From Publishers Weekly
Max Greengrass, the hero of this engaging mystery by Blaine (The Desperate Season), has much in common with David Liss's hero Benjamin Weaver. Both are Jews in a world of gentiles: for Weaver, it's 18th-century London, for Greengrass, the sidewalks and saloons of lower Manhattan in 1893. Both are ex-prize fighters, as well as amateur detectives, whose murder investigations take place against a background of real and imagined events and uncover plots surprisingly sinister and far-reaching. Max is a young freelance reporter ("a space-rater") at the New York Herald, and his future hangs on getting a good story. When he finds four dead cats arranged in a row on a Greenwich Village sidewalk, and soon learns of more murdered felines, he's got a good scoop. After the Herald publishes his catricide story, Greengrass continues to nose around. When his most promising lead turns up dead, as does a witness to that murder, Greengrass's widening investigations introduce the reporterand the readerto a colorful mix of real and fictional politicians, religious figures, reformers, journalists and power brokers. Blaine's portrait of Manhattan in 1893 is striking both for what doesn't exist yet (sanitation, most graphically) and what does: Pete's Tavern on Irving Place, expensive dinners at the Waldorf, the Staten Island Ferry, Bellevue Hospital. The 19th-century local color makes a good mystery even more enjoyable.
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Max, a struggling 1890's reporter, stumbles across athe story of a life time when he trips over the corpsesof four cats, laid out ritualistically across a Greenwich Village sidewalk.