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The Devil's Half Mile

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Fans of Caleb Carr, Erik Larsen, and Gangs of New York will love this riveting historical thriller debut, set in a 1799 New York City. Seven years after a financial crisis nearly toppled America, traders chafe at government regulations, racial tensions are rising, and corrupt financiers make back-door deals with politicians... 1799 was a hell of a year. Thanks to Alexander H Fans of Caleb Carr, Erik Larsen, and Gangs of New York will love this riveting historical thriller debut, set in a 1799 New York City. Seven years after a financial crisis nearly toppled America, traders chafe at government regulations, racial tensions are rising, and corrupt financiers make back-door deals with politicians... 1799 was a hell of a year. Thanks to Alexander Hamilton, America recovered from the financial panic of 1792, but the young country is still finding its way. When a young lawyer returns to prove his father's innocence, he exposes a massive financial fraud that the perpetrators are determined to keep secret at any cost. And reaching the highest levels, the looming crisis could topple the nation.


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Fans of Caleb Carr, Erik Larsen, and Gangs of New York will love this riveting historical thriller debut, set in a 1799 New York City. Seven years after a financial crisis nearly toppled America, traders chafe at government regulations, racial tensions are rising, and corrupt financiers make back-door deals with politicians... 1799 was a hell of a year. Thanks to Alexander H Fans of Caleb Carr, Erik Larsen, and Gangs of New York will love this riveting historical thriller debut, set in a 1799 New York City. Seven years after a financial crisis nearly toppled America, traders chafe at government regulations, racial tensions are rising, and corrupt financiers make back-door deals with politicians... 1799 was a hell of a year. Thanks to Alexander Hamilton, America recovered from the financial panic of 1792, but the young country is still finding its way. When a young lawyer returns to prove his father's innocence, he exposes a massive financial fraud that the perpetrators are determined to keep secret at any cost. And reaching the highest levels, the looming crisis could topple the nation.

