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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
New York City in the boomtown 1980s: land values skyrocketing, new buildings going up on every block, fortunes being made overnight - and extorted in the morning. On the streets of Hell's Kitchen, the construction rackets are in the hands of the Irish mob. It's always been their turf; now it's their time. And the stakes are higher than ever before - which explains the sudd ...more
Paperback, 323 pages
Published December 27th 1997 by Fawcett Books (first published 1997)
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Carol Storm
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I really had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the nitty gritty details on mob violence, police procedure, working conditions in the tunnels below NYC were incredibly thorough and totally convincing. Thomas Kelly has a real talent for creating terror and suspense and for putting ruthless criminals into explosive situations.

On the other hand, the emotional drama of the story is composed entirely of groaning cliches and stereotypes, the good guys are almost laughably predictable in
During the '80s building boom in New York, Billy Adare was a sandhog (tunneler). He attended school at night with a goal of getting his law degres. His brother, Paddy, is an enforcer for Jack Tierney, who runs the construction racket in the West Side.

We learn of the difficulty these sandhogs had, building the tunnels under the skyscrapers. Most of the sandhogs were Irish and the Mob wanted to replace the Irish with newly immigrated Poles, pay less and pocket the difference.

When a union rep is be
John Daly
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a former sandhog myself, this book is intimately close to my roots. Both my grandfather and my father were sandhogs. Thomas Kelly captures the details of his own turf in this tale of gangsters and hard-boiled characters. I'm not much for the genre (I like the films better) but I own a signed copy of Payback that my father picked up at one of Mr. Kelly's signings. It remains a family heirloom. Mr. Kelly, as a former sandhog, has also served as inspiration for my own book, Spiked Snowballs &am ...more
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: labor, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it
His first book, and you can tell somewhat, but it does not distract from a rather tight bit of business I would call city noir. No really good guys, Unions, Sandhogs, the Irish and the Italians all stirred up
into a nasty bit about family relationships of all kinds. Well worth a read.
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Just ok, not into mob violence...
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Thomas Kelly (b. 1960) is the author of three novels set in New York City. Born in New York, Kelly spent ten years as a construction worker and sandhog—working in the subway tunnels beneath the city—before attending Fordham University and Harvard University, where he received a master’s degree in public administration. Kelly parlayed his experience in union politics into a job as an advance man fo ...more
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