Private investigator Jackson Steeg has a new client—his mobster brother, Dave, who’s in deep trouble after a suspicious fire in one of his warehouses leaves half a dozen charred corpses in its wake.
Steeg might not approve of his brother’s ways, but blood is blood, so he doggedly chases the truth, even when the trail leads him to a diabolical serial killer haunting the grimy streets of Hell’s Kitchen—and to the realization that the answers to all of his ugliest questions lie far too close to home.
Propelled by Ira Berkowitz’s lean, lyrical prose, Sinners’ Ball is another hard-hitting journey into a dark world of old-school gangsters, murky morality, and inherited sin that lies hidden beneath New York City’s antiseptic modern façade.
Shamus Award Winner
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Nasty, brutish and deadly describes the world of Jackson Steeg, as shown in Berkowitz's third novel to feature the ex-NYPD homicide detective with one lung and a weakness for the bottle (after Old Flame). When a warehouse owned by Steeg's mob-connected brother, Dave, goes up in flames and kills three squatters and two fire fighters, an additional six bodies, sexually mutilated and placed in packing crates, turn up in the basement. Dave is an easy target for an indictment, and when Steeg tries to locate the real culprit, he steps on the wrong toes and finds himself in deep trouble. Berkowitz's brisk style is a perfect fit for this violent world of killers, scam artists, crooked politicians and the downtrodden of all sorts. Steeg is loyal to friends and family, and if that means turning a blind eye occasionally or administering his own form of justice, then so be it. There are no white knights, no storybook endings for Berkowitz, just vivid, ragged slashes of life. (Dec.)
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Former NYPD detective turned sometime private eye Jackson Steeg normally keeps his distance from his mobster brother, Dave, but in Hell’s Kitchen, family trumps all. So when Dave’s warehouse is torched, and six mutilated, charred corpses are found in the ruins, Jackson commits to helping his brother. Soon, Steeg is the target of some very bad guys working to protect the secrets of some of the most powerful people in Manhattan. He is also caught up in family drama. Dave, normally shrewd, astute, and at times spectacularly violent, has lost his criminal mojo. Worse, Dave’s son has left Dartmouth to join the family business. Sinner’s Ball isn’t quite as much fun as Old Flame (2008), Berkowitz’s previous Steeg novel. There’s an air of tragedy this time, as Steeg tries to reconcile family loyalties with his sense of what’s right. That said, Berkowitz’s take on family ties remains true to his series’ vision of Hell’s Kitchen’s pre-gentrification denizens. There’s plenty of action here, too, and crisp, clever writing. --Thomas Gaughan
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