30 review for The Devil's Half Mile

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Paddy Hirsch tells the story of the first US financial crisis on Wall Street, aka the Devil's Half Mile, the Panic of 1792 and its aftermath which eventually led to the establishment of securities trading rules and the creation of the New York Stock Exchange Board in 1817. New York feels like a small town in 1799, when Justice 'Justy' Flanagan returns from Ireland, earning a law degree there, fighting in the Irish Rebellion, and becoming acquainted with policing in Paris and London. There are te Paddy Hirsch tells the story of the first US financial crisis on Wall Street, aka the Devil's Half Mile, the Panic of 1792 and its aftermath which eventually led to the establishment of securities trading rules and the creation of the New York Stock Exchange Board in 1817. New York feels like a small town in 1799, when Justice 'Justy' Flanagan returns from Ireland, earning a law degree there, fighting in the Irish Rebellion, and becoming acquainted with policing in Paris and London. There are tensions and conflict at the Port between the Irish, regarded as the lowest in the social order with few opportunities, and the more recently freed black slaves, seen as willing to work for less and threatening Irish jobs. Young black women are being murdered, marked by cuts on their faces. There is no actual police force in a lawless city, populated by gangs, led by hard, feared, ruthless men such as Ignatius Flanagan, The Bull, Justy's uncle, whose reputation plays an important role in ensuring that anyone thinks twice before harming Justy. Jacob Hays is the Mayor's Marshall investigating the deaths of the black women, the first steps to the later establishment of the New York police. Justy's father was assumed to have committed suicide after supposedly hanging himself, after participating by raising the wind, finding new investors, in a fraud scheme concocted by William Duer, who was imprisoned, albeit in luxury, and is now dead. Justy discovered his father's body and after acquiring knowledge on policing in Europe, he is now sure that his father was murdered. He is not going to rest until he gets to the bottom of what happened to him. He is looking for the names of the men involved with Duer in the fraud that led to the 1792 Panic on Wall Street. Unfortunately, people who can help throw a light on the affair keep dying on him. With the help of his best friend, Lars Hokkanssen, Justy is forced to fight for his life as he gets closer to the truth of how his father died, revealing a sea of filth, fraud, slavery and prostitution operating in the hallowed Wall Street. Even worse, it appears there are plans in the present that threaten another harrowing threat on the Devil's Half Mile that endangers the economic future of the US. Hirsch writes a blend of fact and fiction with some real life figures in this historical murder mystery in the era of slavery and the amoral attempts to continue to profit from this abominable trade. Justy's quest to find his father's murderer gives us a picture of this period of New York's history with the author's rich descriptions. Wall Street has continued to be a source of numerous financial scandals right up to the present, a reminder that it is usually the ordinary people who pay the price, rarely the perpetrators. This is an informative and entertaining read of a fascinating period of US history that I recommend. I should warn readers that the author uses many Irish words in the narrative. Many thanks to Atlantic Books for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    In The Devil’s Half Mile, the author transports the reader to a violent, dog-eat-dog world of dark alleys and even darker deeds – protectionism, violence, corruption and vice – carried out by people who never go anywhere without weapons and have no compunction about using them. It’s all told in colourful, sparkling prose generously sprinkled with colloquialisms that give a real sense of authenticity and include some great curses and one-liners. There is a helpful glossary at the back of the book In The Devil’s Half Mile, the author transports the reader to a violent, dog-eat-dog world of dark alleys and even darker deeds – protectionism, violence, corruption and vice – carried out by people who never go anywhere without weapons and have no compunction about using them. It’s all told in colourful, sparkling prose generously sprinkled with colloquialisms that give a real sense of authenticity and include some great curses and one-liners. There is a helpful glossary at the back of the book in case you need help deciphering phrases such as ‘beard splitter’, ‘coat buzzer’ ‘shooting the cat’ or ‘lambskin man’. The author brilliantly conjures up the sights, sounds and particularly the smells of an 18th century New York that is miles away from the sophisticated city we think of today. Coming ashore in the harbour, Justice Flanagan is greeted by: ‘Wood smoke from a thousand hearth fires, urine from the tanners’ shops, horse shit from the streets, sewage from the septic tanks, fresh blood from the abattoirs, rotting meat and produce from the tips. Bad breath, sour beer, raw spirits, stale sweat.’ I also loved this description of the population going about their business in the Broad Way. ‘Shoppers and passersby competed for space with a crush of handsellers and their carts: chive fencers selling cutlery, swell fencers touting the sharpness of their sewing needles, flying stationers flogging their penny ballads and histories, crack fencers offering bags of nuts, and everywhere the cakey pannam fencers, whose trolleys were piled with pies, sweet bowlas tarts and savoury chonkeys, the minced-meat pastries that no true New Yorker could resist.’ (See why you need that glossary?) There is a fantastic cast of characters – some likeable, some definitely not. In the latter category, is Justice’s uncle, Ignatius Flanagan, known as ‘The Bull’, who strikes fear into those who oppose him and boasts ‘I own the waterfront’. In his own words, The Bull is ‘a teaguelander, a six and tips, a jumped-up Fenian boglander Paddy bastard’. (Sorry, you’re going to need that glossary again.) Or as Justy accuses him: ‘You cheat and lie and steal. You enslave, and you kill. For money and for power.’ But when it comes to it, is blood thicker than water? There’s street-wise Kerry, Justice’s cousin, who’s had to learn to be independent in a world that’s male-dominated and has more to lose than the reader initially realises. There’s Justice’s friend, Lars Hokkanssen, a tough red-bearded sailor of Irish/Norwegian descent who prides himself on his charm with the ladies (without much evidence to support it) and who knows and understands the demons that sometimes haunt Justice. And of course, there’s the man himself, known to his friends as Justy. His brutal experiences fighting the English in the Irish Rebellion mean he sometimes finds himself repelled by the anger and violent impulses he senses within himself. He fears he may have got some perverted pleasure from what he did in the heat of battle, carried away by blood lust and a belief in the righteousness of the cause for which he fought. ‘He had the sense that there was a box inside him that, if he opened it, would let all the evil of the world come pouring out.’ This moral complexity makes Justy an absolutely fascinating character. He’s also clever, observant, resourceful and handy in a tight spot. Probably a bit of a dish as well. Initially on the hunt for the person responsible for his father’s death, Justy becomes involved in the investigation into a series of murders of prostitutes that suggest a serial killer may be on the loose in the streets of New York.   What follows is plenty of twists and turns as Justy hunts for clues among the great and good and the not-so-great and not-so-good. It also brings him into the world of the traders and financiers who inhabit the ‘Devil’s Half Mile’, the nickname for Wall Street. It becomes apparent that it’s a world of speculative investments offering high returns most of which have little behind them or, if they do, perhaps not what the investors in them imagine. Sound familiar? When he gets too close, Justy’s faced with a dreadful choice which means risking losing something that has become very dear to him. Justy fights back (of course) but it will take every ounce of cunning and experience (plus the help of trusted allies, assuming he can work out who they are) to uncover the truth. In the end, what helps reveal the malefactors and the dreadful nature of their enterprise is the diligent collection of information. Tempting wouldn’t you say for an author who is also a journalist? The Devil’s Half Mile is fast-moving, intricately plotted historical fiction with fantastic period atmosphere and a wonderful cast of characters. The good news for appreciative readers like me is that the ending is all set up for further books in the series. (Yes, please.) I’ve read some great historical fiction already this year and The Devil’s Half Mile joins that list. Historical crime fiction fans, put this one on your wishlist or, better still, click on the pre-order/purchase button. To my mind, if The Devil’s Half Mile doesn’t feature in The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for 2019, there’s no Justice in the world (see what I did there?). I received a review copy courtesy of Readers First and publishers, Corvus , in return for an honest and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    IT's 1799 and it seems like just about everyone in New York is corrupt. Justy Flanagan has just returned from Ireland after studying to become a lawyer. He is intent on proving his father did not commit suicide years ago and is hoping to find the murderer. As he searches for answers, he uncovers a massive fraud that runs deep and continues to claim lives. I was excited to read this book that takes place in the late 1700s because while I like to read historical fiction, I rarely read anything tha IT's 1799 and it seems like just about everyone in New York is corrupt. Justy Flanagan has just returned from Ireland after studying to become a lawyer. He is intent on proving his father did not commit suicide years ago and is hoping to find the murderer. As he searches for answers, he uncovers a massive fraud that runs deep and continues to claim lives. I was excited to read this book that takes place in the late 1700s because while I like to read historical fiction, I rarely read anything that takes place prior to the Civil War. I found the whole son looking for his father's killer to be intriguing at first but I have to admit my interest in the mystery started to wane as the book progressed. The book incorporates Irish words and phrases so much that there is a handy dandy glossary of terms at the back of the book. There were a few instances in which I wondered if the words were being overused and certain dialogue exchanges that didn't feel entirely realistic. Overall, this isn't a bad book, I just wish it would have sustained my interest a little bit more. I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    SFrick

