The year is 1799 and New York is a growing town that is busting at the seams.
Irish gangs rule the waterfront and the seedy sides of town, but the black gangs are starting to make their presence felt, especially with the growth of the Manumission movement.
Meanwhile, the nobs are trying to establish New York as the financial powerhouse of America, especially around Wall Street - the Devil's Half Mile.
Seven years ago, there was a financial crisis that nearly brought everything crashing down, but the country is now recovered, thanks to the intervention of eminient characters like Alexander Hamilton. Things are going well for the traders, but there is a certain amount of unease due to the trading regulations that are being drawn up, in order to ensure that another crash can be avoided.
Justice Flanagan, a young lawyer, has returned to New York, after studying the law back in Ireland. Justice's studies have been supplemented by studying the ways of the fledgling police force in Paris, which has given him some expertise in the methods employed to kill and the new study of forensics. His killing skills have also been honed by a sideline in scouting for the Irish Rebels during the Rebellion, while he was a student.
Justice's time as an erstwhile soldier has left its mark and may have affected him more than he realises.
Newly returned, Justice is on a mission to find out the circumstances behind the death of his father, around the time of the crisis. His father's death was made to look like suicide, but Justice believes that he was in fact murdered - a belief that has been confirmed by the specialist training he has received. He intends to find out why his father was killed and who was behind this.
Justice's return has also reunited him with some old friends - his comrade Lars, who fought with him during the Rebellion and is now a sailor; and with the grown-up Kerry O'Toole who he remembers fondly as a young girl full of promise, but who is deeply scarred by her experiences during Justice's absence.
As Justice undertakes his investigations, he exposes a massive fraud, which could topple the financial world all over again. He must fight his way through the web of secrets and lies, corruption and cover-ups, in the murky worlds of finance and slavery in order to uncover the shocking truth. It is not easy to walk the line between criminality and respectability.
I read book two in the Lawless New York series, Hudson's Kill, back in March, and was absolutely bowled over by it. The writing, the story and the characters were so enjoyable, that I practically read the whole book in one sitting.
Having enjoyed Hudson's Kill so much,I was very keen to go back and read The Devil's Half Mile to fill in all the back stories of my new favourite characters. I have not been disappointed.
There is a different flavour to this book than book two, as the story is much more personal to Justy and it is more difficult for him to be controlled in his actions. This is compounded by his recent experiences during The Irish Rebellion - some of the things Justy has seen, and been forced to do, have deeply affected him. Justy does not want to become part of the criminal world, despite his family ties, so he must learn to find a way to live with himself.
Fortunately, Justy has some good friends to help him on his journey, especially the trusty Lars. Along the way, Kerry can also begin her recovery too.
The financial details about the early days of Wall Street are very interesting, and the plot goes along at a good pace. The threads come together nicely and everything ends up well set up for Hudson's Kill, which begins four years after the events of The Devil's Half Mile.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I am very glad you chose to write this, Paddy Hirsch, rather than the history of the 1792 crash you originally planned!
The Devil's Half Mile is out now in paperback, and Hudson's Kill will be released on 4th July 2019. Both books get 5 stars from me!
P.S. Can Kristofer Hivju play Lars if this ever gets to the screen please????