The Man Who Never Returned: A Novel

( 11 )

Overview

Fintan Dunne, the "Gotham version of Philip Marlowe" (Chicago Tribune) is back in a riveting new novel

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Overview

Fintan Dunne, the "Gotham version of Philip Marlowe" (Chicago Tribune) is back in a riveting new novel

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A novel that suggests a fictional resolution to a historical mystery. The disappearance of New York's Judge Joe Crater in 1930 sparked speculation for decades that has never completely dissipated. After a restaurant dinner one evening, he stepped into a taxi and was never seen again. Was he a murder victim, silenced because he was about to expose the corruption that had bought his appointment? Was he a possible embarrassment who could derail the presidential ambitions of New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt? Was he a womanizer who fell afoul of a spurned lover or perhaps a lover's mate? Maybe there was even someone who had designs on Crater's wife and wanted him out of the way. Or perhaps he vanished for reasons of his own. All of these explanations are possible, some even plausible, within the fourth novel by Quinn (Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America, 2007, etc.), a former New York publishing executive and political speechwriter. Though the author plainly knows the lay of the land through experience and research, the framing seems overcomplicated. The novel takes place on the 25th anniversary of the judge's disappearance, when a Rupert Murdoch-like journalism mogul hires detective Fintan Dunne (from Quinn's Hour of the Cat, 2005) to reopen the case. The publisher's heavily bankrolled interest seems something of a mystery to both the detective, who had been uneasily retired, and the reader. The judge never makes an appearance in the novel, except through the recollection of others, and almost all of the characters are fictional, with the notable exception of the judge's wife (or widow). "As long as people are interested in sex, crime, politics and the big city, Crater will continue to be of interest," explains an "Author's Note." But since the detective doesn't enter the picture until 25 years after the disappearance, most of his research comes from reading. Thus, despite the obligatory interludes of sex and violence, the reader spends much of the book looking over the protagonist's shoulder at what the detective is reading. This hybrid of mystery and history builds a compelling case but sets a leisurely pace in the process. . . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590206416
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 652,385
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.13 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Quinn is the author of the novel Banished Children of Eve (winner of an American Book Award) and previously served as speechwriter for New York governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. A third-generation New Yorker whose granparents were born in Ireland, he is currently Editorial Director for Time Warner and lives in Hastings, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2010

    Faction Becomes the Truth

    My students read Ragtime and believed all that was written about real people. The problem with faction is that it becomes the truth in the popular culture. Quinn should have made this a novel and eliminated Judge Crater and his poor wife. Even so it is cumbersome to read and I would not recommend it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    Simply unputdownable

    When a book has praise on its jacket with sources as varied as James Patterson and William Kennedy it's hard to know just where the book is going to fall. I was enraptured by this book from the second I picked it up. The writing is incredible as is the story- a fascinating history I learned about without even noticing it as I was so pulled into the plot. Despite being written so well one could call it "literary" it was exceptionally accessible. The author really writes New York well- hard to do- and has a gift for dialogue and humor. It has it all. HOUR OF THE CAT is shipping to me as I write this. Can't wait for another outing with Fintan Dunne.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Masterful Job

    I read Quinn's Hour of the Cat which was a very entertaining historical detective novel set in NYC in the 30s and was really looking forward to his take on the old Judge Crater disappearance. I was not disappointed. Quinn really evokes New York like no other writer. I won't spoil the ending but he does pull it all together in the end. It's a page turner!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2010

    The best New York mystery ever

    Really... ever- does for New York what Chandler did for LA.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Still Unanswered

    The mysterious disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater fascinates to this date. You won't find any answers in Peter Quinn's novel, but you will find a rather sloppy story encumbered by numerous mistakes. Even the cover jacket gets the date of the disappearance wrong. Quinn invents a story that is not without interest, but his tangents and lack of writing skills make it a bit of a slog. I liked it better than some of the other reviewers, as old New York interests me and Quinn gets a lot of that right. So take your chances, it may interest you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2010

    Interesting mixture of fact/fiction however the many spelling errors, typos and omitted words were a major distraction for me

    I wouldn't recommend this book. One dimensional characters, some scenes, it seems, were unnecessarily drawn out, which made the story drag. For me the distraction of the misspelled words and the omission of other words spoiled the story..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    But is it true?

    Peter Quinn is a terrific novelist. But is this the true story? To find out, read my book Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater and the Man He Left Behind

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Lacks a compelling story flow...

    A chore in its first hundred pages, disappointing in its conclusion, with far too many asides and didactic statements throughout, the story flickers occasionally with sporadic turns of phrase as well as some interesting clue placement. This reasonably noir-y mystery is worth one read-through, but not a return visit.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Thriller Based Around the Case of Judge Crater

    I absolutely loved this book, and read about the author's life-long interest in the disappearance of Judge Crater in The New York Times.
    Great atmosphere - New York in 1930 and 1955 - and wonderful writing. The last 100 pages are totally riveting - could not put this book down! Highly recommended!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    Pretty damn good

    I've read Quinn before (HOUR OF THE CAT & BANISHED CHILDREN OF EVE), but this is his best book yet. Fintan Dunne is back and better than ever. The book actually uses real sources of information to solve the disappearance of Judge Crater. Amazing and well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

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