Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery

( 33 )

Overview

A beautiful young French girl walks into a bar, nervously lights a cigarette, and begs the bartender for help in finding her missing artist brother. In a moment of weakness, the bartender—a lone wolf named Caesar Stiles with a chip on his shoulder and a Sicilian family curse hanging over him—agrees. What follows is a stylish literary mystery set in Brooklyn on the dawn of gentrification.

While Caesar is initially trying to earn an honest living at the neighborhood watering hole,...

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Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery

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Overview

A beautiful young French girl walks into a bar, nervously lights a cigarette, and begs the bartender for help in finding her missing artist brother. In a moment of weakness, the bartender—a lone wolf named Caesar Stiles with a chip on his shoulder and a Sicilian family curse hanging over him—agrees. What follows is a stylish literary mystery set in Brooklyn on the dawn of gentrification.

While Caesar is initially trying to earn an honest living at the neighborhood watering hole, his world quickly unravels. In addition to being haunted by his past, including a brother who is intent on settling an old family score, Caesar is being hunted down by a mysterious nemesis known as The Orange Man. Adding to this combustible mix, Caesar is a white man living in a deep-rooted African American community with decidedly mixed feelings about his presence. In the course of his search for the French girl's missing brother, Caesar tumbles headlong into the shadowy depths of his newly adopted neighborhood, where he ultimately uncovers some of its most sinister secrets.

Taking place over the course of a single week, Outerborough Blues is a tightly paced and gritty urban noir saturated with the rough and tumble atmosphere of early 1990s Brooklyn.

Andrew Cotto has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Men's Journal, Salon.com, Teachers & Writers magazine and The Good Men Project. He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cotto follows his first novel, The Domino Effect (2011), with an ambitious noir thriller set in pre-gentrification Brooklyn. Caesar Stiles, a one-time drifter and rare white face in his predominantly African-American neighborhood, has settled down for a quiet existence working at a local bar. When Caesar agrees to help Colette, a damsel in distress from the south of France, find her missing art student brother, Jean-Baptiste Rennet, past family troubles complicate his mission. Caesar’s violent brother, just released from prison, still blames Caesar for their older brother’s death as a teenager and wants his share of their late mother’s property. Caesar must also face the threat of a mysterious gangster he calls the Orange Man in his search for Jean-Baptiste. While Cotto’s lyrical prose sometimes veers into the affected, he shows a strong sense for character and place in a novel that reads like Raymond Chandler taking dictation from Walt Whitman. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson and Lerner. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A highly unlikely detective pursues the even more unlikely trail of a missing man during Holy Week in Brooklyn. Colette Rennet's brother Jean-Baptist is missing--he stopped attending classes at the Brooklyn Art Institute soon after matriculating--and she doesn't know where he's gone. So she wanders into The Notch, a bar whose owner is universally known as the Captain, and asks Caesar Stiles, the bartender, to find him. Caesar has no experience as a detective, but his experience with crime is intimate and extensive. His grandmother emigrated from Sicily specifically to kill the man who'd traveled to America to escape her; his beloved brother Angie was struck and killed by a train during a fist fight that had migrated to the tracks; and his fearsome brother Sallie is doing time for maiming the man who nearly killed him in another fight. Caesar duly asks questions of Professor Reginald Hamersley, Jean-Baptist's art teacher; his landlady, liquor-store owner Lillian Pettaway; his neighborhood real-estate mogul Will Page, who buys buildings and flips them; and his own friend Don Brown, a one-man construction crew. But any sense of forward motion is undercut by a torrent of anecdotal memories that pull Caesar back to his travels across the U.S., the women he's loved, the men he's fought and his troubled family history. Long before Easter Sunday dawns, present and past will have merged in a definite enough resolution but no clear sense of arriving at a destination. First-time novelist Cotto's shaggy, dreamlike saga begins with a curse and ends with a redemption of sorts. What's in between is a lot less clear.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935439493
  • Publisher: Ig Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 675,337
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Andrew Cotto is a writer and teacher who lives in Brooklyn, Andrew has has contributed to many journals, including the New York Times, Men’s Journal, Salon.com, Teachers & Writers Magazine and the Good Men Project. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in Literature from Lynchburg College.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 20, 2012

    I loved this book. The main character Ceasar has a stoic self as

    I loved this book. The main character Ceasar has a stoic self assurance amidst his chaotic and dangerous life. Made me think of the movie Drive. The story itself is great and the writing is very visual in its describing various parts of Brookyln and New Orleans. Lots of great food scenes, in general.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Great book. A page turner full of beautiful language and ugly tr

    Great book. A page turner full of beautiful language and ugly truths about the human condition with just enough hope in the end.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    J

    Two plot spoilers ruined the reviews. Why cant these ppl stop with the reveals? Just state if they liked the book or not? Dont give a blow by blow reveal of the book. They arent the only ppl that can read. Most ppl can read and i bet 99.9% would rather read and be surprised by what happens than have these plot spoilers regurgitate the story for us.

    6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Pete Loveday for Readers' Favorite "Outerborou

    Reviewed by Pete Loveday for Readers' Favorite

    "Outerborough Blues” was written by Andrew Cotto. The story of Caesar Stiles is a compelling one with one week in his 20 year old life in a grim Brooklyn neighborhood. The product of a sad dysfunctional home, Caesar has many demons to live with: a missing father, a dead mother, a dead brother and a habitually violent older brother. Having left home at a young age and fending for himself he comes to us working at The Notch, a restaurant/bar run by a colorful character, the Captain. Enter an attractive French waif looking for her brother. This strikes a chord with Caesar and so begins a treacherous journey through the criminal jungle of Brooklyn. Searching for Jean-Baptist, Colette’s brother leads Caesar into some very dangerous situations with crime boss the Orange Man. In the background there is always the sadness and tragedy of Caesar’s violent home life and the deep abyss he has fallen into.

