Publisher: Alibi/Random House, August 12, 2014
As you know, I love a good mystery. I especially love a smart detective=style mystery whether he/she is a professional or an amateur. That’s exactly what I found in this brand-new novel. Jake Donovan and his loyal friends are smart and savvy and eager to take on all the bad guys. Here’s the summary of the story:
In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.
This is one of the best detective stories I’ve read in quite a while. I was seduced by Jake Donovan within the first few pages. Jake is both the narrator and star of the story. He has a witty, sarcastic attitude, and he brags while at the same time being a bit self-deprecating. He’s very loyal to his old friends and they to him. He also wears his heart on his sleeve for his life-long love, Laura. The reader can’t help but hope for the best for these two.
The plot is full of surprises and lots of twists and turns. At first I thought this was going to be one of those regular solve-the-murder mysteries. Within a few chapters clues began to unfold and the story turned into a much bigger and better one. Jake suddenly finds himself with a case involving a national conspiracy that could endanger the Roosevelt government. I’m not going to say more as I’ll spoil it for you. I will tell you that it was a real OMG moment for me and it kept me glued to the book until the end.
The author obviously did a ton of research to pull off such a believable story. He fit in actual events that were happening at the time. However, I think he occasionally went a bit too far when it came to real people. This is my only criticism. I was okay with the inclusion of the Dashiel Hammett character. After all, they were both writers. But Jake being the inspiration for a Cole Porter song and new Broadway show? It just didn’t “sit” with me.
In spite of that little complaint, I loved this novel. All of the characters are people I liked spending time with. Fortunately, Yankee Club is the first book in an upcoming series. That’s good news. It’ll give me a chance to spend more time with Jake and Laura and, hopefully, Gino and the rest of the gang.
I highly recommend Yankee Club by Michael Murphy.