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The Blue Rat

4.68  ·  Rating details ·  71 ratings  ·  61 reviews
El Buscador has long been legendary for revealing, to select visitors, New York’s secrets. Now he confronts his greatest challenge: the real estate mogul Timothy Terrance Tolland has been erecting skyscrapers at an alarming rate. Tolland’s mysterious construction at Canal Street threatens to tear the city’s fabric. Aided by a group of investigative reporters, El Buscador l ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published May 15th 2019 by Black Rose Writing
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Average rating 4.68  · 
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 ·  71 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Michael Staton
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With just 12 pages left to read, I had no idea how author Michael Hartnett’s newest novel would end.

That’s not a criticism of “The Blue Rat.” It’s out-and-out praise.

That’s how I want a tale to unfold… a mystery until the very last few pages. Nothing is more disappointing than a predictable plot.

For more than 200 pages, the wild, quirky plot of “The Blue Rat” led readers to New York City’s oldest cemetery and the city’s earliest grave. El Buscador, one of the book’s colorful, eccentric character
Bob Brink
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At a point near the end of The Blue Rat, an extraordinary novel by Michael Hartnett, I was transported back many decades to my boyhood, when I sat with my dad on the living room floor next to a radio as we listened to a dramatization of George Orwell’s 1984. The only thing I remember was the scene in which a cage with a rat was fitted over a man’s face, the door open, and the man’s screams as the rat began gnawing.

The scene in The Blue Rat, which occurs in a cemetery, is not quite as horrific, b
Jason Lady
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
New York City! Thinking of the name alone brings to mind many words. Huge. History. Diversity. Possibility. Mystery. Each of these aspects of New York City is explored, and celebrated, in Michael Hartnett’s The Blue Rat. The story takes place entirely in NYC, and the story’s eclectic cast of characters, to different degrees, love their city. But none loves the city more than the intriguingly atypical protagonist, known to most as The Tour Guide or El Buscador. He is indeed a Tour Guide, albeit o ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael Hartnett’s The Blue Rat offers a fast-paced, sizzling wild ride of novel that takes readers through (and often beneath) the mean streets of New York City. In many ways, The Blue Rat traces the story of the Tour Guide, a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker who laments his beloved city’s steady decline at the hands of Timothy Terrence Tolland, a real estate magnate determined to leave his gaudy brand amongst Gotham’s every nook and cranny. For the Tour Guide, Tolland embodies an existential threat ...more
Rick Treon
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The writing, plot, and characters in Michael Hartnett's The Blue Rat make it a truly exceptional novel for lovers of any genre.

The Tour Guide/El Buscador has been exploring New York for decades, learning about its underbelly. And if he chooses you, he'll show you the city you never knew existed. And now, with the help of an unlikely group that includes reporters and other sympathizers, he can finally use his extensive knowledge to put an end to Timothy Terrence Tolland.

One of the best parts of t
Alan Cook
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
El Buscador, also known by other names such as the Tour Guide, prowls the hidden parts of New York City, sometimes alone and sometimes with a "tourist" in tow, although these people may be more interested in collecting damaging information against a certain Tolland than seeing rare sights, the same as El Buscador is doing. Tolland builds skyscrapers and appears to have the arrogance of a Trump and at least some of the imagination of an Elon Musk. Tolland also breeds rats, dyes them blue and rele ...more
Jacob Patchen
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dark and clever, entertaining and thought-provoking, original and engaging.

The Blue Rat by Michael Hartnett is beautifully crafted from the ground up (or perhaps I should say, from the basement up). Hartnett keeps the pages turning with a cast of colorful characters, witty dialogue and the sort of mystery that keeps even the lazy readers from walking away. Not only does a creative and clever plot drives this unique story at a steady pace all the way through the last page, but the characters and
Sam II
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Rat by Michael Hartnett, is the story of The Tour Guide, renamed El Buscador (The Seeker according to my search of Google). After twenty years of exploring the underbelly of the City and learning to love its rich history and hidden treasures, El Buscador uses his wits and a team of unlikely sympathizers to try and end the meddling of the scourge of New York City, one Timothy Terrence Tolland. Michael Hartnett weaves a story of people with quirky backgrounds and hazy morals working toget ...more
Bill Percy
Jun 17, 2019 added it
Recommends it for: Noir-lovers with a taste for satire
Michael Hartnett’s latest novel, "The Blue Rat," is replete with characters who never fail to fascinate, settings that recall Neil Gaiman’s gem, "Neverwhere," and a plot that twists and turns like the subterranean spaces El Buscador (Spanish for “the Searcher”) prowls beneath his beloved New York City. Twenty years ago, El Buscador, who prefers to be called the Tour Guide for its anonymity, severed all ties with his previous life above ground—his job, his money, his technology, his credit cards, ...more
Gail Williams
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Hang on to your hat, hard hat, that is. You’re going to need it when the Tour Guide, aka El Buscador, leads his select customers at 5:37 A.M. into Gotham’s bowels. Be introduced to the twists, turns, labyrinths, dank corners, and abandoned subway stations of the historic metropolis. Be careful of the rats, thousands of them, that swarm at your feet; be especially wary of a new species: the Blue Rat, created by the power-mad tycoon, T. T. Tolland for his personal entertainment and profit.
Casey Dorman
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael Hartnett’s novel, The Blue Rat is a tour-de-force on several levels. It’s a tour of New York City at a level few who aren’t cartophiles or cab drivers could achieve. It’s a history lesson about New York, which focuses upon the arcane more than the usual sights and places. It’s a pleasurable, comedic literary gem disguised as a mystery novel. Finally, it’s also a genuine suspense thriller with an unforgettable protagonist.
What I enjoyed most about The Blue Rat was the humor. It’s clever a
John Vance
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Rat is the latest gem from one of the very best contemporary novelists I’ve read in recent years. Thoroughly thought-provoking and entertaining, the book defies convention while treating matters that appeal to the careful and intelligent reader.

