Death At the Old Hotel: A Bartender Brian McNulty Mystery
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
rian McNulty - New York bartender, wannabe actor, and reluctant investigator - was introduced in
Beware the Solitary Drinker
and came back for seconds in
What Goes Around Comes Around
. Between drinks, he bounced reactively between encounters with violence, death, and and racketeering.
f course, there's more of all this in
Death At the Old Hotel
, the Savoy, where Brian has landed a job through a friend, wild young Irishman Barney Saunders after his previous misadventures caused him to be dumped by the Sheraton management. Barney, who is Brian's behind the bar partner and '
a derring-do kind of guy
', wants to reform the corrupt union, which chooses to turn a blind eye to the hotel's low pay scales and minimal benefits. Barney suspects collusion between Eliot, the union business agent, and the hotel manager, James MacAlister.
he violence begins with a sickeningly vicious attack on Barney himself. Wanting to do something, but also to avoid ending up in hospital with his friend, Brian turns to a wise mentor, his colorful Communist Pop, who says of union gangsters, '
They're like cockroaches. When you turn on the lights, they scatter for cover.
' Brian enlists the help of a femme fatale of a waitress, Betsy, who's also a young mother married to an abusive cop. Then an injustice prompts a wildcat strike which Brian helps organize and, as they begin to dig, murders complicate matters further.
he usual cast of quirky characters include Brian's helpful cabdriver friend Ntango. McNulty adopts a stray cat and has trouble with his teen son Kevin, who doesn't want to continue living with his mother. And he does figure out
who done what
and why, in a fitting resolution to the mystery. Note that the author offers a bonus at the back of the book - bar recipes for over thirty of
McNulty's Old Favorites
for the reader to taste while turning the pages.
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