A Caesar Stiles Mystery
[ About the Book ]
Black Irish Blues is the return-to-origin story of Caesar Stiles, an erstwhile runaway who returns to his hometown with plans to buy the town’s only tavern and end his family’s Sicilian curse.
Caesar’s attempt for redemption is complicated by the spectral presence of his estranged father, reparation seekers related to his corrupt older brother, a charming crime boss and his enigmatic crew, and – most significantly – a stranger named Dinny Tuite whose disappearance under dubious circumstances immerses Caesar in a mystery that leads into the criminal underbelly of industrial New Jersey, the flawed myth of the American Dream, and his hometown’s shameful secrets.
[ My Review ]
Black Irish Blues by Andrew Cotto was published December 30th 2020 with Black Rose Writing and is described as ‘a poetic, gritty noir full of dynamic characters, a page-turning plot, and the further development of a unique American character’ It is the second book featuring the enigmatic Caesar Stiles, following on from Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery , which was originally published in 2012. For fans of Caesar Stiles, the wait was long but worth it.
Caesar Stiles has been running for years from his past, from his family, carrying an old Sicilian curse on his shoulders that continues to plague generations. When his violent and revengeful brother is incarcerated in prison, Caesar finally decides to return to his roots, to New Jersey and the home where he grew up. After his mother passes away and knowing that his father is out there somewhere, Caesar makes the move to retrace his steps and attempts to settle back into life in the old neighbourhood. Purchasing a bar, Caesar sets about a renovation project in the hope of creating a new life for himself here, but for people like Caesar Stiles, the past will always cast a shadow.
Andrew Cotto is a new author to me. His writing style is very much a return to the American Noir, with a smoothness that flows throughout the novel. Caesar Stiles is wonderfully portrayed as this good natured character always fighting the fight, always looking over his shoulder as circumstances continually try to drag him down. When his old buddy, now a police officer, looks for Caesar’s help in uncovering the truth behind the dramatic disappearance of a young Wall Street whiz Dinny Tuite, Caesar finds himself involved in a case that takes him into some very treacherous situations.
As Caesar Stiles faces down enemies, new and old, he always returns to food and his passion for feeding folk delectable Italian fare. It’s clear that Andrew Cotto has a true passion for all things Italian and the smells and flavours almost seep through the pages with luscious descriptions of seriously tantalising dishes.
Andrew Cotto lives in Brooklyn and his knowledge of both New Jersey and New York shines through. The descriptions are extremely vivid giving the reader a real sense of place with all the individual characters feeling very authentic.
Black Irish Blues is an intense read about a complex central protagonist who is trying hard to do the right thing while circumstances keep pushing him in other directions. It has that compelling Hollywood noir style of a Raymond Chandler novel but in a more modern setting. Easily imagined on screen, it invigorates all the senses bringing Caesar Stiles very much alive for the reader. He is an introspective individual hoping for redemption and peace, but can he finally conquer his demons? A gritty, raw mystery, Black Irish Blues, is a compact (148 page) and highly entertaining read that packs a serious punch with incredible imagery from the get-go.
Purchase Link ~ Black Irish Blues
[ Bio ]
Andrew Cotto is an award-winning novelist and lives in Brooklyn, New York. A regular contributor to The New York Times, Andrew has also written for: Parade, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, La Cucina Italiana, the Good Men Project, Condé Nast Traveler, Italy magazine, AARP, Rachael Ray In Season and more.
Twitter – @andrewcotto