Anne Bonny #BookReview The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin 5* Genius #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction @MantleBooks ‘Jazz musicians, dirty politicians, private eyes, the mob, hitmen and scam artists come together to make one hell of a story!’

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The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin ~ #3 in the City Blues Quartet
My Own Copy ~ Hardback Book

Synopsis ~

* In Ray Celestin’s gripping third book, The Mobster’s Lament, it’s a mobster’s last chance to escape the clutches of New York’s mafia crime families: but as a blizzard descends on NYC, a ruthless serial killer is tracking his every move. *

Fall, 1947. Private Investigator Ida Davis has been called to New York by her old partner, Michael Talbot, to investigate a brutal killing spree in a Harlem flophouse that has left four people dead. But as they delve deeper into the case, Ida and Michael realize the murders are part of a larger conspiracy that stretches further than they ever could have imagined.

Meanwhile, Ida’s childhood friend, Louis Armstrong, is at his lowest ebb. His big band is bankrupt, he’s playing to empty venues, and he’s in danger of becoming a has-been, until a promoter approaches him with a strange offer to reignite his career . . .

And across the city, nightclub manager and mob fixer Gabriel Leveson’s plans to flee New York are upset when he’s called in for a meeting with the ‘boss of all bosses’, Frank Costello. Tasked with tracking down stolen mob money, Gabriel must embark on a journey through New York’s seedy underbelly, forcing him to confront demons from his own past, all while the clock is ticking on his evermore precarious escape plans.

From its tenements to its luxury hotels, from its bebop clubs to the bustling wharves of the Brooklyn waterfront, award-winning author Ray Celestin’s The Mobster’s Lament is both a gripping crime novel and a vivid, panoramic portrait of 1940s New York as the mob rises to the height of its powers . . .

My Review ~

This series has proven to be phenomenal reading. The author knows how to capture the historical era and atmosphere of post war America perfectly. The characters of Ida Davies and Michael Talbot have continued to grow with added depth to their circumstance. In this novel the focus is heavily on Michael and his doctor son Thomas, who finds himself facing the electric chair for multiple murders….

The title opens with a newspaper article dated August 1947. The article tells of a local NYC hospital worker who is charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Violent and gory deaths scandalised as a ‘Harlem voodoo cult’. The murders took place at a negro flophouse and with the accused an African American male, he is going to need a miracle to be either found not-guilty or acquitted.
This is when Michael brings in Ida to investigate.

Thomas Talbot is the only man left alive, which begs the question; what was he doing there? And how is he connected to the murder victims?

‘Welcome to Harlem’

The novels take’s you on a journey through Harlem, with a variety of characters telling their story. From hookers and their pimps, to junkies and runaways. Ida must interview anyone and everyone, if Thomas is to be set free. But is Thomas telling the truth?

‘The empire of night had arisen’

‘Michael had navigated the torments of people out on the streets’

Aside from Ida and Michael trying to solve Tom’s case. We also meet Gabriel, a man with a painful past who works for the mob. Gabriel works predominately out of the Copa Lounge, when he is asked to investigate missing money. In total 2 million dollars is missing and the mob’s approach to being ripped off is well-known.
Gabriel is a deep, thoughtful individual who has had enough of the ‘gangster’ way of life. He is making his own plans and re-writing his destiny.

‘Like every other mobster, the longer he stayed in the life, the closer he got to a prison cell or a shallow grave’

The novel details the various mobster families the relationships between each other and Gabriel’s connection to each member. I found this fascinating. I think we tend to romanticise the 1940’s, the mob and the post-war feeling. With The Mobster’s Lament the author leaves you under no illusion about how violent the gangsters can be.

There are a series of newspaper articles throughout the novel itself. They add to the atmospheric feel. When I opened the novel, I felt that I was walking amongst the characters and watching all the action unfold.
Ray Celestin does not disappoint, not on one chapter, paragraph or sentence.

The characterisation is superb, from hitmen with murder counts into the treble digits. To following Louis Armstrong and the rise of the American jazz music scene.
To an intelligent black hoodlum who is aware of the way the land lies and he doesn’t miss a trick.

‘It seemed like madness and addiction followed the whole generation around’

Jazz musicians, dirty politicians, private eyes, the mob, hitmen and scam artists come together to make one hell of a story!
5* Genius

RC
Ray Celestin
Website ~ Well worth a visit!
Instagram ~ Also worth a visit to get a feel for the series!

TAJ
The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin ~ #1 in the City Blues Jazz Quartet

Synopsis ~

Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year.
Shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award.
As recommended on the Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman.

Inspired by a true story, set against the heady backdrop of jazz-filled, mob-ruled New Orleans, The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin is a gripping thriller announcing a major talent in historical crime fiction.

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – the Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him:

Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot – heading up the official investigation, but struggling to find leads, and harbouring a grave secret of his own.

Former detective Luca d’Andrea – now working for the mafia; his need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities.

And Ida – a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, she stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case –and into terrible danger . . .

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim.

