Note: This book has been re-published under the title “Manhattan Night”. It was renamed because a movie by that name based on the book came out, so the publisher re-issued it with the movie title. Since I hate when publishers do this, I’ve chosen to review it under the original name. The Amazon link directs to the page with the updated name and appropriate info.
Colin Harrison is a writer I’ve been meaning to try for awhile. I started The Havana Room and was enjoying it but stopped for reasons I can’t remember and never came back to it. When I saw this at a book store, I decided to gobble it up since I love New York crime stories.
Depending on your threshold for such stories, you may find a lot to love about this one. This is a genre that hits my sweet spot as a reader so I loved the portrayal of 90s New York, the sights, the sounds, the changes and considering what’s changed 25 years later. Harrison does a great job evoking that era. I get the sense that he’s trying to ape Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities spiritually, if not stylistically. He does a great job.
For the first 2/3rds of this book, I thought it might make my “best of” list. But it hit a rocky patch and in doing so, made me lose patience with its eccentricities. This is a thriller in the barest sense of the word. There are thrills as it reaches its conclusion, but Harrison really just wants to do a character study of this era under the drag of a crime novel. There’s a tabloid journalist, an ingenue on the cusp of aging out, a Ruper Murdoch-esque medial mogul, a Scorsese-esque movie director whose death provides the catalyst for the plot. In the cracks of the story are the various blue collar types that make the city run.
Harrison doesn’t have much interest in plot, he just winds the characters up and let’s them do their thing. And that’s fine…but it also makes the book needlessly long. Characters go on rants that can last up to three pages, and this is a small-print large copy. It wore me out and by the end, which I found to be weak, I just wanted it to be done.
Everything around the book made me enjoy it but overall, there’s not a ton there. I’d recommend it if you have a similar yen for New York crime stories. For all its faults, it made me want to read more of Harrison’s work.