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Night Life (Michael Cassidy) by David C. Taylor (Read by  Keith Szarabajka)
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Blackstone Audio Audible Audio Edition  ISBN/ITEM#: B00USZGVK0
Date: 17 March 2015 List Price $24.47 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Twitter / Show Official Info /

A routine murder investigation in New York City turns out to be much more than it originally appears. Night Life, by Michael C. Taylor, is our world in 1954, complete with corrupt officials, communism hearings and a great plot and lead character.

The main character of Night Life is Michael Cassidy, who is a New York City police detective. Son of a Broadway producer, Cassidy and his partner, Tony Orso, are called to a murder scene. The victim, tied to a chair and tortured, is movie-star hansom. His furniture and clothes are much nicer than the neighborhood where he lived. Cassidy figures that the victim had either pissed off somebody, or he had some item or some information that somebody wanted. The autopsy revealed that the victim died of cardiac arrest, and Cassidy figures that whatever info he was being tortured for, was not obtained and the victim died too soon.

Research into the murder reveals that the victim was an actor, so Cassidy goes to the dance captain at his father's theater for information and finds the man was a dancer in his father's show. During an illegal locker search, Cassidy finds a coin taped to the back wall of the locker, and pockets it because he figures it is part of the reason for the torture. Cassidy pulls his contacts and finds out very quickly that the victim was in possession of some photos, and that someone else very powerful is also trying to find them. The FBI becomes involved in the case, and Cassidy and Orso are reassigned. Then the mystery expands, as Cassidy is beaten up and several other murders occur. Cassidy is still not sure what the photos are about nor whom the other party is that wants them.

The plot really thickens when Cassidy's father is arrested for immigration violations. Earlier in the story, Cassidy and Orso were making a routine arrest that interfered with a parked car trying to leave its space. One of the passengers of the car told Cassidy to let them leave, but Cassidy said police business took priority. It turns out the passenger was Roy Cohn, who was the Attorney for Senator McCarty during the communism hearings. Cassidy has to run around and solve all the various ends and also rescue his father.

New York City is rough and tumble in 1954. Cassidy and his partner are honest cops, but the boundaries of propriety were much wider then than today. Early in the novel, Cassidy finds another detective torturing a prostitute, who happens to be one of the whores in the prostitution ring he is running, and throws him out a window. Orso carries around a newspaper and casually pats suspicious people on the back in a friendly gesture, except that the newspaper has a metal pipe inside. Cassidy and Orso are told to drop the murder and torture case, but they persist.

The glimpse into 1954 is great too. The McCarthy hearings were before my time, but they are very much a part of everyday life to the people in the story. I am a veteran of the Cold War, but I served near the end in the 1980s, and my perspective of the Cold War is very different than this. Roy Cohn as a character and him taking revenge on Cassidy is a great twist. Most of the main characters are also veterans of World War II. That makes sense for the 1950s, and certainly shapes the mindset of the time. By my service time, most were Vietnam veterans, and the perspective of the world and the military were very different.

Night Life is the best book I have read in a while. The author's style flows, and all the storylines and characters gel together quickly. Taylor captures the attitude and environment of the times without any caricatures or overstatement. I really like Michael Cassidy and I understand his world is not as politically correct as the one we live in today. I highly recommend the book and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

NOTE: Book is also available as a hardcover and in Kindle edition.

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