    The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... The year is 1799 in NYC Journalist Hirsch makes his fiction debut with a superb historical whodunit. In 1799, after four years studying law in Ireland, Justy Flanagan returns to Manhattan in search of the truth about the death of his father, Francis, a stock trader who reportedly hanged himself when Justy was 14. Convinced by new evidence that his father was murdered, Justy wants answers from William Duer, a “reckless sp The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... The year is 1799 in NYC Journalist Hirsch makes his fiction debut with a superb historical whodunit. In 1799, after four years studying law in Ireland, Justy Flanagan returns to Manhattan in search of the truth about the death of his father, Francis, a stock trader who reportedly hanged himself when Justy was 14. Convinced by new evidence that his father was murdered, Justy wants answers from William Duer, a “reckless speculator” and former ally of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who was Francis’s business partner before the 1792 financial crisis sent Duer to debtors’ prison. But when Justy goes looking for Duer in Manhattan’s New Gaol, he learns that his quarry is dead, and when he reunites with his uncle Ignatius, a powerful landowner who funded his education, he’s met with skepticism about his theory. Justy persists, nonetheless, and Hirsch effortlessly incorporates the political and economic background of the time into the mystery. About the author: https://www.paddyhirsch.com/ This is his first attempt at a novel. THE DEVIL’S HALF MILE A NOVEL The Devil’s Half Mile is a riveting historical thriller debut set in 1799 New York City. Seven years after a financial crisis nearly toppled America, traders chafe at government regulations, racial tensions are rising, gangs roam the streets and corrupt financiers make back-door deals with politicians… 1799 was a hell of a year. Thanks to Alexander Hamilton, America has recovered from the panic on the Devil’s Half Mile (aka Wall Street), but the young country is still finding its way. When young lawyer Justy Flanagan returns to solve his father’s murder, he exposes a massive fraud that has already claimed lives, and one the perpetrators are determined to keep secret at any cost. The body count is rising, and the looming crisis could topple the nation. Its a mystery of course and beautifully written. From bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos... From goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Justice Flanagan returns to post-revolutionary New York, following education and soldiering in the Irish Rebellion. He's seen and learned a great deal about the world, that he hopes will help him solve the mystery of his father's death. Against the backdrop of a squalling infant America, Paddy Hirsch weaves an intricate set of mysteries as Justy tries to comes to terms with his past and how it will color his future. With a solution I didn't see coming, and betrayal on every cobbled street corner Justice Flanagan returns to post-revolutionary New York, following education and soldiering in the Irish Rebellion. He's seen and learned a great deal about the world, that he hopes will help him solve the mystery of his father's death. Against the backdrop of a squalling infant America, Paddy Hirsch weaves an intricate set of mysteries as Justy tries to comes to terms with his past and how it will color his future. With a solution I didn't see coming, and betrayal on every cobbled street corner this is a fantastic debut for historical mystery fans. Bonus Hamilton cameo!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    I haven't read any books set in this time period, in New York before and as a lover of historical fiction I was looking forward to reading it. Paddy Hirsch is good at setting the scene. His descriptions of people and settings easily place you in the book and draw you in so you feel a part of the story. Justy is also a well written character. Although he's spent time as part of the underworld and immersed in the goings on of his uncles gang, he remains his own man with his own morals and I really I haven't read any books set in this time period, in New York before and as a lover of historical fiction I was looking forward to reading it. Paddy Hirsch is good at setting the scene. His descriptions of people and settings easily place you in the book and draw you in so you feel a part of the story. Justy is also a well written character. Although he's spent time as part of the underworld and immersed in the goings on of his uncles gang, he remains his own man with his own morals and I really like that he stands up for what he believes is right. There's plenty of twists and turns that keep you intrigued. It's a book full of corruption, greed, violence and murder and I really enjoyed it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Being a big fan of history, I really enjoyed this book. Recommended reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    I'm always here for historical fiction centering around late 18th/early 19th century America. And this was a very interesting book from a historical perspective as well as a page-turning mystery. Unfortunately, it also fell into a few common traps for books in those genres. The protagonist is able to conclusions that seem a little far-fetched because he's so brilliant (view spoiler)[ like he remembers his father's body so perfectly that he's able to deduce that he was murdered? Memory is a fickl I'm always here for historical fiction centering around late 18th/early 19th century America. And this was a very interesting book from a historical perspective as well as a page-turning mystery. Unfortunately, it also fell into a few common traps for books in those genres. The protagonist is able to conclusions that seem a little far-fetched because he's so brilliant (view spoiler)[ like he remembers his father's body so perfectly that he's able to deduce that he was murdered? Memory is a fickle thing, even important, formative memories like that (hide spoiler)] but he also doesn't notice when people are telling him what are very obviously lies. To be fair, this is a weakness in a lot of mystery novels (and TV shows and movies.) Along those same lines, so much of the exposition was dealt with in the following manner: "Do you know of [such and such]" "Aye, of course- [gives whatever key information the reader needs to know about said person, place, or event" (if it's established that you both know this person/place/event, and especially if you're saying everyone in New York/America/the world does, why are you providing details like that? After the fifth time this happens, it just became laughable.) Also, if I have to pull out my phone to Google half the words in a sentence because the writer is just having that much fun with period vernacular, it really pulls me out of the story- but that isn't an uncommon issue in historical fiction. That said! This was a really engrossing, fun (although very dark, because of its subject matter) novel with characters I wanted to read about- both the heroes and villains. Also, I was really surprised to read in the author's bio that he's actually an economist. I couldn't tell from reading the book- usually when an expert writes a novel that pertains their field, it's really obvious, and not in a good way. This novel didn't have any of that over-detailed, heavy handed, I'm-not-reading-this-for-pages-of-description-of-something-that-simply-is-not-that-relevant stuff going on. Overall, an excellently researched, engaging, not to mention quite short read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I came for the historic fiction, I stayed for the slang: "Even if you've managed to kimbaw some topping men into your dirty sham, that doesn't mean you've got New York by the nutmegs. And it doesn't make you any less of a gammon-hawking, bully-trap madge." Complete with a glossary to help spice up your next diatribe.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I usually don't read historical fiction. I won this ARC through Goodreads Giveaways. The premise was intriguing. Wall Street, Post Revolution, Murder, Conspiracy- it sounded pretty good. I rather enjoyed it. The one thing that I was hung up on was the one thing that gives it some authenticity- the slang and jargon. Luckily, Hirsch puts a little glossary at the end so you can look up the words, but it became a little distracting when I had to do it every minute or so. The premise and plot couldv'e I usually don't read historical fiction. I won this ARC through Goodreads Giveaways. The premise was intriguing. Wall Street, Post Revolution, Murder, Conspiracy- it sounded pretty good. I rather enjoyed it. The one thing that I was hung up on was the one thing that gives it some authenticity- the slang and jargon. Luckily, Hirsch puts a little glossary at the end so you can look up the words, but it became a little distracting when I had to do it every minute or so. The premise and plot couldv'e been set in the modern day: shady Wall Street dealings, murder, prostitutes, dirty cops, crooked politicians etc HOWEVER, none of the modern day conveniences of computers, phones, cars, etc to help wrap things up. Overall, it played in my head like scenes from Gangs of New York. I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting and even the dialogue, though at times difficult, was witty. The pace was very good. I think I only got somewhat bored on a few pages, but for the most part it is a page turner. Even though it seems to be a standalone novel, I wouldn't mind seeing more of Justy Flanagan taking on the scum of New York.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    have talked about it before, how I enjoyed a historical mystery. Because they have to work so much harder for it. There are no fancy labs or tech. There is legwork and asking the right and wrong questions that will probably land you in even more trouble. And I like that. Justice is a young man who has been away studying law (and police work). Not to mention fighting the English in Ireland (bloody English!). And now he is back. An honest man, a good man. I liked him. He had a good head (and brain) have talked about it before, how I enjoyed a historical mystery. Because they have to work so much harder for it. There are no fancy labs or tech. There is legwork and asking the right and wrong questions that will probably land you in even more trouble. And I like that. Justice is a young man who has been away studying law (and police work). Not to mention fighting the English in Ireland (bloody English!). And now he is back. An honest man, a good man. I liked him. He had a good head (and brain) on his shoulders. His uncle is a gangster and it would be so easy to become crooked, but he wants to make his own way. This is a murder mystery on many levels. Like who killed his father many years ago? What was he dealing with? Is there something crooked on Wall street? (when isn't there). And not to mention as soon as he land he comes across men dragging up a murdered woman so what's the deal with that? Slowly the pieces in the puzzle comes together, but it takes investigating and again, asking all those right and wrong questions. And the bad guys wants to be in the clear. There is also the story about him meeting his old friend, who is now a young woman and he does want to see that she is ok too. I will not tell to much there, you will see. All in all, I do like a good mystery that is hard to crack. And I like how grey the book is. It's not easy in those times bringing people to justice (pun intended). There is danger and darkness in all that grey and the dark that is humanity. Conclusion: A historical thriller set in a New York I do not see often. Mystery, danger and a hunt for a killer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Thank you, Forge Publicity, for providing me with this Advance Reading Copy, and an opportunity to share my opinions with other readers. The Devil's Half mile is an apt title for Wall Street, as Paddy Hirsch presents his version of how it may have been in 1799. It is a fast-paced and well-written thriller with no lack of investment manipulations, political corruption, gangs, racial and ethnic hostilities, grisly murders and all the action that goes with the territory. It is historical fiction, bu Thank you, Forge Publicity, for providing me with this Advance Reading Copy, and an opportunity to share my opinions with other readers. The Devil's Half mile is an apt title for Wall Street, as Paddy Hirsch presents his version of how it may have been in 1799. It is a fast-paced and well-written thriller with no lack of investment manipulations, political corruption, gangs, racial and ethnic hostilities, grisly murders and all the action that goes with the territory. It is historical fiction, but the author's notes provide insight into his research, and there is also a glossary of some of the lingo that is used abundantly. He took that part of history and came up with a very exciting story. Historical fiction is a favorite of mine, so I read eagerly and was rewarded with an excellent reading experience. I give it all five stars and my recommendation. My book group would have a lively session comparing present day immigration and labor issues with those of New York City in 1799. Of course the skulduggery that went on in the stock market would get some charged responses as well. And if that isn't enough, the politics will add fuel to the fire. This book is one that you will want to talk about.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Ayala

