The Organ Grinder
Five Star, Oct 2008, $25.95
In 1899 in New York City, John “Dutch” Tonneman, one of the two-man NYPD Commissioner's Squad, investigates a serial killer who stabs his victims to death. The case is somewhat personal for the detective because his lover photographer Esther Breslau met one of the deceased prostitutes Delia Swann as part of her project to take pictures of street walkers.
Dutch wonders if Esther photographing the hooker is a coincidence or not. He ponders whether the killer is following Esther’s work with an especially keen lethal eye. As he follows clues, Dutch worries that Esther could be on the list of this sociopath slasher.
The latest Dutchman turn of the century police procedural is more historical than an investigative whodunit as the audience knows who the killer is early on. The tidbits into 1899 New York City is wonderful as readers obtain glimpses into the subway system construction, the problems with the consolidation with Brooklyn and Queens, and much more as life in Manhattan shines throughout the novel. Although that is a double edged sword as the police investigation into the serial killer slasher homicides takes a back seat to the city.