JFK assassination buffs will enjoy bushwhacking their way through this labyrinthine debut. Young Danish cultural attach Egil Ekdahlengaged in hawking the KGB's file on Lee Harvey Oswald to the highest bidderturns up murdered in a particularly grisly fashion, and NYPD Detective Francis X. Byrne is given the joyless task of finding his killer. Almost immediately, he locates one of Ekdahl's many sex partners, a fabulous Dane called Ingrid Bentsen, who connects him to New York's hot Euro club scene. But Byrne also discovers the lowlights of Ekdahl's career: a distinguished regular at a gay S&M club in the West Village, he was once caught on tape slicing a girl's throat during intercourse somewhere in Russia. Even more shocking is the presence of another bit player in that little movierogue FBI agent Tom Byrne, Frank's sadistic older brother. Tom appears to know more than Frank about a family secret so bizarre and devastating it rocks Frank's world when, through a scrim of pain and denial, he begins at last to glimpse it. The final 100 pages of this book offer a series of explosive surprises, from the identity of Ekdahl's killer to the truth about Byrne's own heritage. There isn't much Walsh doesn't know about the JFK assassination, and the background research for this virtuoso novel feels thorough. Weaving from the worst of the Russian prison camps to Manhattan's elite European demimonde, from Brighton Beach's vicious Russian mobs to Little Italy's complacently murderous families, Walsh orchestrates a gripping tale of the horrors that were set in motion the day a president was murdered. (July)
In this powerful debut novel Michael Walsh delivers an unparalleled jolt of dark, scintillating suspense that blends John Le Carre with James Ellroy.
Lt. Francis X. Byrne, a smart, ambitious homicide detective on the rise, lives in a rundown Hell's Kitchen apartment and knows far less about his own life than he believes. Struggling with his temper, his drinking and his relationship with a woman who has him outclassed, Byrne is trying to solve the gruesome slaying of a Danish diplomat and following the trail of Egil Ekdhal's short life into a world where beautiful people play the most dangerous of games.
But as Byrne gets closer to Ekdahl's true identity, he collides with the one man he loathes more than any other: his own FBI agent brother. Tom Byrne has broken every rule in pursuit of a spy's Holy Grail: the KGB's top-secret file on Lee Harvey Oswald. It's a dossier that the FBI, the CIA and even the Mafia desperately want—a file stained by blackmail, intimidation and suicide.
Time editor and respected journalist Walsh debuts with an uneven international thriller starring New York cop Francis X. Byrne, Lee Harvey Oswald, a host of Mafia dons, and plenty of Eurotrash. When the sexually molested corpse of a John Doe is discovered in upstate New York in a car with diplomatic plates, it seems the only evidence at the scene is a photograph of Detective Byrne's mother. The victim is Danish cultural attach Egil Ekdahl, a young man who had a penchant for kinky sex. As Byrne finds himself obsessed with stunning Ingrid Bentsen, also of the Danish Consul's office, his brother Tom, an FBI agent, shows up brandishing his own agenda and claiming Ingrid as his fiance. The Mob, Tom, and a number of factions are after an elusive KGB file on Oswald's stint in the Soviet Union. This novel is raunchy and occasionally rough going, but Byrne is an engaging protagonist, and Walsh shows promise.Susan A. Zappia, Maricopa Cty. Lib. Dist., Phoenix
Densely plotted New York tough-cop procedural that incongruously mixes gruesome walks on the wild side with KGB-CIA intrigue.
Beginning initially inside a secret CIA dungeon, this first novel from music journalist Walsh (Andrew Lloyd Webber, not reviewed, etc.) quickly cuts to the discovery of a naked, bullet-ridden, castrated male corpse in the Rockland County woods not far from an abandoned BMW with Danish diplomatic plates registered to a Manhattan address. NYPD Homicide Lieutenant Francis X. Byrne studies the corpse in the gruff and tough style we expect from seen-it-all New York cops until he finds, inside the BMW, a photo of two women, one of whom seems to be Byrne's mother minus 30 or so years. The unsettled Byrne pockets the photo, makes a call on the Danish consulate, and lets Ingrid, who's not afraid to be a sexy Danish cliché spy, take him (as a prelude to seduction) through some of Manhattan's more disgusting kinky sex clubsclubs that were frequented by the murder victim, a Danish consulate employee named Egil Ekdahl, who had his own perverse version of an Oedipus complex. Walsh punctuates numerous in-your-face close-ups of urban debauch with giddy flashbacks that reveal Ekdahl's true identity as a KGB spy who had something to do with a Russian defector who may have been a KGB spy with information about Lee Harvey Oswald and a plot to kill John F. Kennedy. The story falls apart when Byrne's sputtering, mean-spirited brother Tom, an FBI agent, swaggers onto the scene with revelations about Cold War sexual blackmail and the news that nothing is as it seems, including their dear old mom. Byrne is forced to accept the notion that good and evil are relative in more ways the one.
Crisply written and thoroughly preposterous mean-streeter. An afterword implies a factual basis to some of the author's fictive imaginings.
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