22 March 2016

Review #377: The Letter Writer by Dan Fesperman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Nothing awakens the conscience like a lot of money.”

----P. Sainath

Dan Fesperman, an award-wining American author, pens his new historical crime fiction, The Letter Writer that narrates the story of a newly appointed detective in NYPD who gets tangled up in a murder investigation and that is when he meets a mysterious, strange and highly knowledgeable man. Set in the post World War II New York, the author composes an intriguing as well as thrilling tale of lies, money scam, murder, scandal and corruption laced with an unusual friendship.


The first thing Woodrow Cain sees when he steps off the train in New York City on February 9, 1942, is smoke from an ocean liner in flames in the harbor. It's the Normandie, and word on the street is that it was burned by German saboteurs. "Ten lousy minutes in New York and already his new life felt as full of loss and betrayal as the one he'd left behind."

What he left behind in a small North Carolina town was a wife who’d left him, a daughter in the care of his sister, and a career as a police officer marred by questions surrounding his partner’s murder. When he gets a job with the NYPD, he wants to believe it’s the beginning of a new life, though he suspects that the past is as tenacious as "a parasite in the bloodstream."

It's on the job that Cain comes in contact with a man who calls himself Danziger. He has the appearance of a "crackpot," but he speaks five languages, has the manners of a man of means and education — and he appears to be the one person who can help Cain identify a body just found floating in the Hudson River. But who exactly is Danziger? He's a writer of letters for illiterate immigrants on Manhattan’s Lower East Side — "a steadfast practitioner of concealing and forgetting" for his clients, and perhaps for himself: he hints at a much more worldly past. What and whoever he really is or has been, he has a seemingly boundless knowledge of the city and its denizens. And he knows much more than the mere identity of the floating corpse. For one thing, he knows how the dead man was involved in New York City's "Little Deutschland," where swastikas were proudly displayed just months before. And he also seems to know how the investigation will put Cain — and perhaps his daughter and the woman he’s fallen for — in harm's way. But even Danziger can't know that the more he and Cain investigate, the nearer they come to the center of a citywide web of possibly traitorous corruption from which neither of them may get out alive.

Cain arrives in the New York City as a detective in the NYPD and that is when he meets a mysterious, challenging man, named, Danziger, who helps him to solve a murder investigation as his side kick. Eventually, this simple murder investigation reveals a lot of for bidden secrets about the then American government, it's corruption, money laundering and conspiracy between the Nazi and the Americans. What they stumbles on, reveals a hidden and unspoken past about American history right after the World War II where greed became too important for some.

The author's writing style is fantastic and is laced with suspense. The narrative is thoroughly engaging and that kept me glued to the story till its very end. The mystery is laid out pretty strongly as there are few twists and turns that will only make the readers overwhelmed and keep them anticipating till the very end. This is a fast paced thriller, which is filled with adrenaline-rushing action scenes which are projected with lots of depth and strikingly.

The location of New York city and that too in the 1940s has been painted quite vividly. The author has captured the city life in the post WWII era with proper detailing of the streets, buildings, fashion, culture, politics, people and everything. Yes I felt I was easily transported as well as teleported in that era near the Statue of Liberty in NYC.

The characters are interesting, flawed and sharp. Both the characters of Cain and Danziger, are painted with lot of backstory that justifies their current demeanor and yes the readers can easily be able to comprehend with them. The negative characters are also quite well-developed and are convincing enough in their demeanor.

Overall, this is an engrossing as well as enlightening novel that unveils a lot about American and Nazi involvement in corruption and money scam during the post WWII era.

Verdict: Crime fiction fan s must watch out for this upcoming novel.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Dan Fesperman, for giving me an opportunity to read and review an ARC of his book.

Author Info:
Dan Fesperman’s travels as a writer have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Association of Crime Writers. He lives in Baltimore.
Visit him here

Book Purchase Links:


Post a Comment

Thanks for your feedback!