Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How's he doin'? He's gettin' closer. In his second appearance, New York City mayor-for-life Ed Koch shows more life than he did in Murder at City Hall. Among the audience at the Broadway musical, The Last Laugh, Koch and his friend, newspaper gossip columnist Sybil Baker, see lead actor Conor Matthews shotas he is every night in the play. Only this time the gun isn't shooting blanks. Another homicide right in front of His Honor, the Mayor. Koch combines his street smarts and mayoral connections as he hunts for the murderer. The Last Laugh, he learns, hasn't been selling well lately, and it wouldn't be beyond its vainglorious composer, Nolan MacDougall, to stage a murder to help the box office. Or might Beau Walton, the previous lead who left for Hollywood but can't get arrestedas an actorwant his old part back? With Sybil supplying the inside scoop, Koch casts a suspicious eye on Matthews's fiance, Kellie Farrell, who played the female lead, and her new lover, Wesley Fink, the actor who fired the fatal shot. And what exactly do all those books by Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Plath in Matthews's dressing room mean anyway? Although this effort is a step up from his first, readers will still wish for more undiluted Koch and his take on the streets of New York in the next installment. (July)
In Koch's second outing (following Murder at City Hall, LJ 9/1/95), a Broadway actor is killed on stage by his costar and romantic rival. Koch modestly casts himself in the role of sleuthing mayor-for-life, hitting the case with the help of gossip columnist Sybil Baker. "How'm I doing?" Not great, Ed.
Readers who find New Yorkers' in-your-face attitude appealing will enjoy former mayor Koch's latest mystery/memoir. It's obvious that Mr. Mayor can't quite let go of the glory years, but if readers can overlook his almost nonstop self-flattery, there's a nicely inventive plot and a cast of intriguing characters waiting to be discovered. The fictional Koch is attending a popular Broadway musical whose plot involves a love triangle. At the height of the action, the female lead is supposed to shoot one of her lovers. But this night, to the audience's horror, the shots that ring out are real, and one of the cast members lies dead on stage. Of course, Koch figures to outsmart both the NYPD and the murderer, and to no one's surprise, he's ultimately successful, winning the approbation of the press, theatergoers, and his many fans. Like Koch, this mystery is flamboyant, over the top, and pushy. But it's also clever and entertaining.
Captures perfectly a very specific New York.
-- The New York Times Book Review
An unexpected thrill for the jaded audience on hand for the tenth anniversary gala of Nolan MacDougall's musical The Last Laugh: When jealous Wesley Fisk shoots leading man Conor Matthews in the last act, the bullets are real. New York's finest take leading lady Kellie Farrell, whose engagement to Matthews didn't prevent her from warming Fisk's sheets, for the perp. But Fisk has an equally strong motive, too, as do Matthews's understudy Jonathan Patrelli, hungry for his own chance on the Great White Way, and Matthews's predecessor Beau Walton, whose defection to Hollywood has been such a thumping failure that he'd love to be back in the cast. Luckily, towering over all these petty puppets is that paragon of big-city mayors, Ed Koch, who's unfailingly caring, sincere, considerate of his many underlings, and a whiz of an amateur sleuth, with a gimlet eye for everybody's vanities but his own. "When I'm wrong, I'm always willing to admit it," says Koch, but he never has to admit it, because the police are even more baffled by the slender mystery than he is.
Coauthor Staub, batting for Herbert Resnicow (Murder at City Hall, 1995), doesn't bring much to the party, so the field is wide open for Koch's inimitably self-aggrandizing charm. Your move.