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Thursday 7 October 2021

‘Blood Count’ by Reggie Nadelson

 Published by Atlantic Books,
15th February 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-84354-836-1(PB)

A surprise telephone call from ex girlfriend Lily Haines takes Detective Artie Cohen to the Louis Armstrong Apartment Building, one of Harlem’s most historic buildings. Lily has been now living in the Armstrong building while working on Obama's campaign. When her neighbour and friend Marianna Simonova is found dead, Lily begs Artie for help, for Artie left Moscow at age 16 and Marianna was Russian.  

Artie is perplexed by the situation, but further entreaty from Lily’s new boyfriend Detective Virgil Radcliffe has him hesitating not for Virgil but for Lily.  Although they are no longer together Artie still loves her and will do anything to help her.

The story covers a cold snow locked weekend, and during this weekend Artie is drawn into the lives of the long-term residents of the Armstrong building.  Even as he comes to learn more about the residents, the death of three of the residents in quick succession is unusual even taking into account their advanced ages.

The background is December 2008, and the election of Barack Obama, and the hope that it signals to the occupants of the Armstrong Building.

Atmospheric with a setting of jazz, intrigue and politics, I guess the last two go hand-in-hand.  Artie tries to make sense of the situation, but something is off, and troubling him and he cannot pin it down.

A book that keeps the reader guessing. Recommended

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Reggie Nadelson is a New Yorker who also makes her home in London. Born and raised in Greenwich Village. She was educated the local City and Country school and Elisabeth Irwin High School, majored in English at Vassar, and attended Stanford for her graduate degree in journalism. After college, she travelled a lot and did all kinds of jobs in publishing and journalism. She always wanted to write but never came to it and ended up in London writing a column first for The Guardian, and then The Independent. Then she began writing and sometimes narrating and producing documentaries for the BBC. The first of these was the acclaimed Comrade Rockstar, about Dean Reed – ‘The Red Elvis’ -which also became a book the rights for which have since been bought by Tom Hanks who is planning to film it. As a journalist, she regularly writes for on travel, fashion and culture for Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveller, Departures and the Financial Times, and contributes radio pieces to the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent

Nadelson’s most beloved creation, however, is the detective Artie Cohen, a New York Cit cop, as wounded and damaged as the city itself. A man the Guardian dubbed “‘the detective every woman would like to find in her bed”.

Artie first appeared in 1995 in Red Mercury Blues, and has appeared in five novels since then… Nadelson’s bittersweet modern New York noir is peopled by emigrés and immigrants, Russian oligarchs and Italian garbage moguls moving effortlessly from the high life, lived in glass condos on the Hudson River to the rotten docks in Brooklyn and out beyond Manhattan in desolate suburbs. In the New York of Nadelson’s post 9/11 “Archipelago Trilogy”, the streets are darker and meaner than ever Raymond Chandler imaged them, and in her electrifying books, come alive with as disparate, damaged and yet deeply human as the city they haunt.

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