    The story is a familiar one and is well-developed with a grim and bleak look at urban reality. Though not familiar with Brooklyn, thanks to skilful writing, I had a feel for the reality of the area. This book will appeal to all lovers of dark, dysfunctional mysteries. Andrew Cotto has done a fantastic job with the development of the interesting characters in the story. This book would have required a great deal of research to maintain its realism. Well-written and ingeniously crafted, this story is a stark reminder of that other life that is just beyond the tracks.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    You Need to Buy This Book ASAP!

    Have you ever read a book that you know you will read again and again? ‘Outerborough Blues’ is now a book on my list. Andrew Cotto has a style of writing that is lyrical and commanding. He skilfully draws the reader’s attention with the voice of Caesar Stiles as he tells the history of his family’s lineage.

    Caesar Stiles is a man haunted by his past. A drifter recently come back to Brooklyn looking to set down roots and create a ‘normal’ life for himself. He takes a job in a local joint called The Notch as a bartender and cook minding his own business and doing a good job of it until an attractive French girl walks in to the bar, orders a drink and enlists him to find her missing brother. Stiles agrees and his quiet little world is thrown off kilter.

    In the course of his search for the artist Stiles finds himself rooting around in the seedy side of Brooklyn’s underground; a place of drug addicts, prostitution and organized crime. Stiles begins to notice a car tailing him and a growing pile of cigarette butts outside of his front gate. Someone is watching him leaving a crawling feeling down his spine wondering who it could be. Having crossed a nefarious individual who he calls The Orange Man, Stiles is worried the man may be looking to retaliate.

    Caesar’s past soon catches up with him in the form of his ex-convict brother who has a violent temper usually directed in Caesar’s direction and this time isn’t an exception. His brother is the one who has been watching Caesar’s house and begins making demands. With his brother on the warpath, the search for the missing man, and a beating from a group of local thugs, Stile’s life spirals out of control in the course of one week.

    With his second novel Andrew Cotto has firmly carved a niche for himself in the mystery genre. A teacher and seasoned writer with published works in many publications, Andrew has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in Literature from Lynchburg College. He presently spends his time teaching composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City.


    This book was received graciously by the author for review.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    Kathy

    I found this book very mediocre at best. I had to stop partway or die of boredom. On to something better.
    Kathy

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  • Posted March 11, 2014

    Found out about this book after having read another book written

    Found out about this book after having read another book written by Cotto, The Domino Effect. Having just finished reading Outerborough Blues, I can attest to the fact that Cotto's ability to write in a descriptive manner allows the reader to be drawn into the book in a manner that makes the reader feel as if they're witnessing the events within the book first-hand. Cotto's writing style and gritty dialogue between the characters within this noir allows the reader to visualize the what Brooklyn once was. Personally, I felt as though I was touring Brooklyn in a past that I otherwise would never have known. The author manages to address issues such as gentrification and racial tension in a manner that captivates the reader's attention, raises awareness of what Brooklyn once was, and helps the reader genuinely appreciate Brooklyn's past (and present). The novel is complex in nature in that the reader must focus on details. However, the author manages to tie all details of the story by the conclusion of the novel. The characterization of Ceasar captivates the reader's attention from the very first page of the book. Despite a broken past, the character of Caesar exudes a level of confidence that attracts others (individuals that serve to help as well as hurt him). Themes of this book include family, redemption, and closure. The reader experiences the joy of actually experiencing the adventures Caesar endures. Highly recommended read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    So slow

    I liked this book enough to finish it but it is so...slow...and...hard...to...get through (with only 143 pages). The character ruminates so often and so long on his past that the actual story gets lost.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2013

    A Good and easy read

    Enjoyable and fast paced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Sloppy

    Starts out well, then the plot gets sloppy and doesn't move forward well.

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  • Posted September 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommend

    I liked the characters and the naration. A great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Not Recommended

    For me it was an extremely difficult book to follow. You keep thinking that it will get better but you never get to that point.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    OK

    Just OK. Nothing special.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    an enjoyable read

    I could almost see the TV show or movie in it. Not deep but good.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    I recommend VERY highly!

    This book was great. It kept moving, never a slow or dead spot. Very descriptive and made you really like the lead character. Someone that everyone can relate too.

    I enjoyed that some things were explored in detail and others were left to the imagination.

    I would recommend this book to anyone that likes to read. It wasn't a book I would normally choose but I'm so happy I did!

    Take a chance it's worth the ride.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Not much of a novel

    Writes a good sentence, but no sense of narrative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Outstanding novel by an artist with words

    Reading this book was a lot like listening to a Beethoven symphony. You immediately realize you are enjoying a rare piece of classic art. The book is well worth the time just for the lyrical language - a real pleasure to read. The story is fascinating, but, at times brutal, and the reality of Brooklyn colors everything. I may read it again soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Good try

    Cesar Stiles is a little too good to be true. Handy with knife, good with all women, master chef, master carpenter, and all around clever good guy. Women characters are shallow and stereotyped. Could be a decent book if the main character was repurposed a little and the women had more depth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Good summer read

    It has been a while that I have not put down a book due to wanting to read it from beginning to end but this book was a pleasant surprise.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    This book was ok

    THIS BOOK WAS ALRIEGHT

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews

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