City of Woe

Christopher Ryan

What if Paul Farrington, a veteran fixer for a shady corporation, found himself targeted for elimination just as he was trying to finance his daughter’s Ivy League education? How far would he go to provide for his family and keep them safe?

What if detectives Frank Mallory and Alberto “Gunner” Gennaro were forced to play catch up with a killer who may or may not be a demon and who leaves trails of Dantesque murders, each one occurring further south in Manhattan and deeper into his version of The Inferno?

How could these situations be connected?

How long can the detectives stick to strict police procedural facts when confronted with increasingly bizarre events, especially once they begin invading Mallory’s private life? And how does he find a balance between his rejection of the case’s alleged demonic elements and his strong desire to believe his dying father’s visions of long dead relatives beckoning him to heaven? When must a detective reconsider what exists outside man’s law?

These are the dominant concerns of City of Woe, a novel combining Ryan’s personal experiences, knowledge of the family business (the NYPD), an understanding of literary classics and a love for classic rock and roll. Running 327 double-spaced manuscript pages, readers have noted obvious references to Dante’s The Inferno, subtle nods to Joyce’s Dubliners and Ulysses and the influences of Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley, and Richard Price.

Advanced praise for City of Woe

Tough and tender, City of Woe is a riveting combination of a straight-up police procedural matched with a psychological thriller - think Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series meets Seven- that also dips into the world of the spiritual bordering on the preternatural. Christopher Ryan writes with authority, verve, and humor; his prose is sharp, quick-witted, and as multifaceted as the streets of New York. His characters are smart, hard-fisted, and full fleshed. Mallory and Gunner should prove ripe for many more adventures. I'm already looking forward to the next one. An impressive debut that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good solid read.

-- Michael Rogers,
Senior Editor, Library Journal

In his debut novel, City of Woe, Christopher Ryan does a smart turn on the classic police procedural in this murder mystery in which the hero, Detective Mallory, begins to wonder if the perp is as other worldly as his dying father's visions. Ryan's characters are fresh and convincing, his dialogue sharp and funny, and his plot twists will keep readers guessing right up through the suspenseful climax. You don't need to know Dante's Inferno or Joyce's Dubliners to enjoy this book, but the subtle references add to the many pleasures to be found in these pages. This is a great read.

-- Alice Elliott Dark,
Award-winning author of In the Gloaming,
Think of England, and Naked to the Waist

Reading Christopher Ryan’s debut novel City of Woe transports me back to my days in the NYPD’s Detective Bureau. The dogged pursuit of a killer, the attention to procedural detail, and the witty banter between the hero Mallory and his partner Gunner are dead-on accurate. Ryan has an uncanny ability to bring the reader into many diverse worlds. Far from being a mere detective story, Ryan’s tour de force gives the reader an education into homicide investigation, Dante’s Inferno, Bronx Irish family life, the Roman Catholic Church, and the glory days of Rock and Roll. This would be a difficult feat for a veteran author; Ryan accomplishes it all with ease. City of Woe is a terrific read that I was reluctant to have end. I eagerly await the next one.

-- Jean-Michael Akey,
NYPD Detective Sergeant, Ret.

Thanks much for taking to taking the time to talk with our book group about City of Woe. It was great fun to hear your thoughts and experiences that went into the book and about the process of creating it. I've never been mistaken for someone who knows anything about literature, but I've read a lot of cop stories, and I thought City of Woe was one of the real winners. If you can interest the people who recognize Dante and Joyce, more power to you. But if you can grab the guys like me who just love a good story well told, you'll sell a lot of books. Best of luck with City of Woe - I'm looking forward to the sequels.

--Don Harrington, New Canaan, Conn.
Computer Specialist, Williams College '71
(and thriller/mystery fan)

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Christopher Ryan spent eight years as an award-winning Bronx crime and politics reporter, winning awards as Best News columnist (NYS Newspaper Association), Journalist of the Year, and a DeWitt Clinton Masonic Award for Community Service, among others.
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