DMB
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin ~ #2 in the City Blues Quartet

Synopsis ~

*Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of 2017*
Dead Man’s Blues is the gripping historical crime novel from Ray Celestin, following on from the events of his debut The Axeman’s Jazz, winner of the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for Best First Novel 2014.

Chicago, 1928. In the stifling summer heat three disturbing events take place. A clique of city leaders is poisoned in a fancy hotel. A white gangster is found mutilated in an alleyway in the Blackbelt. And a famous heiress vanishes without a trace.

Pinkerton detectives Michael Talbot and Ida Davis are hired to find the missing heiress by the girl’s troubled mother. But it proves harder than expected to find a face that is known across the city, and Ida must elicit the help of her friend Louis Armstrong.

While the police take little interest in the Blackbelt murder crime scene photographer, Jacob Russo, can’t get the dead man’s image out of his head, and so he embarks on his own investigation.

And Dante Sanfelippo – rum-runner and fixer – is back in Chicago on the orders of Al Capone, who suspects there’s a traitor in the ranks and wants Dante to investigate. But Dante is struggling with problems of his own as he is forced to return to the city he thought he’d never see again . . .

As the three parties edge closer to the truth, their paths cross and their lives are threatened. But will any of them find the answers they need in the capital of blues, booze and corruption?

Anne Bonny #Blog Tour #GuestPost The Secret Super Power Of Stories ~ The Storyteller by @pierre_jarawan #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @WorldEdBooks #TheStoryteller #TranslatedLit

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The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan
Translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl

Synopsis ~

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s new homeland, Germany, for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. The only clues Samir has are an old picture of his father and the memory of the bedtime stories he used to tell. The Storyteller follows the turbulent search of a son for a father whose heart had always kept yearning for his homeland Lebanon. In this moving and engaging novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures portrayed in the media and shows an intimate truth of what it means to come from a country torn apart by civil war. With this beautiful and suspenseful story, full of images, Jarawan proves to be a masterful storyteller himself.

Guest Post ~

The Storyteller begins with a comic scene: Samir’s father Brahim tries to install a satellite dish on the roof of the house, making it point 26 degrees east in order to receive Lebanese TV programs. The longer it takes Brahim to get it to point in the right direction, the more neighbors come and make comments until, finally, Arabic music is heard coming from the living room window and everybody starts dancing. Samir, the boy whose father will disappear a few weeks later, says:

It was crazy. It was magical! At this moment, there was nothing that would have indicated we were living in Germany. This could have been a side street in Zahle, the city where Father was born at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains. Zahle, city of wine and poetry, city of writers and poets. Around us, nothing but Lebanese people, talking and eating and partying in Lebanese fashion.

There is a feeling of warmth and comfort in that scene. Samir, who was born in Germany after his parents had to leave Lebanon because of the Civil War, feels at home and he defines home as “Lebanese”.

When I started writing The Storyteller I wanted to write a novel about a family that is torn apart between two countries. And Samir to me is a typical representative of the second generation of immigrants we have in Germany, but also the UK and so many other countries. This generation did not make the decision to move to these countries themselves. It was made for them. I, myself, am part of that generation too. I consider myself lucky. My father is Lebanese, my mother is German. I learned the best from both worlds. When I got asked what country I considered my home, I always said: both.

Things are different for Samir. And in that respect he represents all the difficulties young men and women of that second generation can face. In most cases their parents keep glorifying their old home. They watch Lebanese (or Turkish or …) TV, eat Lebanese food, get together with other people from Lebanon with whom they speak Arabic… and the children? They end up asking themselves where home really is. Although they go to the neighborhood school, speak the local language better than their parents and have local friends, they experience difficulties in developing an identity. Samir’s father is a great storyteller. And while every child loves having a great storyteller as a father, in Samir’s case these stories cause him to face personal conflicts, because they are about an image of Lebanon which is presented to him in these stories as paradise on earth; they literally make him dream about living there.

Only many years later, when Samir sets foot in Lebanon for the first time in order to solve the riddle of his father’s disappearance which tore apart his family’s idyll twenty years ago, he learns that there is and always has been a dark side to his father’s stories about the country – a side that was never mentioned.

What’s happening in Europe with the current “refugee crisis” had an immediate effect on me. It was in 2015 when I composed the sentence “I am the son of refugees myself” for the first time in my life. I had never seen myself or my parents in this way. They never saw themselves or talked about themselves as refugees. We were simply a German-Lebanese-Family. Period. It’s kind of strange, that in times where “truth” has become a nebulous term people are fighting over, I started to see my family’s truth clearer than ever before.

If you would ask me if literature, if books, if stories have a secret super power, I would say: Yes! I could cite countless statistics about how many people died in a conflict or while crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat or about how many young men and women are part of that second generation of immigrant families and are experiencing similar difficulties as Samir. But it is most likely that this would not cause you to reflect. It is different with stories. Statistics live in the head, while stories reside in the heart. Ultimately it is in the heart that stories can change you, and your way of thinking.

The Storyteller by Pierre Jararwan and translated by Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl is published by World Editions in paperback on 4 April 2019 at £11.99

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Pierre Jarawan
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