    The Devil’s Half Mile was a romp through Gangs of New York style adventures. It takes place in the underbelly of New York, when the Irishmen are the dogs of the state and Africans are being pulled into slavery and worse. We follow Justy as he tries to find out the truth about what his father was involved in. I really enjoyed his puzzle—he overturned so many rocks that basically no one was safe, and it felt very much like Game of Thrones in terms of how many people died suddenly. I was curious abo The Devil’s Half Mile was a romp through Gangs of New York style adventures. It takes place in the underbelly of New York, when the Irishmen are the dogs of the state and Africans are being pulled into slavery and worse. We follow Justy as he tries to find out the truth about what his father was involved in. I really enjoyed his puzzle—he overturned so many rocks that basically no one was safe, and it felt very much like Game of Thrones in terms of how many people died suddenly. I was curious about how he had so much money and was able to toss it around willy-nilly, but while I never stopped thinking about it it wasn’t enough to ruin the novel for me. It’s a fun historical fiction and brings that time period into the limelight again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ashlee Caldwell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Why only 3 stars you might ask? I got an ARC of this book via my job at Barnes and Noble. This was a good story, Justy was an interesting main character. With a background story that is almost hard to believe. I could not help myself from thinking of him as Bruce Wayne at times. He was just such a good guy with a shocking and brutal past. Kerry was the badass female heroine that I needed in this male based story. I am pissed though that she became the stereotypical female heroine. She was a victi Why only 3 stars you might ask? I got an ARC of this book via my job at Barnes and Noble. This was a good story, Justy was an interesting main character. With a background story that is almost hard to believe. I could not help myself from thinking of him as Bruce Wayne at times. He was just such a good guy with a shocking and brutal past. Kerry was the badass female heroine that I needed in this male based story. I am pissed though that she became the stereotypical female heroine. She was a victim of rape and that is what led her to the paths she was one. WHY?? Why do so many shocking and badass female character need to have a brutalizing back story that involves violence or destruction of some kind. Lars our Norwegian man was my favorite. Something about the way he was presented reminded me of a big teddy bear and I just wanted him to get all the good things! AND HE DID! He sailed as captain and got the girl in the end. I was cheering for Lars even though he was not our main character. This was both a plot and character driven story, I was all about the good guys, the bad guys, and getting justice in the end. The climax of the story I think was finding out the truth of the venture and the truth of who killed Justy’s father. The fight scene I know was supposed to be the main climax, but the releasing of the truth was in my opinion so much better. At the end of the book there is a quote that I think was the best lines in the whole book because they really rounded the story up and spoke such truth. “‘I believe that we are the best guides of ourselves. That we do best when we are not tied up in a knot or rules. But I also believe that men are weak. That they too often fall prey to their basest, most predatory instincts’ ... ‘Rules and laws, then, are necessary. To protect the weak, the naive. The young.’” Overall this was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to people looking for a murder mystery type book whether they are new to the genre or not.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Coleen

