New_Yorked_cover_finalAsh McKenna wakes up one morning from a drunken blackout to find a voice mail from his ex-girlfriend, left moments before she was murdered. He sets out on a quest-qua-vendetta to find her killer, and everything unravels from there. New Yorked is part Eight Million Ways to Die, and part Red Harvest meets the Warriors.

As a detective novel, New Yorked is good. It hits the expected high notes of the genre while providing enough novelty to keep it the story fresh and interesting. By that standard alone, New Yorked is a solid four star story with great pacing, an interesting protagonist, and plenty of action. However, the brilliance of New Yorked–and what kicks it up to five stars for me–is the parallel of Ash’s relationship to his murdered girlfriend and his relationship to the city. As an existential meditation on the struggle against mortality, this book is a thing of near perfection.

*New York* is the real victim of the novel–or, at least, the New York that Ash McKenna once loved. While he’s searching for the literal killer who murdered his ex, he guides the reader on a tour of the people responsible for murdering his real love, the once dirty, dangerous New York you had to earn your way into. The “gents” (out of towners responsible for the gentrification of the city), hipsters, and long time residents more interested in profit than preservation all have a stab at the heart of his true love, while all also punishing Ash for daring to stand up for what the city once represented. He takes a beating and with every wound he’s a little more “New Yorked”–a little more transformed by others’ plans for and designs upon him.

New Yorked is at once a vibrant paean to the city as well as a mournful threnody for personal identity and civic belonging all wrapped up in a thrilling hardboiled adventure. To paraphrase the saying: you fall in love with the city, but the city does not fall in love with you. This is exactly why Rob Hart is one of my favorite writers!


~ by poǝןɔɐɯ uǝʞɔɐɹq on 10/05/2015.

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