Review // The Devil’s Half Mile

Title: The Devil’s Half Mile
Author: Paddy Hirsch
Published: August 2018
Publisher: Corvus (Atlantic)
Readership: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime Thriller
Rating: ★★★
RRP: $29.99 AUD

I received a copy of The Devil’s Half Mile from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Golden Hill meets Hamilton the Musical meets Gangs of New York in this sweeping and extraordinary historical crime debut set in 18th century New York

New York, 1799. Justy Flanagan returns to his native city having spent five years in Ireland fighting in the rebellion against the English. Bloodied and battered, Justy is no stranger to violence. Now he must use all his skills to uncover the truth behind his father’s murder, but while he looks so intently at the past, it is the future that threatens to trip him up…

Terrible rumours swirl in the dark underbelly of the nascent city; a young woman is murdered, a massive fraud threatens to destroy America’s economy, and the labyrinthine streets of New York hold danger at every turn. As the conspiracy deepens, it becomes clear that those involved will stop at nothing to keep their secrets. Justy is forced to choose: will he betray his father’s memory, compromise his integrity, and risk the lives of his closest friends, all in the name of justice? And is he willing to expose a plot that could change the balance of the New World forever?

Full confession time: historical fiction and I don’t always get along, even when it is coupled with a crime-thriller storyline. But, one of the most wonderful things about being a reviewer is constantly having my preconceived notions of my reading tastes challenged and put to the test.

The Devil’s Half-Mile is a crime novel set in 1799 New York City, when Justy Flanagan returns to his native hometown after years abroad studying to be a lawyer and fighting the English to uncover the truth about his father’s death many years earlier. His investigations lead him to Wall Street and the beginnings of the stock market, and all the secrets and under-the-table dealings that are occurring.

This was an interesting read. It is deeply atmospheric, from the descriptions of the locations and the players to the unsettling truths of life during the 18th century. It touches on women’s rights (or lack thereof), slave trading, prostitution and criminal lords – so not for the faint of heart. Just, as well, is a dogged character, who is unwilling to back down. He’s a character with a dark past who may or may not take some pleasure from exacting his revenge on the people behind his father’s death.

I quite like atmospheric reads, but for me the pacing was just a fraction slow, and the pay-off not quite what I would have liked for the timing, but it’s a solid crime novel set during a time period I’ve not really heard much about (especially not in connection with Wall Street). I’m sure my Hamilton-obsessed friends will appreciate the references in here a great deal more.

Ultimately, I rated The Devil’s Half Mile 3 out of 5 stars.

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