Thursday, March 16, 2017

Guest Reviewer John Stickney Reviews Coney Island Avenue by J.L. Abramo

Having recently reviewed The Last Collar by Lawrence Kelter and Frank Zafiro as well as The Origins of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M. O'Connor, John is back today with another review.

Coney Island Avenue by J.L. Abramo   Down & Out Books

An excellent read, worthy of comparison to Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series.

“My sister’s boy is popping the question.”
“What question is that, why the eggplant is always greasy?”
“He bought a ring for his girlfriend.”
“Jesus, Augie, what kind of uncle are you.  Couldn’t you talk him out of it?”
“You’re a hopeless cynic, Tommy.  I haven’t met her, but my sister says she seems like a nice girl.”
“They all seem like nice girls, and then they grow up and become their mothers.

Shamus Award winning author J.L. Abramo’s new release, Coney Island Avenue (Down & Out Books), continues the story of the New York Police Department’s Detective Squad in the 61st Precinct, Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., a squad first visited by Abramo in his acclaimed novel Gravesend.  Set in the dog days of August, the new novel opens with a multiple homicide, that of the young man and woman referred to above.  Their execution is perpetrated by two guys.  The first, dressed in a gray business suit, looked good enough that he could pass for a banker.  The second, is a big ape in a blue jogging suit, or as his not a banker partner notes, a “goombah outfit,” the appropriate dress for a mob enforcer known as Paulie Bonebreaker. As the Detectives of the 61st begin investigating, more bodies turn up, the crime itself is not all that simple.  While that investigation evolves, additional crimes and cases are dropped on the squad.  Abramo keeps the story moving in real time, clever dialogue and small rapid fire paragraphs jump us between the various plot lines.  The squad is a mix of veterans and squad newbies.  Their personal stories, their families or the lack thereof is woven into the narrative.  A total of 58 characters appear in the book, from bakers to mob bosses, from Russian criminals to corrupt building contractors, the police and the detectives, through Abramo’s skill we get a sense of each.  The story and the members of the 61st Squad are life-like, compelling and believable.  As a police procedural, the investigation and procedures followed are spot on, it compares favorably to the best of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series.   Abramo is an accomplished writer, his West Coast set series about PI Jake Diamond, revived and also available from Down & Out Books is award winning.  But Abramo grew up in the Gravesend area of Brooklyn, NY.  He knows the streets, the neighborhoods and its people.  And he knows police, as this bit from two uniform officers talking while on stationary surveillance…

“I don’t know about you, but I could eat a horse,” he said.
“Pinto or Appaloosa?”

I hope J.L. Abramo is working on other novels involving the 61st Precinct, Gravesend and Coney Island Avenue are both excellent reads. I cannot wait for the next in this brilliant series.

I am grateful to Down & Out Books and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read Coney Island Avenue.

John Stickney ©2017

John Stickney is a writer formerly from Cleveland, Ohio now residing in North Carolina.  His fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Demolition, Needle, among others.

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