Night Life: David Taylor
Within the world there are people that fight crime, want justice and seek to protect the public. But, in the same world there are others that go on witch-hunts to weed out those with descending thoughts, ideas and opinions in order to prove that they are stronger, have more power and are untouchable. The time period is the McCarthy era when Joseph McCarthy went on a rampage to blacklist, arrest and hunt down anyone suspected of siding or being part of the Communist Party. Within this story we meet on New Year’s Eve 1953 a dynamic character in Detective Michael Cassidy. McCarthy is more than just a force to be reckoned with he brings along with him a whole entourage of people, namely Hoover, and a man named Roy Cohn who from the start has it in for our Detective. While McCarthy, goes on his Communist hunt and presides over his subcommittee, railroading innocent victims at all cost, Roy Cohn and Michael Cassidy have a run in which would spiral out of control and filter down into Michael’s family causing him to realize the magnitude of this man’s wrath.
Within this same complex story we learn why Cassidy was where this Wisconsin lawyer was, how his car was blocked and the reasons why he was at this particular scene. Alex Ingram, a Broadway dancer was tortured to death in his apartment located in Hell’s Kitchen. The killer after taking him out began searching his apartment for something he never found. Cassidy however, is smart, clever and realizes that there has to be a reason for the death and upon searching himself finds a silver half dollar hidden and wrapped for safekeeping and decides to take it and investigate on his own. Solving this murder brings him in contact with many unsavory individuals, at odds with this boss and often attacked when blindsided. As Tom Cassidy is father, a theater producer becomes the victim of McCarthy’s wrath, he and his family have to face the end result, which could be tragic. Arrested, thrown in jail and told he might or would be deported Cassidy meets up with one man that just might be able to help him. But, first he has to find what Ingram has hidden and hand it over to him. Frank Costello is a powerful man whose hold goes way past that of any government official. Learning that Ingram might have photos that would incriminate or embarrass some powerful people, Cassidy goes on a hunt of his own to learn more about Ingram, has a run in with some of his own fellow cops, winds up in the hospital but not before a mysterious young woman named Dylan shows up in his building. A relationship that could be great or toxic.
Things heat up as his father relies on his good friend and mob boss Costello to bail him out, the CIA wants Cassidy’s help and another man is tortured and murdered. Who can he trust? Orso, his partner and Cassidy find themselves the target of many and someone is following his every move. When his sister goes with Tom’s wife to have a procedure done, who is reporting her actions to someone and why? Eyes are all over and no one is immune.
With J. Edgar Hoover taking center stage and the author providing the history and research behind his power, his manner and his reign, Night Life brings back the harsh realities of the time period and focuses on important men who spend their days supposedly handling government business and their nights …….! But, as each incident or murder happens and Michael somehow knows it beforehand or as it is about to occur. Are they nightmares or telepathic dreams that become realities that haunt him while awake? Is he dreaming or is someone really gunning to kill him and why?
Throwing a vice cop out of a three story window is where our story begins and explains the revenge of the cops.
The real story takes off a bit later, when Cassidy and his partner Orso chase down a robbery suspect. In the process of cuffing the perp they bounce him like a pinball off of the car of an annoyed Roy Cohn, who was the hired gun and hatchet man for Senator Joe McCarthy. After that he finds some clues that lead him to a convoluted case of murder and blackmail involving the CIA and FBI. At the same time, a vengeful Cohn decides to make Mike’s life hell by denouncing his father and rail-roading him all the way back to Russia.
While Tom Cassidy was arrested and charged and picked up by Immigration Officers stating that he lied on his citizenship application an offense that is not punishable by deportation but someone in a very high place was sending Michael a serious message. As Michael related what happened when he was covering a robbery and where Roy Cohn comes into play the handwriting becomes much clearer on the wall and the end result is understood.
While Michael investigates Ingram’s murder even though told her was off the case, he realizes that Ingram must have had something that someone else wanted. Meeting with someone named Scalabrine would enlighten him as to the what. Photographs that were taken by Ingram would provide a valuable market for someone and would expose something that no one wanted known. Why did the FBI care about this case? Who was Dylan and where did she come from? Photos of who or what to provide leverage fro something and a reporter named Rhonda that takes big chance to find out more. So, when he and his partner are told to give everything to Newly and Bonner, two other detectives, Michael agrees but to a point. The tension builds and danger increases lives are at stake and many will die before all is revealed.
Victor Amado agreed to give Michael some information on Ingram that might help but someone decided to give him the deep freeze first. Imagining the events, dreaming his death and thinking something was going to happen to this man, Michael becomes aware that something in him might signal the future, has no answers for these dreams yet when reality sets in it can be frightening. Added in Frank Costello, his godfather, wants answers too and the photos before he will even begin to help free his father. Everyone wants something and loyalties shift and many will make promises while others fall short. A graphic description of what happened to Amado is vividly described in Chapter 18. The key to the mystery is a fifty-cent piece that Ingram hit in his locker backstage at the theater. Taking it out and fingering it Michael realizes that something about this coin is odd and what is imbedded within the coin you just won’t believe.
Pressure from the CIA and an agent named Crofoot whose real motives are anything but honorable and a man named Edward Fraker who does his dirty work as the author recaps that Ingram, Amado and two others were in this suite when whatever happened and the photos were taken. Each time Michael tries to reason with possible victims and the next is a lawyer named Freed, they wind up dead. Just who is watching his every move and who wants Michael to get the photos but make sure he does not survive to talk? While explaining what happens to Greed and the deals made to pay rent and his commission you might say for very important people, somehow the walls have ears and Freed winds up the next victim and only one is left. Stanley Fisher works as a window decorator for Lord and Taylor. Great work, great designs but not available when Cassidy and Orso came to speak with him. Last but not least is Perry Werth. What happens next lets readers know that no matter how hard they tried and no matter what they offered these men no one seemed to realize the danger they were in or the gravity of the situation. Just who was Alex Ingram and who was he really you just won’t believe his real role and why these photos would do more than must damage those in them but our country as well. As you read pages 208-209 you will learn the hidden truth as Michael sees the light in a different direction and realizes that just maybe someone else is not what they appear to be and their appearance might have been planned.
Blindsided by his feelings and allowing himself to become vulnerable what happens when he finally confronts those within the “Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film.” Wikipedia. As the negatives are revealed and what is in them is known just how does Michael do to stir the pot even further, convince those involved he only has four negatives and just what is in the one that remains hidden?
Deals are made and lives are at stake as Michael enters a room where two powerful men are having their form of a tryst you might say. What would happen if what they have concealed within the negatives and the room is revealed? What does Michael threaten if his father is not released? What about his sister and his brother being fired from his job? Just how far does McCarthy and Cohn’s power go as Michael races the clock, tries to beat the ship and hopefully save his father before it’s too late. A deal that goes south and a promise that is not kept and a man that will not give up until justice is done his way.
Detective Michael Cassidy uses his own leverage, his own tenacity and persistence to overcome obstacles and prove his loyalty to his father and family. An ending that lets readers know that there is much more to come and that someone who he distrusts just might not be who or what he thinks. Will he save his father? What about the cop that is blackmailing his sister? Just how much and how many can he fight? Find out when you read this outstanding, action packed and research based novel that lets readers know just how far McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover would go to protect Americans according to their definition.
Detective Michael Cassidy: before all is said and done someone will try and end it all. Will he be the next victim or will our talented author save him to bring back again? Night Life: Be careful you never know whose watching and lurking in the dark!
These are my thoughts and they stand as written.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews