By: Rich Zahradnik
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: August 2015
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 3, 2015
It’s 1975 and the place is New York City. It’s a time when the city, fraught with financial woes, is fighting for its very survival. It’s also a time when Coleridge Taylor, a crime reporter at the struggling Messenger-Telegram newspaper, is about to be thrown, head first, into the biggest case of his career.
As the story opens, we meet Taylor, a seasoned crime reporter who is a bit bored at the moment. It seems all anyone is talking about is the impending bankruptcy of New York and the fact that President Ford told the City to “Drop Dead.” However, that’s the last thing Taylor wants to talk about. Can you say ‘boring’ with a capital B? Alas, it seems to be a slow news day for New York’s criminals so Taylor’s boss sends him to City Hall to report on the Mayor’s response to Ford. On the way out, he calls one of his contacts at 1 Police Plaza. Jackpot! A shooting with two dead, one a cop.
Taylor hustles to the scene of the crime and fortunately, is the first reporter to arrive. He is able to view the crime scene where he finds a young mugger and a cop, both dead. But something isn’t right. The position of the bodies and the gunshot wounds just don’t add up. Taylor’s sleuthing instincts go into high gear as he starts to dig deeper into the shooting. The dead mugger, Johnny Mort, was well liked and repeatedly described as gentle with an intense interest in helping stray dogs. Mort sure doesn’t fit the mold of the typical mugger. Add in the fact that the dead cop’s partner, Samantha Callahan, is being accused of abandoning her partner while she insists she was misled by the police radio, and you have one growing mystery. Was it a simple mugging gone bad or is there a cover-up at 1 Police Plaza? Taylor doesn’t know but he sure is going to find out, if it’s the last thing he does...
Drop Dead Punk is the second book in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series and you definitely do not have to read the first to get sucked into this story. One recent rainy afternoon, I started reading and planned to just read a few chapters to get started. I wound up skipping dinner so I could finish the story as I needed to find out ‘who dunnit.’ There were plenty of twists and turns and unexpected connections (pay attention!) that are the cornerstones of a good crime mystery. The author’s description of the gritty world that was New York in the 70s, as well as his research into the near bankruptcy of New York in 1975 was spot on and really added to the character of the story. Callahan’s struggle with being one of the first woman cops in New York comes up repeatedly and gives the reader great insight into what must have been a very difficult time for women on the force. Add in the author’s real-life experiences as a reporter for over 30 years that seep through the pages, and you have a definite winner. I thoroughly enjoyed Drop Dead Punk and look forward to the next book in this new series.
Quill says: If you like a quick reading crime mystery that will keep you guessing, check out Drop Dead Punk. You won’t be disappointed!
For more information on Drop Dead Punk: Coleridge Taylor Mystery, please visit the author's website at: www.richzahradnik.com