Saints of New York
SAINTS OF NEW YORK, from my perspective, is really three novels. Ostensibly, it’s a tale about down-and-out detective Frank Parrish, by all appearances a loser. Amongst a slew of failures, he claims as his legacy a penchant for getting in deep with NYPD brass. Not a good start to September 2008.
Second, the psych part tells of Frank, a rogue cop determined to right the wrongs of his falsely honored as a “Saint” but corrupt cop father, and show the NYPD Blues that he is his own man, one of integrity who can’t be corrupted. But square pegs don’t fit into round holes. He resents the shrink the Department forces him to visit, but begins to respect “the lady doctor.” After a few psych sessions, he addresses her by a more honorable title, Dr. Griffin.
And here’s my interpretation: The graphic opening scene and language only slightly prepare readers for something truly profane, the prevalence of pedophilia and enticement for youth to be a “star” in porn films. Those movie makers, distributors and scumbags who purchase and view debasing videos, thereby subverting youth, comprise the true profanity in SAINTS OF NEW YORK.
"Things don’t turn out the way one would expect, the genius I have come to expect from Roger Jon Ellory."
The novel begins with Detective Frank Parrish trying to prevent Thomas, who has already cut a deep gash in her thigh, from killing his “crazy bitch of a girlfriend” with a straight razor. In a swift motion, Tom slices his friend’s neck. “Her blood has been flicked around the place like this is some kind of performance art thing.” Then Tom slashes his own throat. (Do not try this at home.)
Frank has failed --- again. There are vague references to his police partner, Mike Vale, dying under suspicious circumstances. Now he’s saddled with “green as grass” partner Jimmy Radick. Frank is on reduced-pay probation, had his driver’s license revoked due to drinking a bottle of Bushmills each night, and is forced to have daily sessions with NYPD shrink Dr. Marie Griffin. He carries more baggage than a major airline.
During chapter-length psych sessions with Dr. Griffin, readers learn that Frank is divorced, has two young adult progeny, and is the son of murdered corrupt cop John Parrish. Frank lives in the shadow of his father, one of the 12 Saints of New York, a core group of cops who virtually eradicated corruption in Gotham two decades before, but only Frank knows of his dad’s true reputation.
Using the most recent homicide to which he’s been assigned as an excuse to get away from Dr. G., Frank notices a common link to this and other cold cases. Is the link real, or is it the effect of Bushmills? Hot on the no-evidence trail, Frank has only his “incontrovertible certainty of gut” feeling as to who the porn ring leader is and the person responsible for the deaths of seven teen girls. He’s torn between crossing the thin blue line of violating “all the protocols regarding search and seizure and probable cause,” and not falling into the trap his father did. He discovers that the porn ring may be linked to his homicide cases. “All victims are not created equal” seems to be his mantra.
To say more would spell Spoiler with a capital S. Let’s leave it at this: Things don’t turn out the way one would expect, the genius I have come to expect from Roger Jon Ellory.
Following the US publications of CITY OF LIES and CANDLEMOTH in 2013, R.J. Ellory reads the first chapter of his latest US release here. But be warned if graphic fiction offends. To see the trailer (as long as you’re not squeamish), click here. Few view a slasher film anticipating Freddy Krueger to help old ladies cross the street, and no one reads intense crime thrillers expecting a cop to do the same. Be cautious when reading any Ellory novel, not due to graphic crime scenes, but because this brilliant author challenges readers to think.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 27, 2014