The 1790s were a violent and tumultuous period in New York’s history. Paddy Hirsch has captured this in minute detail through the events and emotions of cleverly constructed characters and a multilayered plot in The Devil’s Half Mile.
Hirsch has meticulously researched the era in which the story is set, providing details of the 1792 financial crisis and other historical and political events in his debut whodunnit. The inclusion of a glossary for time-relevant terminology used in the story is very helpful but, not being something I am accustomed to, I did not find it until I reached the end of the tale. It was good to see that I could work my way past some words without losing meaning nor flow however.
In 1799, after four years studying law in Ireland and fighting in the Irish Rebellion against the English, central character Justy Flanagan returns to Manhattan, new evidence in hand to seek the truth of his father’s death, when he was just fourteen. Justy believes that the supposed hanging suicide of his stock trader father was, in fact, murder.
The story contains gang unrest and racist tensions as the bodies of slain young slave women continue to appear whilst Justy continues to search for the truth of his father’s demise. He believes there is a connection and works to put the pieces together, having to make hard choices about his direction and uncovering a huge financial fraud along the way.
An intricate story that has you second guessing everything throughout the tale. This is not a book to read a couple of pages at a time then wander away from. It is a true page turner and a historical thriller for anyone who loves a good book with a twist.
Reviewed by Leanne Caune
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: August 2018