James Casto, December 29, 2011 (view all comments by James Casto)
The opening paragraph of "Tabloid City" introduces the reader to Sam Briscoe, the gruff 71-year-old editor of the last afternoon newspaper in New York. As he enters the paper’s city room, Briscoe doesn’t know it, but he’s on the threshold of the worst 24 hours of his life. Briscoe is aware that his paper is on life support. What he doesn’t realize when we first meet him is that this day’s edition will be its last. The paper’s young, wet-behind-the-ears owner is pulling the plug. But as Briscoe struggles to come to terms with the paper’s death notice, there comes an even more traumatic blow. He learns that one of the two victims in a Greenwich Village slayings is Cynthia Harding, a wealthy socialite who for years has been, aside from his grown daughter, the only woman in his life. In chronicaling the events of the next 24 hours, veteran newspaperman Pete Hamill has given us a gritty snapshot of New York and a tribute to the journalists who cover the city’s dark corners,
gaby317, May 5, 2011 (view all comments by gaby317)
A violent crime draws together a cast of characters that find themselves interconnected in other ways. The crime, the intertwined social network, and these unusual characters give us an unsentimental picture of New York during the recession. We meet:
* Lew Forrest of the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, an aging and successful painter who has lost his sight. His closest companion is Camus, a black labrador;
* Cynthia Harding of Greenwich Village, a socialite particularly committed to the New York City libraries and literacy. Her longtime lover is Sam Briscoe of the New York World;
* Sandra Gordon, whose precociousness at a dinner party in Jamaica drew the attention, sympathy, and mentorship of Cynthia Harding. From children's books to a passport and education, Cynthia helped Sandra find her place;
* Sam Briscoe, the editor of New York World, the last afternoon newspaper in New York and a fixture in journalism circles;
* Bobby Fonseca, a young journalist, who lives and breathes his work;
* Ali Watson of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a New York City homicide detective;
* Malik Shahid, a young New Yorker turned religious fanatic/fundamentalist;
* Josh Thompson, a veteran from the wars in the Middle East who has lost his home and his family and is on the streets of New York;
* Beverly Starr, an artist from Gowanus, Brooklyn;
* Consuelo Mendoza, an illegal immigrant from Mexico living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; and
* Myles Compton, a hedgefund manager whose bad investments and shady dealings lead him to abscond in the night.
While each of the personalities are carefully constructed, I was particularly drawn to the women who are given central roles in the novel. Sandra Gordon is a secondary character but her strength, independence and vulnerability all come across so clearly. The interaction between the aging and nearly blind painter Lew Forrest and his long lost muse, Consuelo Mendoza is particularly touching. Even the socialite Cynthia Harding who only appears briefly is complex and fleshed out. Through a high profile murder and its aftermath, Tabloid City gives a fascinating and unsentimental glimpse of today's New York.
ISBN-10: 0316020753 - Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 5, 2011), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Little Brown and Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Hamill (North River) forays into Dominic Dunne society crime territory before veering uncomfortably into a far-fetched terrorist plot. Just as the last ever edition of the New York World is getting put to bed, veteran editor Sam Briscoe stops the presses for a sensational murder: socialite Cynthia Harding and her personal secretary are found stabbed to death in Harding's Manhattan town house. The story unfolds in time-stamped, you-are-there bursts that follow a large cast, including several journalists; Cynthia's adopted daughter; a disgraced Madoff-like financier; a media blogger; the murdered secretary's husband, a police officer assigned to a counterterrorism task force, as well as their son, a convert to radical Islam; and best of all by the weary and worldly Briscoe himself. Hamill is at his best in the Briscoe portions, rich in print anecdotes and mournful for a passing age, but as both the initial murders and the closing of the paper play into a larger plot and the young extremist becomes the driving force of the novel, the quality slides precipitously, and, as if sensing defeat, the book is brought to a too abrupt conclusion with most of the principals gathered for a group of scenes that strain credulity. Hamill nails the dying newsroom, but gets lost on the terrorism beat. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
In a stately West Village town house, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity surrounds their shocking deaths:
The head of one of the city's last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.
The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent carnival, or a palimpsest of memories--a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times. As much a thriller as it is a gripping portrait of the city of today, Tabloid City is a new fiction classic from the writer who has captured New York perfectly for decades.
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