    Paddy Hirsch has a talent for writing Fiction, considering this is his first one! Justice Flanagan returns to NYC in 1799 after having gone to school in Dublin to become a lawyer. His father had died before he left and one of Justy's goals is to determine the answer to how that really occurred. Along the way he meets Wall Street, securities and exchanges, and good and bad characters, some related to him, both good and bad. I appreciate that the author tells it like it was: Irish immigrants were t Paddy Hirsch has a talent for writing Fiction, considering this is his first one! Justice Flanagan returns to NYC in 1799 after having gone to school in Dublin to become a lawyer. His father had died before he left and one of Justy's goals is to determine the answer to how that really occurred. Along the way he meets Wall Street, securities and exchanges, and good and bad characters, some related to him, both good and bad. I appreciate that the author tells it like it was: Irish immigrants were treated worse than the black slaves. Neither were treated well, but as property, at least the slaves were treated a little better than the Irish who were treated like trash and tossed aside. The young country's attempts to grow into maturity with at least some morals is observed strongly by Hirsch. And don't forget top read the Author's note, several pages at the end. And he provides a Glossary with Irish terms and slang to help the reader along in the speech. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thank you to the author and the publisher for a copy won in a giveaway! All opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    "Wall Street Trickery, Corrupt Politics, Racial Strife, Gangs, Murder" : these words listed on the book cover could apply to today's America. "The Devil's Half Mile" by Paddy Hirsch takes place in 1779. My curiosity heightened with the book's arrival as the author Paddy Hirsch is synonymous with NPR. Though historical fiction isn't my usual genre, I changed my mind by the conclusion of this book. "The Devil's Half Mile" satisfied my love of mystery/thrillers, characters that are fully developed, "Wall Street Trickery, Corrupt Politics, Racial Strife, Gangs, Murder" : these words listed on the book cover could apply to today's America. "The Devil's Half Mile" by Paddy Hirsch takes place in 1779. My curiosity heightened with the book's arrival as the author Paddy Hirsch is synonymous with NPR. Though historical fiction isn't my usual genre, I changed my mind by the conclusion of this book. "The Devil's Half Mile" satisfied my love of mystery/thrillers, characters that are fully developed, and learning about a location, and time that I'm unfamiliar with. I enthusiastly recommend Paddy Hirsch's fiction debut.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Seven years after the Panic of 1792, Justice Flanagan returns to New York City after attending school and participating in war in Europe. Eager to solve his father's murder, Justice finds old friends and makes a few new ones, discovering who can trust - and who he shouldn't. This is the author's first fiction piece, and he nailed it. The speed of the story was consistent, with small breaks to give me a chance to breathe, and the characters were well-developed. Hirsch also did his historical home Seven years after the Panic of 1792, Justice Flanagan returns to New York City after attending school and participating in war in Europe. Eager to solve his father's murder, Justice finds old friends and makes a few new ones, discovering who can trust - and who he shouldn't. This is the author's first fiction piece, and he nailed it. The speed of the story was consistent, with small breaks to give me a chance to breathe, and the characters were well-developed. Hirsch also did his historical homework. What started out as project research turned into a wonderful story, full of imagery and colorful language. Kudos for including the dictionary! In the interest of disclosure, I picked this up from the advance reader copy (ARC) table where I work. I am so glad I did! 5-stars and highly recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction/mystery.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Law

