Night Life

Written by David C. Taylor
Review by Ellen Keith

For those who have forgotten the McCarthy era, Taylor’s Night Life is a powerful reminder. In New York City in 1954, police detective Michael Cassidy is just trying to do his job. Unfortunately, both his actions and his family bring him unwanted attention. In the course of arresting a suspected robber, he offends Roy Cohn, Senator McCarthy’s chief counsel in the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. It’s no coincidence, then, that his father, Broadway producer Tom Cassidy, but born Tomas Kasnavietski, is brought up to testify at the McCarthy hearings. Plus, Cassidy’s latest investigation, the brutal murder of dancer Alex Ingram, brings the FBI to his squad to demand that he report all his findings to the Feds. The only bright spot in his life is his new neighbor, beautiful Dylan McCue, who initiates a relationship, perhaps suspiciously quickly.

The saying “you’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you” is the theme throughout this book. Cassidy was in the wrong place at the wrong time and has the wrong father, and hell is loosed upon him. His father is arrested and threatened with deportation. Cassidy’s enemies tail his family, and his sister’s illegal abortion is uncovered and her marriage threatened. The intimacy that Dylan offers is only an illusion. Taylor brings in all the heavy hitters of this time; in addition to McCarthy and Cohn, Herbert Hoover, David Schine, and Clyde Tolson all figure into the story. Their conviction that Communism is under every rock is unshaking and frightening in its intensity. I was instantly plunged into that era and reminded of another saying: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”