BRODERICK by William Heffernan


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A gritty, if staggeringly derivative, first novel based on the exploits of real-life 1920s detective Johnny Broderick, a rough, swollen-knuckled cop whose name became a Manhattan verb: ""to broderick,"" meaning to rough up, clout, belt, or clobber. Egotistical, publicity-hungry Broderick is a pal of Winchell, Considine, and Runyon; he's also on the take, shaking clown street hoods for spare twenties and big-time promoters for protection--no better or worse a civil servant than anybody else in Mayor Jimmy Walker's domain. But if Broderick is a fairly unusual anti-hero, the two major plot strands here are numbingly familiar. There's Broderick's love affair with a society dame, whose father tries to buy him off. And there's his cat-and-mouse dueling with vengeful Hyman Amberg, a paranoid Richard Widmark-Tommy Udo type who has just been released from Sing Sing--where Broderick put him away for three years on a phony rap. Now Amberg is focused utterly on killing Broderick in public and making him scream for mercy or at least with shame. But Amberg's new gang gets into idiotic trouble when it kills a cop and gets holed up a hotel shootout; Broderick and his crony Cordes capture the hoods, the newspaper publicity is enormous, and Amberg is sent away once again. This time, however, Amberg escapes and nearly makes good his revenge. . . . Nostalgia, cheesecake, and punches--an unoriginal but chewy enough combination for Late-Late-Show addicts and other tough-guy aficionados.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Crown