    The Devil’s Half Mile, by Paddy Hirsch, is a crime thriller set in a burgeoning New York in 1799. At this time there were few laws and fewer law enforcement employees. The city was managed by racqueteers who kept a fragile peace through violence and intimidation. A recent state ruling had resulted in the freeing of a large number of slaves who vied with the Irish community for whatever low paid work they could find. The racqueteers ran brothels, collected protection money and guarded their turf The Devil’s Half Mile, by Paddy Hirsch, is a crime thriller set in a burgeoning New York in 1799. At this time there were few laws and fewer law enforcement employees. The city was managed by racqueteers who kept a fragile peace through violence and intimidation. A recent state ruling had resulted in the freeing of a large number of slaves who vied with the Irish community for whatever low paid work they could find. The racqueteers ran brothels, collected protection money and guarded their turf through a network of spies and thuggery. Those residents with capital tried to increase their holdings via investments and scams operating through the unregulated stock market which met in busy coffee shops around Wall Street – the devil’s half mile. Into this powder keg of risk and resentment arrives our protagonist, Justy Flanagan, fresh out of university in Ireland where he learned the law, alongside more practical skills fighting English oppressors. Justy’s uncle, The Bull, is a feared overlord in New York who took the boy in following his father’s suicide. Justy no longer believes that his father took his own life. He suspects murder and has returned seeking justice and revenge. Justy sails into New York aboard a ship on which his good friend and former comrade in arms, Lars Hokkanssen, is working. On arrival in port he meets an old friend from his childhood, Kerry O’Toole, who has turned to a life of crime. Justy feels a degree of guilt for leaving Kerry to cope while he sought to better himself. He refuses to blame her for what she has become. Justy locates and questions his father’s old acquaintances to discover for himself who the partners were in the financial scheme blamed for his death. He is aided by Lars but is watched by those who wish to protect their secrets. Violence follows, the death count rises and ideals are compromised. Justy becomes embroiled in sickening plans. The squalor and brutality of a fast growing settlement are well evoked. The resentments felt by those whose jobs are threatened by a sudden influx of new workers is familiar, as is the timeless greed of those eager to make money by whatever means, including feeding abhorrent appetites. Justy is something of a trope with his high mindedness, skills in killing and moral ambiguity. Threads are set up that suggest a possible sequel. The author offers plenty of twists as the plot progresses along with an ongoing quandary over who can be trusted. There are rather too many crises and serious injuries fought through as Justy interacts with his enemies. The historical setting is of interest but as a crime thriller I struggled to maintain engagement. A violent story built on a plausible premise but not one for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    It took me a minute to place the author's very familiar name, especially when I looked him up in Goodreads and found... almost nothing. Just some obscure book about economics. And then it occurred to me--he's on NPR's Marketplace! I love him! (He's actually on leave to focus on his writing which is a bummer. Not the writing part, but why can't he do both?) In 1799 New York, Justy has just returned from law school in Scotland, where he was also involved in some Scottish skirmishes. Before he left, It took me a minute to place the author's very familiar name, especially when I looked him up in Goodreads and found... almost nothing. Just some obscure book about economics. And then it occurred to me--he's on NPR's Marketplace! I love him! (He's actually on leave to focus on his writing which is a bummer. Not the writing part, but why can't he do both?) In 1799 New York, Justy has just returned from law school in Scotland, where he was also involved in some Scottish skirmishes. Before he left, his father committed suicide, so he returns an orphan, under the financial care of his uncle, a gangster of sorts, even though he desperately doesn't want to be under any obligation to or connection with the underworld. He wants to be upstanding and ethical, like his father. And in fact, he doesn't think his father would ever commit suicide. And as he's thought about it over the last few years, he doesn't believe that he did--he thinks he was murdered and it was staged to look like a suicide. As Justy looks into that, things quickly take a turn, as he angers some important people who want to keep things secret and won't hesitate to shut him up permanently. A real thrilling page-turner with a cameo by Alexander Hamilton, this was a truly fun read. I think this period in American history, particularly in places like New York, is utterly fascinating and very ripe for stories, so I'm glad to see someone mining that fertile era. It really reads like a movie, very visual, with chase scenes and the like. It predates The Alienist by a century but is similar in some ways, with the old New York feel, but in this book, there's a real lawlessness I normally associate with the Wild West, as there aren't really cops (police haven't exactly been invented yet) and people to a certain extent have to police themselves and can't rely on the good guys to come save the day. Justy has to find out the truth and save himself, all by himself. (Well, with the help of a couple of friends.) Good rollicking fun.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. There is a definite Gangs of New York feeling to this (if you haven't seen that movie then that won't make sense). This is the precursor it feels to that, Wall Street is in it's infancy - full of crooks, who are totally unregulated. Our main character Justy has returned to New York after spending a number of years in Ireland and France, where he has picked up among other things a law degree (from Ireland) and some detective skills (from Fran I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. There is a definite Gangs of New York feeling to this (if you haven't seen that movie then that won't make sense). This is the precursor it feels to that, Wall Street is in it's infancy - full of crooks, who are totally unregulated. Our main character Justy has returned to New York after spending a number of years in Ireland and France, where he has picked up among other things a law degree (from Ireland) and some detective skills (from France, who had the first proper detectives). While there he came to realise the suicide of his father was more suspicious than it appeared at the time it happened when he was younger, he's more experienced now and knows the signs of a murder versus a suicide by hanging. He plans on uncovering the truth and all it entails, but the people involved don't want him upsetting their little party and aren't afraid to add to their body count. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, reading most of it in a single sitting (it is a relatively short one at under 300 pages) and it feels like a good start to a series, which i would definitely want to read more of in this world. You could almost smell the streets and hear the background noise it was all so well written. The language could get a little annoying sometimes as you had to flick and forward to the glossary at the end to find out the meaning of some of the lingo they use, but it didn't detract from the story too much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen Parisot

