Hell Gate (An Ingo Finch Mystery Book 3)

Written by Jeff Dawson
Review by Helen Johnson

This novel opens in New York in 1904, with the sinking of PS General Slocum. Over a thousand members of a Lutheran church drowned, scarring New York’s German community. Despite this tragedy, and the dark forces uncovered by British agent Ingo Finch, this book is an entertaining romp through the exuberance of early 20th-century New York. When the film is made – and it would make a great movie – think James Bond meets Downton Abbey, in New York. Finch, unlike Bond, is reluctant to work for British Intelligence, and must be persuaded. However, like Bond, he escapes multiple perils, using all sorts of vehicles and weapons. Fans of vintage cars – and guns – will appreciate the marques. Fans of whisky will enjoy the tasting notes as Finch is forced to forgo his favourite Talisker and try American brands. Finch’s many chases lead him through a teeming, vibrant city. There are old fishing quays, Georgian mansions, brand-new ocean liner terminals, and skyscrapers and bridges under construction. The exhilaration of the chase is matched by the energy of the fast-growing city.

When I stop to think, it stretches credibility that a veteran army medic with a limp and a drink habit could effect so many escapes. But this is not that sort of book. There is no time to stop and think, as Finch cheats death yet again, only to land in even more trouble. Hell Gate is Finch’s third story; I enjoyed it alone, but Finch’s Boer war memories whetted my appetite for his other adventures. To reveal the nature of Finch’s enemies would be a spoiler, but they are right on today’s zeitgeist. Their web is complex, but unravelled by the end.