Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blue Eyes, Jerome Charyn (3.5 stars)

Blue Eyes Book Summary
A cop and his disgraced mentor attempt to bust a white slavery ring.

Before Isaac Sidel adopts him, Manfred Coen is a mutt. A kid from the Bronx, he joins the police academy after his father’s suicide leaves him directionless, and is trudging along like any other cadet when first deputy Sidel, the commissioner’s right hand man, comes looking for a young cop with blue eyes to infiltrate a ring of Polish smugglers. He chooses Coen, and asks the cadet to join his department after he finishes the academy. Working under Sidel means fast promotions, plush assignments, and, when a corruption scandal topples his mentor, the resentment of every rank-and-file detective on the force.

Now just an ordinary cop, Coen hears word that his old mentor has a line on a human trafficking operation. When Sidel’s attempt at infiltration fails, he sends in Coen. For Coen, it’s a shot to prove himself and redeem his mentor, but it could cost the blue-eyed cop his life.

Blue Eyes reads like a gritty exposé of New York City in the 1970s. Corruption, greed, family ties, and questionable loyalties abound. Manfred Coen is loyal to his mentor, Isaac Sidel, and weakened by the town whore, Odile. But where others' loyalties lie is constantly evolving.

Coen, through a series of twist and turns and changing family allegiances, is thrust into the dirty world of ping-pong hustling and human trafficking. Young girls are being sold, but even that storyline isn't as black and white as it sounds.

Although this is the first Isaac Sidel mystery, Isaac is not a main character. Yet, he manages to be the force behind much of the story. Just enough of his character is revealed to entice the reader to want to know more about him, especially since his sphere of influence is so large.

So much was going on with this story and so many characters introduced, I was often confused. If I had time, I'd definitely want to re-read and catch the nuances of the many characters and sub-plots. Each character was ultimately crucial to the story, but similar sounding names (Chino, Coen, Cesar, Chinaman) and changing references (sometimes Manfred, sometimes Coen, Freddy?) left me overwhelmed.

About halfway through, I finally had enough background to really connect with the story. Once I did, it was a fast and engaging ride. Don't give up early on.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy crime and mystery novels that are no-holds-barred. You'll be mesmerized by Charyn's well-crafted world and story.

Rating: 3.5 stars

(It will be rated a 4 on GoodReads and Amazon, since it's closer to a 4 than a 3 and only full stars are allowed.)

Blue Eyes Book Trailer

About Jerome Charyn
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.

In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

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Note: I received a complimentary copy from Tribute Books for review purposes. No other compensation was received. A positive review was not guaranteed or asked for; the views expressed are my own.

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The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson said...

Well crafted review - thanks for reading and liking Blue Eyes. Hope you get into the second one soon (it's Marilyn the Wild, a prequel to Blue Eyes.) Spoiler alert, it starts off in bed.
Yours in noir,

Tribute Books said...

Tia, thanks for the review!

Tia Bach said...

Thank you, Lenore. Start in bed... intriguing. I'll have to check that out.

Thanks, Nicole, for bringing some interesting reads to me!