    The main character of Paddy Hirsch’s debut novel, Justice Flanagan, is appropriately named. He is after all a newly minted lawyer in search of justice for his murdered father. The novel is set in 1799 New York, a short time after the Panic of 1792, the first great financial crisis to hit the U.S. A historical thriller that is more thriller than history, the author’s note at the end of the book explains which parts of the story are accurate. There is lots and lots of slang here. Most of it you ca The main character of Paddy Hirsch’s debut novel, Justice Flanagan, is appropriately named. He is after all a newly minted lawyer in search of justice for his murdered father. The novel is set in 1799 New York, a short time after the Panic of 1792, the first great financial crisis to hit the U.S. A historical thriller that is more thriller than history, the author’s note at the end of the book explains which parts of the story are accurate. There is lots and lots of slang here. Most of it you can get the gist of from the story, but if you want the exact meaning of any of the phrases, there is a glossary at the back of the book. Between the colorful language and the detailed descriptions of late 18th century New York, you’ll have no trouble at all imagining what life was like at the time. Well written, the story moves along quickly right up to it’s satisfying conclusion. With themes of greed, racism, and prejudice it’s a reminder of where we’ve come from and how far we have to go.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I thoroughly enjoyed the historical fiction by Paddy Herschel, The Devil's Half Mile. The novel is set in New York City (Wall Street), 1799, and populated with fictional characters as well as the well-known personnages involved in setting up our newborn country. I've been reading a lot of biography and historical fiction from this time period so this fit in nicely. One aspect of our young country that is usually passsed over is the treatment of the Irish immigrants who fared worse than the slave I thoroughly enjoyed the historical fiction by Paddy Herschel, The Devil's Half Mile. The novel is set in New York City (Wall Street), 1799, and populated with fictional characters as well as the well-known personnages involved in setting up our newborn country. I've been reading a lot of biography and historical fiction from this time period so this fit in nicely. One aspect of our young country that is usually passsed over is the treatment of the Irish immigrants who fared worse than the slaves. Since this is fiction, there was a lot of creative license in the young lawyer, Justice Flanagan, and his ability to solve murders. I received this novel from a fellow goodreads reader.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Readerready

    'The devils half mile' was a good book, it was well wrote and immersive, I could picture New York in the 1790's and all the characters there, following 'Justy' as he first steps of the boat and back to his home. There was plenty happening in the book to keep me turning the pages and I could lose myself in the writing. Though once I put the book down I did not necessarily feel compelled to pick it back up again, because I felt you could open it at any point in the book and feel you hadn't missed 'The devils half mile' was a good book, it was well wrote and immersive, I could picture New York in the 1790's and all the characters there, following 'Justy' as he first steps of the boat and back to his home. There was plenty happening in the book to keep me turning the pages and I could lose myself in the writing. Though once I put the book down I did not necessarily feel compelled to pick it back up again, because I felt you could open it at any point in the book and feel you hadn't missed much. It was a good book though with a good plot, that I would recommend it to a friend. The detail of the writing was what really made this book for me, from the description of the streets of New York to how the characters spoke to eachother, the writer really takes you to the place of the plot.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Love dipatri

