Wednesday, August 3, 2016
About the Book
On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.
Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.
New York City is one corrupt place. Even the heroin names don't mean what they say, since the Black Sail variety isn't black at all, it's white. And that's where things get sticky. It's hot, sweat-through-your-shirt kind of hot, where on the sidewalks there's steam coming out of the grates, billowing out of the broiling subway tunnels below ground. Everyone's uncomfortable and irritated, right when the biggest party in the last 200 years is about to get underway.
Let's go back in time to 1976, the year of the country's Bicentennial. There are celebrations going on all over the country, but as everyone knows, the eyes of the world will be on New York, a city of messy contradictions. There's a nice feel for New York in this book, and how the five different boroughs are made up of varying ethnic neighborhoods. The Bronx is the Wild West. Queens is the Mets and what's left of the World's Fair. Brooklyn is making an attempt at gentrification, but not doing too well at it. And Manhattan's shoving it in everyone face that it's the best, and will always be the best (even though the view of the skyline is actually better from Brooklyn or Queens). And don't concern yourself about Staten Island. Besides the ferry, it's not even worth mentioning.
But what ties it all together is the cumulative sense of despair, hanging in the sultry air, painting a grim picture of post-Vietnam America. People aren't angry anymore. There's no point. They know the country's gone to pot, and there's nothing they, or anyone else, can do about it. There's a fatalism to the whole thing, like let's be happy for one day and pretend everything's great, before we have to wake up in the morning and realize it's not.
In the story, most New Yorkers kick off their weekend of binge drinking on a Thursday night, with the real diehards continuing well into the following Wednesday. It's surmised that they're trying to anesthetize themselves to the hopelessness of the day and age they're living in, which in turn, is heavily contributing to the drug problem infesting the city.
We tend to look back with a sentimental eye on the New York of the 1970s, but it wasn't so nice. It was a tough, gritty world that I don't think many of us would care to visit. The city had over 1,600 murders in one year. The Bronx was burning. Times Square was nothing but peep shows and porn. It's no wonder people were down about the future. I mean, what was there to feel excited about? A bunch of tall ships in the harbor? Big deal, when there are drug dealers on every corner.
This is a novel that really captures the essence of a specific time and place in American history, and does so through the lens of a crime story. In its pages, the FBI, the NYPD, the IRS, the FCC—every institution in the United States is shown to be corrupt. Everyone's on the take, out for their own self-interest. It makes you ponder the question the book ultimately raises: Can one man really make a difference… Can he now?
A Black Sail can be pre-ordered at:
Barnes and Noble
Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Release: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Camel Press
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About the Author
Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).
The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.
"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.
Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.
In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction.
Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.
Links to connect with Rich:
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