Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stormy Seas

Having seen and appreciated the Tall Ships, during our country’s bicentennial, I appreciated the locale of A Black Sail, by Rich Zahradnik.  The back and forth between the ships and the city arced the story from mob to tong and city to harbor.  The major protagonist, Coleridge Taylor is not only jumping and ducking locales, but the bad guys, too.  Taylor is an investigative reporter who isn’t assigned to investigate the murder of the poor woman who was dragged up from the harbor, but he wants to—needs to—is called to.  His assignment is to report on the Tall Ships and the ceremonies involved in New York Harbor, for the Bicentennial in 1976. 

Our story begins with Taylor cruising the harbor to report on the Tall Ships, when he sees the police pull up a dead woman from the water, with bags of drugs attached to her.  Taylor’s boss wants him to just write on the goings on for the Bicentennial.  You might as well ask the sun not to shine.  Taylor works on his Bicentennial assignment in between following leads to find who was murdered and why.
The victim was Bridget Collucci.  Attached to her body was heroin (China white).  Stamped on the bags were Chinese junks with black sails. Was this a message from the tong to the mob about whom controls the drug trade?

Bridget Collucci was indirectly connected to the mob.  She was a daughter of someone connected.  Her husband was a lawyer whose career was indirectly involved with the mob.  Taylor scribbles off some fluff on the Tall Ships for his boss, but then interviews Bridget’s husband.  He’s upset, naturally, but Taylor wonders why someone who works for the mob calls the police when his wife is missing.  While interviewing the husband, Bridget’s father- a small-time mobster, blusters in the house and wants to know what’s going on.  These mob types seem clueless but are still very threatening.  They seem not to know what’s happening, either.

Taylor figures he’ll follow the drugs.  He ends up in a drug den and tries to rescue a girl.  Up until the introduction of this druggy, Mary, I couldn’t figure Taylor out.  I’ve never read a Taylor mystery before and thought Taylor kind of a lame hero.  He got sea sick.  He couldn’t shoot straight and near the end of the book he considers not carrying a gun at all because it was of no use to him.  He had a job he hated because he lost a good job before and was sliding downwards. He had to fall back on his grandfather for financial support, and if it weren’t for his very competent girlfriend, Samantha, Taylor would be dead a zillion times.  But when Taylor tried to help Mary, I could see what type of hero he was—my type.  His priorities were people first—helping them.  Money was last, next to he, himself.  He was a nice guy and that’s not an oxymoron when it describes Taylor.

In rescuing Mary, Taylor runs into the tong.  They’re scary! But not as scary as Nick Lucco.  Lucco is Carl Carlucci’s body guard.  The FBI is also involved.  Of course the local police are in on the action, too.  And guess who is in the middle and told to butt out, by all of them.  Taylor managers to straightened out this knot of gangsters and also eek out enough information to keep his news job. 

The real news is the final story.  The bad guy isn’t who you will think it is.  And Taylor manages to satisfy his boss, if not his own personal conscience.  He has one regret and I’m not spoiling the story for you.  Taylor relates the story and the plot doesn’t give you a break.  The reader races to keep up.  I enjoyed it and will be looking for the other two Coleridge Taylor mysteries.  Even though the book was free in exchange for my review, I wasn’t pressured to write a good review.  I don’t know if my review is good, but A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik is a good mystery.

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A Black Sail
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Rich Zahradnik's Bio:

Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).

The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.

"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.

Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.

In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction.

Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.
A Black Sail Book Summary:
On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.

Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
October 1, 2016
Camel Press

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Tribute Books said...

Faith, thanks for reviewing Rich's upcoming release.

Rich Zahradnik said...

Thank you for the review, Faith. I'll be stopping by to see if your readers have questions.

Natalie said...

I would love to read this book because it sounds like it will keep me on the edge of my seat. I love suspense.

Nikolina said...

This is a new author for me but the book sounds very intriguing, so I'd love to learn more!

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