First, Michael Hartnett’s style is captivating, with vivid language, sentences, and dialogue that constantly flow, carrying the reader along a most exhilarating journey down the streets and through the buildings of modern-day Manhattan. On the wa
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Rat is the latest gem from one of the very best contemporary novelists I’ve read in recent years. Thoroughly thought-provoking and entertaining, the book defies convention while treating matters that appeal to the careful and intelligent reader.

First, Michael Hartnett’s style is captivating, with vivid language, sentences, and dialogue that constantly flow, carrying the reader along a most exhilarating journey down the streets and through the buildings of modern-day Manhattan. On the wa
Glenn Ickler
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If rats don’t make you squeamish, you should read “The Blue Rat.”
If rats do make you squeamish, you should read “The Blue Rat.”
What I’m saying is, whether or not descriptive scenes of rats crawling all around and over people in tight places make you squeamish, you should read “The Blue Rat” because—creepy or not—this book is a lot of fun.
The story begins with this: “Two blue rats crawled across the Tour Guide’s supine body, scratching at his trench coat, looking for a way in. That was rotten new
Brian Kindall
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I Smell a Metaphor

Michael Hartnett has many talents as a writer, but the one most on display in The Blue Rat is his ability to relentlessly stick to the driving metaphor structuring his novel. We’re used to seeing New York from above – its towering buildings, its monumental museums, its lovely Central Park – but that’s all just so much sentimental hooey for our author. Instead, he insists on giving us a lower, even subterranean, view of Gotham. Underground, underfoot, underworld, and underbelly
Cadence McManimon
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fellow-author
The writing in Harnett's latest book is engaging! His colorful and varied characters draw you into a mystery with all the false leads, taunting truths, and suspense an investigative reader could want. Overall, the writing, pacing, dialogue, and descriptions of this book make it a fun romp through a variety of high-end and underground New York geography, and don't worry about following all the intricacies--there isn't much solid detail connecting of all the vague dots of intrigue, but that doesn' ...more
David Pearce
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On its surface, The Blue Rat, by Michael Hartnett, is the story of an immoral real estate magnate, bent on stamping his name across New York through odious and ugly buildings, blighting the landscape of Manhattan, and those fighting to preserve the beauty and history of a city they cherish.
Leading this fight is El Buscador, aka the Tour Guide, a man lost to sorrow yet immutably tied to the history, pathos, and joy of being a New Yorker. A renowned repository of the history and underside of grea
Darden North
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Watch Your Step”

Since reading and enjoying Hartnett’s previous work, “Generation Dementia,” I have anxiously awaited another novel from this creative, imaginative author. Harnett is not afraid to tackle ideas, plots, and characters that reach far beyond simply being unique, while crafting words and dialogue that hint an analogy to present day reality. The Prologue to “The Blue Rat” immediately stirred my curiosity to learn more about who or what was the eccentric Tour Guide. In 40s detective ha
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, the blue rats are real. A megalomaniac has gone out of his way to capture, dye, and release blue rats into the city as a form of branding. But thankfully we have our anti-hero, the Tour Guide, a man who is well acquainted with the city's ins and outs. Famed for his unique knowledge of the NYC landscape, the Tour Guide has a line of people waiting for him every morning, hoping to be chosen to experience this knowledge first-hand.

