Tommy guns, crooked cops, speakeasies and organized crime; what more could a detective novel set in the 1930s need? How about a conspiracy against the White House, multiple murders, an ex-Pinkerton for a hero, a lovely actress heroine and appearances by Cole Porter, Dashiell Hammitt, Ethel Merman, Babe Ruth and Joe, Jack and Bobby Kennedy? Yep, The Yankee Club by Michael Murphy has all of these things...and more!
Jake Donovan is the author of a series of mystery novels about a fictional detective named Blackie Doyle. It's 1933 and Jake has returned to New York City for some research. He ran away to Florida two years ago to escape the rejection from Laura Wilson, his longtime love. He's hoping not to run into her at all on this trip. His first stop is The Yankee Club, his favorite speakeasy. Afterwards he pays a visit to his old detective partner, Mickey, who is the inspiration for Blackie Doyle. Jake learns that Laura is engaged to a banker, Spencer Dalrymple, III. Only minutes later Mickey is murdered and Jake is shot in the leg and wounded. Jake and Laura are plunged into the middle of one of the biggest conspiracies against the government in history. A secret plan is brewing to take over the government, much like Hitler and Mussolini had done in Germany and Italy. The plan is backed by some very powerful, very rich men. Jake is determined to save his country from fascism and preserve freedom while staying alive and keeping Laura safe in the process. When he doesn't know who he can trust, Jake will depend on his friends from The Yankee Club to come through in the end and save the day.
The Yankee Club is well-written and takes you back to a very exciting, very dangerous time in American history. It was the end of Prohibition, and the middle of the Great Depression. Bankers like the fictional Spencer Dalrymple were throwing lavish parties, while thousands of homeless people were living in a Hooverville in Central Park. Hoover had left the economy in a mess, and the rich bankers hated Roosevelt's New Deal. Enter Hitler's Nazis and Mussolini's Blackshirts and you've got a recipe for a government overthrow, with the right war hero on a white horse to come in and save the day.
This book has just the right amount of tough-guy mystery to make you think you've stepped into an old black-and-white gangster movie. But the unexpected twist of the government conspiracy is what really pushes this book over the top for me. It's definitely one of my favorites this year. However, there is some coarse language, so it's not for everyone. I'm hoping there will be more from Michael Murphy and Jake and Laura in the future...
I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.