DEATH'S CLENCHED FIST by James Sherburne


Email this review


The third--and most light-hearted--late-19th-century case for Paddy Moretti, Manhattan/Saratoga reporter for The Spirit of the Times (a sports-weekly), who stays in the city this time. . . and consorts, appealingly, with anarchists. One anarchist in particular: Emma Goldman-esque Marya Perlman, whom Paddy intimately chats with one night in a Bowery bar. So, when Marya is falsely accused of blowing up a Tammany Hall biggie (they did tussle earlier that day in Union Square), she hides out with--and seduces--Paddy, who sets out to clear her name by investigating the Tammany man's connections to ""The Circus,"" a secret brothel/sex-show emporium. This investigation gets Paddy roughed up, of course. (He goes to his Mafioso uncle for some help in the muscle department.) But, when another Tammany type is also eliminated, Paddy finally disguises himself as a rabbi, exposes The Circus set-up, fingers the (obvious) bad guy, and links one of the murders to racetrack doings up in Saratoga. Despite the thin, see-through plotting: a divertingly atmospheric historical-detection, best when hanging out with the accented anarchists and the boozy journalists.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin