The debut novel by Jim Fusilli, Closing Time a features a rugged New York private investigator named Terry Orr. Sounds like your standard detective fare, doesn’t it? Well, not quite. Orr, at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, is built like a linebacker and he does get into several skirmishes in the book. But what sets Orr apart from your typical gumshoe is his relationship with his 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella. Still mourning the murder of his wife and infant son, Orr struggles to return to his writing career and cope with the fact that he must now raise his soon-to-be teenage daughter. When a cab driver is murdered and Orr finds the body, he is driven to investigate the homicide as he identifies with the crime all too well. The investigation takes Orr into the dangerous underworld of the Big Apple, as well as what I’d call a rather unique art scene that seems limited to New York City. Along the way, we meet a couple of Orr’s rather interesting friends — Leo, a corpulent bartender from New Orleans who reads Times-Picayune religiously and Diddio, a hippie music critic who takes Orr to several night spots around town. Like Lawrence Sanders and Lawrence Block before him, Fusilli is able to capture the culture and essence of New York while weaving together an intriguing story filled with interesting characters. While I can’t identify with the city and doubt I could live there, I enjoyed peeking into the Big Apple and watching Orr unravel this mystery. Kudos to Fusilli for showing the character of the city through the city and its characters.

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