Books by Ken Gross

Released: March 1, 2003

"Entertaining, informative, and shrewdly perceptive."
Breezy, upbeat memoir from the impresario who produced Broadway musicals like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can, as well as the film version of Cabaret. Read full book review >
Released: May 13, 1997

Some people are born to knuckle under. Paralegal Peggy O'Neill, who took her husband Mickey's abuse for years before she made herself such a nuisance that he divorced her, allows her boss to bully her into appearing on The Kevin Grant Show and chat about Mickey. And just in case the facts aren't enough (and they won't be: Peggy is such a mope that she makes almost no impression on the glazed host), production assistant Gary Lock has a suggestion: Peggy can tell the audience that she got even with Mickey by taking a lover. It isn't true, but Mickey sees the show, runs out in a frenzy of rage and humiliation to Peggy's office, and drags her out into his car. Now Lt. Maggie Van Zandt, head of Manhattan's North Homicide Command, has a Central Park corpse mutilated beyond identification and a handbag of Peggy's found in a trash bin nearby. Should she be looking for Mickey? No, because—as Gross (Full Blown Rage, 1995, etc.) has already shown—Mickey's dead, killed by Peggy after he forced her to help him kill that drifter in the park. Now Peggy can think of only one thing: destroying everyone connected to the TV show that effectively ended her life. And this woman who's never shown a spark of gumption is turning into one of the slyest avengers imaginable . . . A lively tale that packs more than its share of twists before settling into the inevitable mano a mano between Maggie and her prey. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1995

Gross takes time out from his series about ex-cop Jack Mann and weather forecaster Bonnie Hudson (A High Pressure System, 1994, etc.) to introduce a new heroine: Lt. Maggie Van Zandt, head of Manhattan North Detective Command. Shocked and grief- stricken when her friend Cissy Stone kills herself after getting word that she's HIV-positive, Maggie throws herself into solving the stabbing of Random House editor Edie Severance—who could've been killed by her boss, her lover, or the lover's husband—and the suspiciously neat murder-suicide of an East Side lawyer and his wife. Even as she painfully begins to read the journal Cissy was keeping in the last weeks of her life and gets to know the last man Cissy was involved with, we can already see her biggest case raging under her nose: Eric Miller, a lab technician who's been infected with HIV by a slip of the finger, has embarked on a mission to dramatize the plight of ``innocent'' AIDS victims. His plan: to infect dozens or hundreds of equally innocent victims, starting with casual pickup Prof. Laurie Drake and ending, if necessary, with Maggie Van Zandt. Not as densely imagined as Jack and Bonnie's adventures, but professionally textured and propulsive, with a particularly attractive heroine. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

Queens Borough President John Fasio is finally taking the cue from his manipulative assistant Murray Gerber and allowing himself to stand for the New York mayor's job when the current mayor resigns to run for governor. Fey weathercaster Bonnie Hudson (Hell Bent, 1992, etc.), impoverished by a five-minute fling in Atlantic City, has gone back to work for her old boss Harvey Levy, who's busy funneling campaign contributions to Fasio in hopes of leapfrogging to the head of the Queens cable-franchise line. Bonnie's ex-roommate, ex-cop Jack Mann, is working for an agency tailing Murray Gerber for an unnamed client. Obviously all these intrigues have something to do with each other, and watching them all come together with a kind of skittish majesty is a joy to behold. Gross's panorama of back-room Gotham politics is so exuberant that Jack and Bonnie's routine investigation of the inevitable homicides, when the plot finally kicks in, comes as something as a letdown: you wish these guys could go on stabbing each other in the back, like Dante's sinners, for all eternity. Read full book review >
HELL BENT by Ken Gross
Released: June 1, 1992

Once upon a time, retired New York cop Jack Mann (Rough Justice, 1991; A Fine Line, 1989) and IRA fellow-traveler Nora Burns had a chance to help themselves to $3 million of Mafia money. Now the mob- -unimpressed that Nora's used the money to run an orphanage for victims of Irish violence—comes after the money, setting off a deadly game of chases and betrayals. Using his sick old partner Moe Berger to flush Jack out of Ireland, mob cops Vinnie Manero and Rocco Valone plan to kidnap Nora's son Seamus to force her to give up the loot. But Jack chases back just in time to barge in on the kidnapping, turning it into a murder that leaves Nora coldly bent on avenging Seamus by using her brother Michael, an IRA assassin hiding in New York, to get at Don Daniello Iennello, the capo who's after the money. Michael, meanwhile, has ideas of his own: He's using Don Daniello's help in his plan to kill everybody at the Academy Awards banquet at the Waldorf. So as the mob and the Garda—the two crooked Manhattan cops joined by Inspector Timothy McCormick and Officer Mattie Nolan, two visiting Irish cops, for a total of four rogue officers all out to get each other—bear down on Nora, she's hounding Michael to help her get a clear shot at the big guy, and wondering whether Michael isn't out to get her as well. The only flaw in this intricate weave of counterplots is that top plotting honors go to stolid Jack and his invincibly cute weather- forecaster lover Bonnie Hudson (``Hey, it's only weather''), who improbably manage to foil all the plotters who haven't killed each other off before the climax. First-rate melodrama, with just enough resonance to make you see how far out past their depth Jack and Bonnie are. Read full book review >

Jack Mann, the decent, fallible NY cop last seen retired in A Fine Line (1989), races in this prequel to save the life of D.A. (and aspiring mayor) Marvin Sanders, who's been put on the spot by Don Daniello Iennello. Jack senses that the threats against Sanders's life are connected to the killing of a mob informant in an East Side deli (the deli's owners were taken out too) and to the bafflingly suicidal attempt of Francis "Frankie-the-Fox" Catalbo to shoot his way out of the anti-mob Task Force's headquarters. But Jack doesn't know the connection is Tommy Day, the handsome detective assisgned by the Task Force to supervise Sanders's protection—and ordered by Iennello to kill him. As the witless Task Force chases wrong leads, Jack's friendship with smart-aleck weather-forecaster Bonnie Hudson helps him get through the last days of his wife Natalie's death from cancer. Familiar fare presented with wit, insight, and matchless panache. Read full book review >