    Crime fiction set in Hamilton’s New York City with intriguing characters and page turning mystery... My only beef with Devil’s Half Mile was that it kept me up way too late! I love crime fiction, but sometimes a twisty plot comes at the expense of quality. This book delivers all around. It is well written, with characters and a setting that feels cinematic. (It would make such a great movie!) I loved the Irish and period jargon in this book. It feels authentic and was a deeply satisfying read. F Crime fiction set in Hamilton’s New York City with intriguing characters and page turning mystery... My only beef with Devil’s Half Mile was that it kept me up way too late! I love crime fiction, but sometimes a twisty plot comes at the expense of quality. This book delivers all around. It is well written, with characters and a setting that feels cinematic. (It would make such a great movie!) I loved the Irish and period jargon in this book. It feels authentic and was a deeply satisfying read. Fingers crossed that this becomes a long series!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    *I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest opinion* I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had a lot of interesting elements to it. The financial aspect was interesting, it was neat reading about how corrupt Wall Street was back then without the regulations we have today. The racial angle was well handled and I like how the book focused on the negative attitudes towards black people and Irish people. I especially like how it focused on the attitudes towards the Irish, as *I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest opinion* I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had a lot of interesting elements to it. The financial aspect was interesting, it was neat reading about how corrupt Wall Street was back then without the regulations we have today. The racial angle was well handled and I like how the book focused on the negative attitudes towards black people and Irish people. I especially like how it focused on the attitudes towards the Irish, as I don't really know of many fiction books that tackle that topic. As for the gangs and the murder, I thought it was thrilling although I did think a few things were predictable. Not overly predictable though, as I was still surprised every now and then. Overall, great book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    A wonderful view of NYC in 1799. It is a dirty, violent time when scandal runs rampant and the law is often twisted. The economic history that lies at the heart of this tale is fascinating. The reader pulled you right into this audio book. Beware the vivid murder scenes. Look for a different review at AudioFile Magazine http://www.audiofilemagazine.com

  28. 5 out of 5

    Juliat

    This is an historical thriller set against the backdrop of New York in 1799 where people were traded like commodities and violence the order of the day. Justice Flanagan has just returned from Ireland and Europe where he qualified as a lawyer and then learned the early policing investigative techniques developed in Paris and London. He returns to a city in the middle of a dock side war between the Irish and the free Negros for work. Then young black girls are found murdered. Justice is a well roun This is an historical thriller set against the backdrop of New York in 1799 where people were traded like commodities and violence the order of the day. Justice Flanagan has just returned from Ireland and Europe where he qualified as a lawyer and then learned the early policing investigative techniques developed in Paris and London. He returns to a city in the middle of a dock side war between the Irish and the free Negros for work. Then young black girls are found murdered. Justice is a well rounded character trying to make sense of his past and his relationships with friends and relatives now he’s an adult. This is quite well written and the story keeps you involved but the ending leaves you feeling a little disappointed as you want more. Perfect set up for a sequel!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I am a fan of historical fiction, but haven't read any in this particular era before. The story takes place in NY on Wall Street in the era of Alexander Hamilton. A young lawyer returns from studying abroad to try to solve what he believes to be his father's murder, but was ruled a suicide at the time. The story involves corrupt politicians, gangs, law officers, etc. Overall I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't one that I just couldn't put down. I was curious enough on how it would end to keep read I am a fan of historical fiction, but haven't read any in this particular era before. The story takes place in NY on Wall Street in the era of Alexander Hamilton. A young lawyer returns from studying abroad to try to solve what he believes to be his father's murder, but was ruled a suicide at the time. The story involves corrupt politicians, gangs, law officers, etc. Overall I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't one that I just couldn't put down. I was curious enough on how it would end to keep reading, but can't say I would read any sequels if there ever were any. It's a good read, especially if you like that era of history. But if you don't, it might not appeal to you as much. I received this book for free as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for my honest opinion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Muckerman

    Solid. Really enjoyable. The overall story is a solid murder mystery: well developed with strong characters, pace and a nice twist. A period piece of historical fiction, Hirsch makes it work because while the setting is integral to the story, he avoids the obvious trap of making the period THE focus of the story - it's a work of fiction, not a history book, and by staying true to the former he produces a nice piece of work. It stands alone on its merits and is a solid start-to-finish complete wor Solid. Really enjoyable. The overall story is a solid murder mystery: well developed with strong characters, pace and a nice twist. A period piece of historical fiction, Hirsch makes it work because while the setting is integral to the story, he avoids the obvious trap of making the period THE focus of the story - it's a work of fiction, not a history book, and by staying true to the former he produces a nice piece of work. It stands alone on its merits and is a solid start-to-finish complete work, but does leave a door open for more follow on works. Recommended read!

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