three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
By: 
Jim Fusilli
user_rating: 
0

A-HardHardCityFusilli returns with the highly-anticipated fourth installment of his Terry Orr series. Hard, Hard City finds Orr still haunted by the death of his wife and infant son and the grisly circumstances under which they expired. (His wife was kissing another man when their baby wandered onto the subway tracks. Her rescue attempt failed; both were killed.) Orr, a writer and sometime private investigator, takes on a new case at the urging of his adolescent daughter, Bella, whose troubled schoolmate has disappeared. But a seemingly straightforward missing person’s case turns harrowing and embroils Orr in the urban menace and violence of a noir-ish New York City.
Putnam. 278 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0399152172

Providence Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"Fusilli’s a master of his craft, each line brimming with his sense of urban life and nail-biting suspense. The hardness of the city and his prose is diamond-bright and conjures up a realm you cannot forget." Sam Coale

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The distinguishing element of Fusilli’s novels … is his ability to capture the sights and sounds of Manhattan. Sometimes these moments are romantic … but more often they are hard-edged glimpses of cabdrivers, bag ladies, cops, traffic jams and other New York noir …" Patrick Anderson

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Jim Fusilli’s thriller series receives justified praise for its pitch-perfect rendering of New York." Andy Solomon

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2.5 of 5 Stars
"If all this sounds to you like generic, tough-guy fiction, you’d be only partially right. There are some extras that establish Fusilli’s individuality." Michael Helfand

Critical Summary

The multi-talented Fusilli, a music critic for The Wall Street Journal and NPR, is just as gifted at creating his own work as he is at dissecting that of others. With Hard, Hard City, Fusilli brings back Terry Orr, last seen in 2003’s Tribeca Blues. Critics praise the nuance with which Fusilli imbues Orr—the character is layered like a human being, not a pulpy gumshoe—and the accuracy with which he captures New York City’s dark underbelly. A few blanch at the plot’s twists and turns, however, believing they skid into B-movie territory. Overall, most strongly recommend Fusilli’s novel to both mystery fans and those who usually eschew the genre. As The Washington Post notes, "If you have fallen into the habit of reading the same favorites over and over—Grisham, Grafton, Sandford, whatever—branch out a bit. Live dangerously!"