Life for NYPD detective Michael Cassidy is black and Red all over in this thriller set during the McCarthy era of the 1950s. Not only does he have a murder to solve, he's also got to rid himself of the curse of Commie-baiting superlawyer Roy Cohn.
Cassidy, a war veteran, has an unusual background. His Russian-born father, Tom Cassidy, is a successful theater producer whose closest friend—and Michael's godfather—is a mob boss. Tom himself was involved in illegal liquor dealing. Michael's troubled mother died in a strange accident involving pills. The world of father and son come together when a show dancer is found dead in Michael's Hell's Kitchen apartment, having been tortured. He was searching for something that authorities all the way up to the CIA, not to mention Russian spies, want in the worst way. Cassidy can't trust anyone, least of all Dylan, the beautiful woman he's fallen for. After a run-in in which the hot-tempered Michael talks back to Cohn, the conniving lawyer gets even by dragging Tom Cassidy through the folly of a Senate investigatory hearing and having him arrested for deportation. Mixing fictional and reality-based characters (J. Edgar Hoover makes an appearance) and providing a wealth of period detail, Taylor works in what has become time-honored fashion since Ragtime. But he works exceptionally well within that convention, and that of noir fiction, illuminating his characters and the times they're living through in a lively, light-on-its-feet, agreeably no-nonsense fashion.
Taylor, a seasoned writer for TV and film, makes a strong debut with the first in a series of novels featuring a hard-edged but properly vulnerable detective.