Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hour of the Cat: Peter Quinn

Overview at the author's website:
On the eve of World War II, a homicide is committed in New York City, a simple murder indistinguishable from hundreds of others. But all is not as it seems. Two vastly different men— an American detective and a German admiral— are drawn into the gathering storm. It is soon plain that this case stretches far beyond the crime scene— to Nazi Germany and into a murderous conspiracy of a scope that defies imagination. With masterful command of fact and fiction, Peter Quinn transports readers to a pre-war New York brimming with atmosphere and consequence.
This book covers multiple stories in New York and Berlin, but it is the story of Fintan Dunne, an ex-policeman now working as a private detective, that I found the most memorable. Approached by a woman to save her brother from the electric chair, he takes on the case even though he is not convinced of the man's innocence. When he encounters resistance to his investigation, he begins to believe that there is validity in her view. In the end the resolution is over the top, yet I found the reading experience extremely rewarding.

My husband initially purchased this book, then passed it on to me. I will be holding on to it; I feel it is worth a reread. There are two more books to follow featuring Fintan Dunne, and I already have the second one.

My husband's review at Goodreads:
This sprawling work has elements of political and spy thriller but is mostly a tight and gritty 30's style detective novel with a great feel for time and place. Initially the plot meanders a bit and the shifts of focus between New York City and Berlin have an effect on the momentum but once it becomes clear that some grisly events in Germany are tied to some New York murders all is very good. The protagonist, private eye Dunne, is an excellent character, written with a subtlety that ensures he doesn't come off as pulp detective cliche. The inclusion of real people (Bill Donovan, Wilhelm Canaris among them) as main characters is also well handled (think E.L. Doctorow).
Links to three other reviews with more detail:
     Rob Kitchin at The View From the Blue House
     Jackie's review at Goodreads
     Review at USA Today


Publisher:   Overlook Press, 2005 
Length:       398 pages
Format:       Hardcover
Series:        Fintan Dunne #1
Setting:       New York, Berlin
Genre:        Mystery
Source:       Passed on to me by my husband.


col2910 said...

I think I might have this one. Not sure when I'll get to it!

TracyK said...

For some reason I thought you had suggested this to Glen, but now I cannot find any evidence of that, Col. However he found it, I am glad he did.

Anonymous said...

This has such an interesting premise, Tracy. And I do like a good historical novel. Sometimes, over-the-top doesn't take a lot away from a story...

col2910 said...

You know I may have - I just checked on my crime fiction alphabet journey from 2013 - and I featured this book. You commented on it, saying it looked interesting. Glen maybe picked up on that and we may have chatted on Goodreads?

TracyK said...

That could easily be, Col. And I just checked and you have the 2nd Quinn book in that series in one of your buckets. I hope I like the 2nd one as well as the first. I think I will because I like the character of Fintan Dunne.

TracyK said...

You are right, Margot, sometimes I can accept an over-the-top ending because of the overall quality of the book. And sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, as you have pointed out on your blog.

Clothes In Books said...

Oh this sounds good. I love the idea of a combination spy thriller and murder story, along with the setting and era. One for the list definitely.

TracyK said...

I do think you would like it, Moira. The multiple stories and many characters threw me a bit initially, but I don't think that would bother you at all.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, the premise of the story is certainly unusual — a sister trying to save her brother from death row. The story unfolding across two continents with two different characters does sound intriguing.

TracyK said...

Prashant, I hate to admit it but initially I had a terrible time keeping up with the characters, and I don't know if I was not paying enough attention or reading the story in little bits at at time. Once I got into it I was totally hooked.