For me, the most engaging aspect of this novel was to re
Sean Coons
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like conscious thought bubbling up from the darkness of the subconscious mind, Michael Hartnett’s New York in The Blue Rat grows from a subterranean world of shadow and cerulean hues. Citizens navigate life like rats in a maze of skyscrapers, towers of ego constructed by the connected and the ruthless, as epitomized by the triple alliterative threat of real estate magnate Timothy Terrence Tolland. But the real action is below ground...

And this is the domain of the book’s protagonist, The Tour Gu
Peter Bridgford
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite moments of being a book reader is when a book clearly connects with some quirky qualities within me and holds me in its grasp with its great storytelling. I recently experienced this when I read Michael Hartnett’s book, The Blue Rat, for the first time. I started it during a family vacation, and I found myself engrossed and unable to put it down, even though there was a lot going on around me. Truly, because I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen in the end of the book ...more
Gordon S
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We readers are demanding souls; we want continuous rewards as we move through a novel. And Michael Hartnett’s The Blue Rat provides just that. This genre-defying story delivers an unpredictable plot, with engaging writing marked by sometimes laugh-out-loud dialogue, and eccentric characters. Among them are the protagonist, a former Columbia University history professor who lives a hermit-like existence underground, in an abandoned part of New York’s subway system. He’s attained celebrity status ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael Hartnett’s “The Blue Rat” takes readers on a wild, intrepid adventure through the seedy underbelly of New York City. A collection of colorful characters, - each one a unique spirit, yet all motivated by the same ambition (to bring down the contemptible real estate mogul Timothy Terrence Tolland) - takes the reader by the hand and leads them on a hunt across, beneath, and deep within New York City, exposing truth, lies, and some rather sleazy operations along the way.

Though Hartnett emplo
L.M. Poplin
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be honest. I don’t think I’ll ever look at NYC or rats the same way again. Already fascinated with underground cultures (both literal and figurative) I had no problem immersing myself in Hartnett’s gritty, filthy, and yet mesmerizing world that combines some serious imagination with a wholly credible depiction of NYC. I don’t want to believe this side of the city exists, but after reading such detailed and well-researched descriptions, it’s hard not to. Unfortunately, Tolland could be a rea ...more
Joe Edd Morris
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing


If you’ve ever visited New York City, or any large city, and walked its crowded sidewalks and streets and wondered, “What goes on beneath all of this concrete?” Wonder no more. With The Blue Rat, Michael Hartnett takes you into a subterranean nether world of NYC’s underground hidden crevices, where lurk a network of eccentric characters, shady creatures of the dark…and blue rats.
The multifaceted plot unfolds with a colorful cast including a tour guide who doubles
Steve Leshin
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Blue Rat” by Michael Hartnett not only is a smartly written fun Tour de Force about the city that never sleeps, but it also doubles as an amazing guide book to the city’s little known subterranean underbelly. New York is teaming with eccentric and sometimes dangerous wildlife as well as architectural and historical sites most tourists miss. The wildlife consists of the two legged and four legged kind, the latter painted blue as the title implies. The main protagonist is The Tour Guide, bett ...more
Andrew Wolfendon
In a summer when the theaters are filled with sequels and remakes, originality might seem to be a dying art. Thankfully, there are books like The Blue Rat to give us hope. This is a fiercely original piece of writing, populated by flawed and funny characters who could live only in New York City. In fact, one of the central “characters” of the novel is New York itself, Manhattan in particular. The Blue Rat is, in a very real sense, a character study of—and a love song to—the New York that lies, l ...more
Donan Berg
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When a New York City blue rat scampers across your consciousness, or subconscious, you’re hooked. Please note it begins with the title. Author Michael Hartnett allows you but one escape: read on and enjoy. The Big Apple is Hartnett’s second kingdom. He captured imaginations in an earlier kingdom (Fools in the Magic Kingdom: Disney Unhinged) that is well worth your time. “The Blue Rat” is a page-turning ride without the out-of-pocket expense of a metropolitan hop-on, hop-off tour bus ticket.

If yo
Jeff Zwagerman
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael Hartnett does not fail to mystify and capture the reader in his novel “The Blue Rat.” The premise is completely out of the ordinary and one that most of us would never expect. Dyeing rats blue just to brand a name is probably way beyond a normal reality.
The enjoyment for most will be the guided tour by the protagonist El Buscador of places in New York City that most have never even ventured to believe existed. The bulk of the population would never dare to even visit these places. True t
Glen Sobey
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An archetypal battle between the narcissistic would-be ruler of New York City—Timothy Terrence Tolland III—and the Tour Guide, who lives underground with rats, both brown and blue, drives the action in The Blue Rat, an exciting thriller by Michael Hartnett. Tolland is a megalomaniac real estate developer whose sole purpose in life, besides making money, is to impose himself on the lives of New Yorkers, though he has plans for an even wider extension of his brand. He wishes to dominate the Manhat ...more
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