Hudson’s Kill: A Justice Flanagan Thriller

Written by Paddy Hirsch
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1803, a young black girl is found stabbed to death in New York City.  City Marshal Justice Flanagan is on the case. The city is segregated between the blacks and the Irish, with gangs roaming both sections of the community.  Along with the gangs, the city is controlled by a corrupt government.  A political conspiracy creates tension between both sides and makes it difficult to bring the girl’s killer to justice.

Kerry O’Toole is a young schoolteacher who also wishes to capture the killer. A mulatto and former pickpocket, she is a cousin to Lew Owens, who runs Canvastown, the black community, while Flanagan is a nephew of the Bull, who runs the Irish part of town. The killing draws Flanagan and O’Toole together in their search for the killer.

This novel is second in the Justice Flanagan mysteries, and now I definitely want to read the first book. The author paints a broad, atmospheric picture of 19th-century New York with its racially divided, packed living conditions and gangs that make it difficult for the police to solve crimes. Tension leaks from the pages as the Marshal tries to interview and obtain cooperation from the major crime bosses and political hacks that seek control. An absorbing read.