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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 06/2022
  • 979-8812311230 B0B2J87BC1
  • 231 pages
  • $9.95
Ebook Details
  • 06/2022
  • B09Z9M7BRN
  • 299 pages
  • $4.95
Bob Mantel
Author
The Velvet Badge
Bob Mantel, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

A tasteless night club run by a failed JFK assassination co-conspirator brings out the worst in 1970s New York. Songbird Sadasia Trayne runs into a disco-era buzz saw of wine, women, and murder when she hooks up with the Brooklyn-based creator of a notorious TV sitcom. Her frantic SOS to a long-lost love, the Big Apple’s closeted lesbian Chief of Police Detectives, drives this tale of memory and regret, compromise and topiary, politics and a corrupt press, Kris Kringle and twisted acts of love. Will the headline-grabbing sex crime she sets out to solve max out the Chief’s investigative skills or deep-six her career? "The Velvet Badge" combines edge-of-your-seat storytelling with stone-cold hilarity and just a touch of holiday ho-ho-ho.
Reviews
A large cast of troubled characters connects with each other over the years in complex and ultimately tragic ways in this series of noir-flavored stories. Soldier Donny Damon finds himself with an odd connection to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and launches a Kennedy-themed nightclub. Rising singer Sadasia takes up residence, and starts a relationship with Capers Greenbergér, famous for creating an offensive sitcom. Desperate publicist Groak has sold his soul—almost literally—as he fast-talks a naïve priest. Eventually these twisty relationships turn toward crime, including a brutal murder, and embroil high-ranking detective Ellia Chase, with her own unsavory connections to the suspects and witnesses. They all face strangely appropriate fates, victims of their own passions.

In his striking first novel, Mantel creates a dark world where everyone has a secret that could lead to destruction. Donny's apparent hallucinations put him on what seems like a road to violence. Sadasia and Capers develop an affair as satisfying as it is destructive. Most arresting of all is the gradual and poignant fall of Ellia, in another case of inner demons and uncontrolled appetites. Although the plot turns are as complex as the characters’ all-too-human motives, the set pieces are so lively that the reader is carried through until the last page.

A key reason the book moves so quickly is Mantel's terrific use of language, an homage to classic noir fiction but always fresh in its own way. A description of how Donny is conceived is a joyfully bizarre cross between Raymond Chandler and Douglas Adams. As a bird dies, its "feathers liquified, popped, hissed and sizzled like the Yule Log broadcast every Christmas Eve in New York on WPIX, Channel 11." A grim Midwestern town is described "where yellowjackets outnumbered registered voters and probably had a higher standard of living." The mood lasts long after the reader has finished.

Takeaway: A horrific crime catalyzes desperate New Yorkers in this arresting neo-noir ensemble tale.

Great for fans of: Michael Heslin’s Meatpacking, Ernesto Quiñonez’s Chango’s Fire.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 06/2022
  • 979-8812311230 B0B2J87BC1
  • 231 pages
  • $9.95
Ebook Details
  • 06/2022
  • B09Z9M7BRN
  • 299 pages
  • $4.95

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