WESTSIDE by W.M.  Akers
Kirkus Star


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Akers’ debut novel is an addictively readable fusion of mystery, dark fantasy, alternate history, and existential horror.

Gilda Carr is a 27-year-old private investigator living on the Westside of a 1921 Manhattan that is divided by miles of barbed-wire fence running down Broadway. The heavily guarded partition separates the Eastside from its otherworldly neighbor to the west, where thousands of people have inexplicably vanished over the years and strange occurrences—like disappearing doorways in homes—have become commonplace. Carr specializes in solving “tiny mysteries,” but when she agrees to find a woman’s lost leather glove she becomes entangled in a much larger—and more dangerous—mystery, involving ruthless crime lords, bootlegged moonshine, and a looming turf war that could kill hundreds. Carr’s own missing father—a legendary brawler–turned–NYPD detective—is strangely connected to many of the key players. As the fearless Carr uncovers more secrets, she also begins to understand what happened to her presumably dead father—and why. The seamless blending of genre elements creates a fresh and unpredictable narrative, but the real power here comes from Akers’ focus on description throughout. Masterful worldbuilding, character development, and attention to dark atmospherics make for a fully immersive read in which even secondary characters are memorable. An elevator operator, for example is portrayed as having “skin the color of raw kielbasa,” and the elevator ride to a hotel’s penthouse is powered by sublime imagery: “[Jazz] music echoed down the elevator shaft like far-off guns—intoxicating, dangerous, and impossible to resist.” The cast of deeply developed characters and the richly envisioned setting are perfectly complemented by a breakneck-paced and action-packed storyline. It’s like a literary shot of Prohibition-era rotgut moonshine—bracing, quite possibly hallucination-inducing, and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

The illegitimate love child of Algernon Blackwood and Raymond Chandler.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-06-285399-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2019


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