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Old City Hall

(Detective Greene #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,505 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,505 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Old City Hall is a legal mystery – calling it a thriller would be pushing it. Toronto radio talk show host Kevin Brace is accused of murdering his wife and to all involved it appears to be an open and shut case – which of course it isn’t.

There is an interesting – but at times overdeveloped – cast of characters, starting with the accused talk show host, who refuses to speak; his conscientious but at times confused defense attorney; the fastidious and proper prosecutor; the hard working homicide
Marty Fried
I'd give this 4+ stars, but I'm rounding up to 5 because it's a first in the series, and I didn't expect it to be so good.

I loved the twists and turns of the story, but perhaps even more, I loved the characters. Almost all of them were likable except the ones who were not supposed to be. Even the prosecutor was interested in justice rather than just winning his case. He had said that his role was not to win or lose a case, but to ensure that the integrity of the system is upheld. Of course, most
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
I really loved this detective novel though I figured it out early, at least I figured something out, it kept my attention and frustrated me as every time I thought I'd budgeted time to finish it, I was wrong and had to give up again. Finally, this afternoon I shut myself in a bubble bath and succeeded, and even the Acknowledgements made me smile.

When Mr Gurdial Singh delivers the Globe and Mail, at 5:30 am, as he always does, the routine he’s enjoyed for years is broken. Mr Kevin doesn’t meet h
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Old City Hall" is breathtakingly good. It's a crisply paced murder-mystery with a satisfying plot and sufficient twists to keep it addictive and infectious to the very end. The novel boasts an intriguing and consistently sympathetic cast of characters, the most colourful and endearing of which is the city of Toronto itself. Rotenberg rounds out the story with historical and cultural background on the city, and behind-the-scenes legal, law enforcement and incarceration insights that add interest ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this mystery. Set in Toronto, third- person narrator, jumping from a variety of characters in the story, starting with a minor character, Mr. Singh, a 74-yer-old Indian who now delivers papers. He is delivering papers in an upscale condo apartment building, when the owner of one of the two top=floor apts. tells him he has killed his wife.

The story then introduces Dectective Ari Greene, a Jewish man (somewhat mysterious to his team) who takes care of his father, a survivor of the H
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sensational debut novel with a great Canadian flavour. Rotenberg even knows his hockey!
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a fun read, with good characters and Toronto made to be an interesting setting.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Nice mystery set in Toronto in a good way that captures parts of the city in an amazing fashion...the identity of the suspected killer is a neat twist. Has all the earmarks of a potential series.
Amy Harris
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully well-written novel that transcends its genre.

the best thing I can say about this excellent book is that, as I neared the end, I read more and more slowly because I didn't want it to end.

Rotenberg's greatest strengths are the quality of his prose and his characterizations. The complicated humanity of his protagonists is vividly realized throughout the novel.

As a police procedural Old City Hall might be criticised for getting off to a bit of a slow start (the early chapters do dra
I received a copy of this novel thanks to the GoodReads First Reads program. Old City Hall is an intriguing murder mystery with a few unexpected twists and turns that unfolds at a realistic pace. I enjoyed getting to know more about these characters, who they are and how they react in certain situations and how they handle the mystery before them. Perhaps my favourite part of the novel is how the author brings the city of Toronto to life--from the districts and structures to the multiculturalism ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a legal thriller that focuses on its setting, Toronto, with loving attention. The author clearly has a love for his home city. The story is told from multiple perspectives: from the Crown Attorney, to the policemen investigating, to the newspaper delivery person. Interestingly, the story is never told from the perspective of the victim or suspects, so we get a wholly police/legal view of the case.

I will be sure to pick up his next book, Guilty Plea.
Bernie Charbonneau
I live in the Toronto area so reading this book was fun in the sense that I recognized all of the landscapes described in the story. A murder mystery involving a radio personality who is charged with the murder of his live-in wife found dead in the family condo. Well written by this Toronto area lawyer and his first book to boot. Lots of good twists to this mystery just when you think you have it figured out. Kept me turning the pages and looking forward to his next mystery.
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Set in Tornonto, the book unfolds with an intersting cast of characters in what should be an open and shut case. The killer confessed but as the legal procedures take place many inconsistencies are revealed. Good writing but too much about the Toronto Maple Leafs! The ending was unsatisfying as it just became too convoluted. I would try this author again.
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Extremely well written. One of the best written that I've read recently. Good story with a decent plot.

I learned about the city of Toronto and the Canadian justice and criminal sustems.

