Michael's Reviews > Mobtown

Mobtown by Jack Kelly
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's review
Mar 01, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: hardboiled, historical, mystery, own-it, read-in-2010, reviewed, signed-edition
Read from March 13 to 16, 2010

The time is 1959, Ike Van Savage, P.I. is hired by Vicky Petrone, wife of mobster, Joe Petrone. Vicky tells Ike that her husband plans to kill her. Her husband knows that she does't love him anymore and his first two wives died under questionable circumstances.

In this noir novel, Rochester, New York is described as a town run by the mob. We learn quite a bit about Rochester in the 50's, the politics, the parties by the lake and the way police look the other way when the mob is at work.

Intersecting stories involve, Paddy Doyle, a slum landlord who owns buildings downtown and refuses to sell his buildings to the mob. Then he sees his buildings burn down, one by one. Paddy asks Ike's help in bringing the arsonist to justice or Paddy will have to do it himself.

While the arsonist investigation is in progress, Ike is asked to check into the activities of businessman Eddie Gill. Eddie's wife is suspicious and wants him followed. Ike confirms her suspicions as he sees Eddie take a sixteen-year-old girl who worked for him, to a night club and then to a motel.

As Ike is working on these cases he describes the happenings of the city.

I enjoy this type of story with good action and seeing what is taking place on the page is more important than the psychological reasons for the character's actions.

The dialogue is excellent and reading about Ike's exploits reminds me of the gread Raymond Chandler's character, Philip Marlowe. Neither Marlowe nor Van Savage take a back seat to threats, they are both hard on the outside toward women while inside they can be tender.

It is easy to visualize what is happening when the reader is given words like this:
"We looked at each other, she tightened her eyes, and I knew she was talking the truth. Whatever it was between us was roaring down the tracks and it knocked my bitterness out of the way like so much horse feathers."

Yeah, baby!

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