A multi-layered story of a fight for redemption against the past, corruption, police internal affairs and the larger-than-life legacy of a decorated father. Within this, the drive to solve a pattern of connected homicides is the one thing that provides an anchor.
In Saints of New York, R. J. Ellory gives a wide-angle view of events that lead the reader into the history of organised crime and corruption at all levels. Detective Frank Parrish lives this every day. Not with it, but in it. In excruciating close-up everything that’s wrong with his life, and that’s wrong with Frank Parrish the man is presented.
Part of his current disciplinary action is to attend daily counselling sessions where the skeletons that relate to his father, his marriage and his relationships with his children are brought into sharp focus. The pain is tangible and seeps off the page to sit low in your gut. You can’t help but feel drawn to Frank Parrish, to have compassion for his circumstances. You want him to succeed. Not just to solve the crimes that run through this story, but to fix his life. But you also know that life doesn’t come with that type of guarantee, especially in a story this dark and earthy.
The series of homicides that Frank Parrish is hit with are disturbing realistic and sinister. The likeness of one victim to his daughter brings its own fear, one that needs several good measures of top-shelf whiskey to quieten. Even if it’s only long enough for him to pass out on the couch for a few hours. Through the drive to understand these killings and to stop the deaths of more innocents, the real Frank Parrish is revealed. The good guy surrounded by a haze of everything that’s wrong.
Saints of New York is exceptionally well written. The prose is economic but lyrical with a darkness that wraps the bitter pills. “As if all the parts had been put together by a clumsy child, the seams of his life gaped wide and would not close with time.” The dialogue snaps. There’s nothing that doesn’t earn its keep in driving the story forward. Highly recommended.