I look forward for other books by the author.
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Very well written first novel. The author spins out bits and pieces of information, a little at a time. The setting is Toronto, and the characters reflect the influx of people from many parts of the world. The author knows hockey, too.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: toronto
I like to read books set in Toronto and this one really brings the city alive. It's an entertaining courtroom drama/mystery with believable characters, a good read.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well-written legal thriller set in Toronto. This is a first novel, so hopefully we can look forward to more from this author, a criminal lawyer who lives in Toronto and knows whereof he writes.
Lynn Bornath
Old City Hall had some really nice twists and I was often surprised. Read the full review.
Despite a rather shaky start in the legal profession, Robert Rotenberg's background in criminal law explains the perspective of his first novel OLD CITY HALL, most of the the book is being told from either the defence or the prosecution viewpoints.

OLD CITY HALL starts off in a decidedly disarming manner, with polite, proper and very Indian Mr Singh going about his daily job of distributing newspapers which always involves a chat with Mr Kevin in Suite 12A. On this particular morning the door is
Justin Melter
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Hagen
Old City Hall, by Robert Rotenberg, A. narrated by Paul Hecht, Produced by Recorded Books, downloaded from

Rotenberg himself is a defense lawyer, and you can tell he knows his way around a courtroom. Here we have a man who is famous on the radio, known as Mr. Canada, everyone listens to his shows. When the man who delivers his newspaper is met by the man at his door with the sentence: “I killed her, I killed my wife,” it would seem to be a slam-dunk case. The defense lawyer and the a
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was recommended by the 2012 Book Lover's Page-A-Day Calendar. Entry was for June 30/July 1, 2012.

I gotta say that the inclusion of this novel on the Book Lover's Page-A-Day Calendar now makes recommendations by the calendar slightly suspect. I didn't hate this novel-- I did, after all, finish it-- but it didn't "wow" me in any way, shape, or form. It's your typical cookie-cutter quick pick off an airport gift shop book rack type mystery, and it isn't even a tremendously well-done one a
Kelli Stephenson
Feb 01, 2010 rated it liked it
This book took me a minute to get into, it is one of those books where each chapter is about a new character so it takes a while to figure out who everyone is. Once I got past that, it was pretty darn good. The female lawyer had a potty mouth, but everyone else was pretty well-behaved. When the book began to unravel and the crime investigation and court case came together, it was really well done. I was thrown for a loop a few times, which I like!! BUT the last 5-6 chapters just got way to twist ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Starts off strong, with lots of Canadian flavor. I liked the way the multiple characters' narratives weaved together in separate chapters, leading you through the plot from different directions. Unfortunately, some mystery conventions took over in the second half, and characters make "Ah ha!" discoveries without sharing them. It's not a puzzle that the reader can figure out, and so you just have to plug along and wait for the reveal, which felt strung out in this case.

Recommended for people who
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, crime, fiction
If I could, I would give this book 2.5 stars. It was interesting and engaging, but at the end I was so bothered by the complexity of the "whodunit" I can't say I truly liked it. If the author had kept the resolution a bit simpler, or outlined it more completely (by giving hints earlier, perhaps), I would have given it 4 stars. It could be a great book but for the ending - far too contrived for my taste.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: slco-rc
Things I liked about this book:

1. Tight plot, no meandering.
2. Well-drawn, memorable, realistic characters with real names.
3. Satisfying ending with no certain conclusion.

Things I didn't like:

1. Detached, almost clinical tone.
2. Too many main characters (I personally would have cut out the reporter as a main character because he didn't make much difference.)
3. The way the author cut important conversations off and never filled the reader in.
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
As a native Torontonian, I wanted to like this book, but alas... The sub-sub-plot about the city's hockey team is pointless, as indeed is the title which has nothing to do with the story other than to advertise the book's Toronto-ness. The ending is not fulfilling and Rotenberg lets the protagonists figure out stuff which the reader cannot for lack of information. Very disappointing!
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Mom, Dad
I'd give this three and a half stars if I could; I can't quite justify a fourth star, but the strong Toronto location certainly helps nudge it in that direction.

I didn't really get a strong hold of any of the characters, especially the victim of the crime, but I liked the characters and the writing; I'd read more by this author.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Nice descriptions of life in Toronto, although there were many characters and the basic plot was a little unbelievable--the client who won't talk to his defense lawyer--and the twist was telegraphed early. Still, it was a fun read.
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After graduating from law school in Toronto, Robert Rotenberg became the managing editor of Passion, the English-speaking magazine of Paris. He then returned to publish and edit his own magazine, T.O. The Magazine of Toronto.Eighteen years ago he opened his own law practice and is today one of Toronto’s top criminal lawyers, defending, as he likes to say “everything from murder to shoplifting.”Rot ...more

Other books in the series

Detective Greene (5 books)
  • The Guilty Plea (Detective Greene, #2)
  • Stray Bullets (Detective Greene, #3)
  • Stranglehold (Detective Greene, #4)
  • Heart of the City (Detective Greene, #5)