The authenticity of this first novel by Thomas Fitzsimmons fairly
jumps off the page. With good reason: Following his service in the
Navy during the Vietnam War, the author was an NYC cop for a decade in
the notorious section of the South Bronx known as Fort Apache. Not
surprisingly, his protagonist, Michael Beckett, has a similar
background, which also includes acting on tv, the fictional aspect
having Beckett portray – what else? – a cop, on the show “Law &
Order.” Although there is the requisite disclaimer, there are
immediately recognizable references to an incident infamous in New
York City history, wherein an unarmed man named Amadou Diallo was
gunned down by police in what was literally a hail of gunfire; a
well-known local black leader known for inflammatory appearances at
anything smacking of possible police prejudice or wrongdoing, here
named “Dullard” instead of “Sharpton,” etc.
The action is disturbingly realistic, portraying the dope dealers,
pimps, corruption, bad cops, and poverty rampant in such sections of
almost any large city in the country, and the dedication of most
members of the police force who try to make them safe and livable.
When a hugely wealthy real estate mogul has plans for a large section
of real estate, forcible evictions are only part of his modus
operandi, and the fact that the mayor, the police commissioner and
some of the cops are in his pocket makes matters that much easier for
him. But when a young girl and her infant daughter become victims of
his ruthlessness, Beckett and his volatile partner, Vinnie D’Amato,
are determined to obtain justice for them, with Beckett becoming
obsessed to the point of putting both of their lives, and their
careers, on the line.
As noted, this was the first of many books, fiction and otherwise, by
this author, and that fact is reflected in the somewhat unpolished
writing. But ultimately the gripping realism of the tale won out.
The book was a fast, suspenseful read, and is recommended.
[It should perhaps be noted that the book was previously published by
Forge Books as “City of Fire” in March, 2009. The author has
re-released the novel now under its original title. It is available
through Amazon and Barnes & Noble only
Review by Gloria Feit