The Mobster’s Lament is the third of Ray Celestin’s City Blues Quartet. Each novel is set in a time and place where Louis Armstrong once performed: New Orleans; Chicago; now New York in 1947; and, in the final instalment, Los Angeles. It turns out to be a terrific conceit. The theme is crime in each city, featuring real criminals (in New York they include Bugsy Siegel and mafia boss Frank Costello) and a couple of fictional private detectives... Believable plots, and Celestin is hugely knowledgeable in portraying the atmosphere of New York. The series is a delight.
...the third novel in the City Blues quartet, which charts, via the careers of investigators Ida Davis and Michael Talbot, the twin histories of jazz and the mob in 20th-century America. This one is set in New York in 1947, where former Pinkerton operatives are trying to prove the innocence of Talbot’s son Tom, who is accused of the brutal murders of four people in a Harlem flophouse... Things aren’t going well for Louis Armstrong, either: the era of the big band is over, and he desperately needs to revive his flagging career. Celestin deftly weaves these strands together to create not only a satisfying and multi-layered mystery, but also a well researched and dynamic portrait of a teeming city, rife with corruption.