrupt, Ray’s odds for survival make for a sucker’s bet. . . .

While working on a movie in Chicago, Hollywood locations manager Bob Loniski saw something he shouldn’t have. Now he’s a prosecution witness against a suspected member of the Chicago Outfit. Petrified, he comes to Ray for protection. Ray’s mob contacts insist that they have no interest in Loniski, so he takes the bodyguard gig.

Then people start dying and everything goes to hell.


My Review

Bob Loniski is a Hollywood locations manager. After renting a warehouse for use in a movie set he finds out it’s part of a real estate scam run by the Chicago Mafia. Fearing for his life after he agrees to testify Bob engages the services of PI Ray Dudgeon as his bodyguard.

Ray Dudgeon is an ex newspaper reporter turned PI, a hard drinker who works to his own principles and ideals, and could be described as hard-boiled (a cliché, I know, but it fits) with a sensitive side. I like the way his back story is revealed as the story progresses. Philip Marlowe sprang to mind initially but I think there are a couple of others in there too.

A really good story, action packed with well developed and believable characters. Very atmospheric and gritty, the main part of the story takes place in Chicago and peripherally in Hollywood and Washington DC. Chicago’s seedier side is shown with corrupt officials and mobsters running things but also the vibrant, exciting side too and it’s very evident in the real and genuine descriptions of Chicago, the Mafia, the workings of Private Investigators and the Police, and the interaction between them, that the author knows an awful lot about what he writes. It’s a very apt title as the big city has an abundance of bad blood. There’s a very graphic torture scene that made my toes curl.

Although the bad guys are known from the beginning, following Ray as he does what he can to keep Loniski alive is full of tension and realism. I thought the supporting cast were well drawn, diverse and interesting. I only recently found Mr Chercover’s work when I listened to The Trinity Game, which I loved. This is completely different but still very enjoyable. I have Trigger City ready in my TBR pile.

For Nothing/Buffalo Soldiers ~ the books


  • 5108sabF8XL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_An Upstate New York Mafia Trilogy
  • Book 1 ~ For Nothing
  • Author: Nicholas Denmon
  • Published: June 2011 by CreateSpace 
  • Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Crime/Thriller/Suspense
  • four-stars

Undercover cop Alex Vaughn goes deeper than ever into the organized crime family of Buffalo, NY. Motivated by justice and revenge, he seeks out the assassin that laid his friend Jack low.

Professional killer Rafael Rontego traverses the deadly politics of Buffalo’s mafia underbelly. In a city whose winter can be just as deadly as those wielding power, Rontego tries to stay ahead of the game.

A Mafia crime thriller (my first) begins with a very graphic and descriptive scene of someone getting shot which drew me in immediately.  Not because it was a shooting, but because of the detail and the feelings it evoked. A very powerful and moving opening.

Alex Vaughn, a New York police officer, saw his friend’s murder and wants revenge.  Jack wanted Alex’s help and now he was dead. Alex goes undercover in order to infiltrate the crime family in Buffalo he believes responsible.

Rafael Rontego is the mafia’s cold and relentless hit man. He and Alex are on a collision course.

There’s lots of action, suspense and tension and the insight into the workings of the underworld is detailed and interesting, if somewhat scary. 

The chapters are written from the point of view of two characters, Alex and Rafael, which works well. The ending is a cliff hanger leading onto book two…

I was really surprised to learn this is a debut novel.  The details and descriptions make the story jump off the page, very visual and the characters are intriguing and decidedly believable.

  • 51WGMdVjkcL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-74,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Book 2 ~ Buffalo Soldiers
  • Released: April 2012
  • four-half-stars

Notorious assassin Rafael Rontego is kidnapped from his hotel room moments before FBI Agent Sydney Price and her team close in on the man she believes can provide enough evidence to bring down the Ciancetta crime family. As she chases down the prize of her investigation, she enlists help from former Buffalo undercover cop Alex Vaughn. The ensuing blood bath leads them on a trail that exposes corruption, terrorists, and the realization of their deepest fears.

Buffalo Soldiers is another action packed, bloody and tense tale of mafia and mobsters, following on from Nicholas Denmon’s debut novel, For Nothing.

It’s a complex tale, gritty, dark and sinister with really good character development. The action and tension start with the abduction of the assassin, Rafael Rontego and doesn’t let up until the final page. 

We’re introduced to FBI Agent Sydney Price, who is on Rontego’s trail because she believes, with his evidence, she can bring down the Ciancetta family.

Ivan Ninsky is another new character, just released from jail and sucked back into the murky world of  the mafia crime families, he does what he needs to do to stay alive. In his world that’s no easy task.

This is a well crafted story with credible characters who, although flawed, somehow still appeal.

I like to be able to visualise scenes in a story, the writing is very descriptive and evocative, quite graphic too, and so lends itself to visualisation very well. I also like the way the suspense is built with each chapter coming from a different character’s perspective.  Kept me guessing all the way!

Buy the books Amazon UK and Amazon US