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The Letter Writer: A novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2016
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Description
The first thing Woodrow Cain sees when he steps off the train in New York City on February 9, 1942, is smoke from an ocean liner in flames in the harbor. It’s the Normandie, and word on the street is that it was burned by German saboteurs. “Ten lousy minutes in New York and already his new life felt as full of loss and betrayal as the one he’d left behind.”
What he left behind in a small North Carolina town was a wife who’d left him, a daughter in the care of his sister, and a career as a police officer marred by questions surrounding his partner’s murder. When he gets a job with the NYPD, he wants to believe it’s the beginning of a new life, though he suspects that the past is as tenacious as “a parasite in the bloodstream.”
It’s on the job that Cain comes in contact with a man who calls himself Danziger. He has the appearance of a “crackpot,” but he speaks five languages, has the manners of a man of means and education—and he appears to be the one person who can help Cain identify a body just found floating in the Hudson River. But who exactly is Danziger? He’s a writer of letters for illiterate immigrants on Manhattan’s Lower East Side—“a steadfast practitioner of concealing and forgetting” for his clients, and perhaps for himself: he hints at a much more worldly past. What and whoever he really is or has been, he has a seemingly boundless knowledge of the city and its denizens. And he knows much more than the mere identity of the floating corpse. For one thing, he knows how the dead man was involved in New York City’s “Little Deutschland,” where swastikas were proudly displayed just months before. And he also seems to know how the investigation will put Cain—and perhaps his daughter and the woman he’s fallen for—in harm’s way. But even Danziger can’t know that the more he and Cain investigate, the nearer they come to the center of a citywide web of possibly traitorous corruption from which neither of them may get out alive.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/19/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101875070
ASIN:
B0104EOGR4
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Dan Fesperman. (2016). The Letter Writer: A novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Dan Fesperman. 2016. The Letter Writer: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Dan Fesperman, The Letter Writer: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Dan Fesperman. The Letter Writer: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:56:24
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: DAN FESPERMAN's travels as a journalist and novelist have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Association of Crime Writers.
         
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title
The Letter Writer
fullDescription
The first thing Woodrow Cain sees when he steps off the train in New York City on February 9, 1942, is smoke from an ocean liner in flames in the harbor. It’s the Normandie, and word on the street is that it was burned by German saboteurs. “Ten lousy minutes in New York and already his new life felt as full of loss and betrayal as the one he’d left behind.”
What he left behind in a small North Carolina town was a wife who’d left him, a daughter in the care of his sister, and a career as a police officer marred by questions surrounding his partner’s murder. When he gets a job with the NYPD, he wants to believe it’s the beginning of a new life, though he suspects that the past is as tenacious as “a parasite in the bloodstream.”
It’s on the job that Cain comes in contact with a man who calls himself Danziger. He has the appearance of a “crackpot,” but he speaks five languages, has the manners of a man of means and education—and he appears to be the one person who can help Cain identify a body just found floating in the Hudson River. But who exactly is Danziger? He’s a writer of letters for illiterate immigrants on Manhattan’s Lower East Side—“a steadfast practitioner of concealing and forgetting” for his clients, and perhaps for himself: he hints at a much more worldly past. What and whoever he really is or has been, he has a seemingly boundless knowledge of the city and its denizens. And he knows much more than the mere identity of the floating corpse. For one thing, he knows how the dead man was involved in New York City’s “Little Deutschland,” where swastikas were proudly displayed just months before. And he also seems to know how the investigation will put Cain—and perhaps his daughter and the woman he’s fallen for—in harm’s way. But even Danziger can’t know that the more he and Cain investigate, the nearer they come to the center of a citywide web of possibly traitorous corruption from which neither of them may get out alive.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 8, 2016
        North Carolina police detective Woodrow Cain, the hero of this intelligent, if flawed, thriller, must overcome his provincial ways and navigate the corrupt, racist world of big-city law enforcement on his arrival in New York City in 1942. His first case, what appears to be a simple murder of a man found dead in the Hudson River, quickly leads Cain to an uncomfortable discovery: patriotic zeal has led the NYPD and the city’s crime bosses to enter into a tacit understanding to work together to cleanse the city of troublesome immigrants. Fesperman (Unmanned) shows a skilled hand at creating the detail of wartime New York—the vitality of the German Yorkville section, the hysteria following the bombing of the luxury liner the Normandie, the influence of mobster Meyer Lansky. Unfortunately, the plot splinters in several directions and never delivers on its initial promise. Still, the likable and well-drawn Cain will go over well with readers, especially those fond of historicals. Agent: Jane Chelius, Jane Chelius Literary Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2016
        Many mysteries play out on the big stage of World War II-era New York, where information is the currency of the times. Woodrow Cain--Citizen Cain, as his fellow detectives in the 14th precinct call him--steps into the drama of the city. He's damaged goods, a disgraced cop from North Carolina, wounded and emotionally scarred by a shooting, now on the NYPD thanks to his connected father-in-law (soon to be ex-). Cain is assigned a murder on the waterfront, and soon, too many policemen, high-powered lawyers, district attorneys, and mobsters are interested. So too is "the letter writer" of the title. Maximilian Danziger is a wizard of a character "whose product, as [his] business card plainly states, is information." He speaks German, Russian, Yiddish, and Italian and writes letters to the friends and families of his illiterate clients. He's a scribe who keeps secrets, gathers information, and sees the patterns of crime in the city. Fesperman's troop of characters, historic and fictional, makes New York come alive with conspiracy and mystery. At times, there are too many mysteries, bogging down the story and dragging the pace of the novel. Investigation of the murders of four German immigrants who are members of a fascist sect in America leads to investigation of graft within the halls of the 14th Precinct, which takes us to a cabal of leading city, intelligence, and mob figures gathered together under the flag of patriotism. But at the center of this labyrinth is the cryptic life of Danziger, a Sherlock-like creation who knows many of the answers and hides his past by manipulating information. As his story unfolds through a police file acquired by Cain, the story kicks into thriller overdrive. Fesperman gives us a well-crafted novel steeped in the politics and street life of 1940s New York, and in the letter writer, he's created a character who will stay with you long after the last shot is fired.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 1, 2016
        The WWII alliance between the Mafia and the U.S. government has been explored in crime fiction beforeby Eric Dezenhall in The Devil Himself (2011) and by James R. Benn in Blood Alone (2008)but never in such compelling fashion as Fesperman does here. His marriage in shambles, former North Carolina cop Woodrow Cain arrives in New York in early 1942 with a new job (NYPD detective, arranged by his wealthy father-in-law) and with the stink of scandal still clinging to his clothes like yesterday's Lucky Strikes. He draws a seemingly dead-end murder case but gets lucky when an impoverished but educated man called Danziger, who earns his living writing letters for illiterate immigrants, provides information about the body, about German spies, and about corruption in the NYPD. Why does Danziger know so much about everything, including the Mafia? Why is Cain's father-in-law interfering in Cain's investigation? The police-corruption theme is a familiar one, of course, but what makes this novel shine is the way Fesperman combines it with the mobsters-as-patriots angle and with the rich character of the letter writer. A multifaceted mix of mystery and historical fiction.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
The first thing Woodrow Cain sees when he steps off the train in New York City on February 9, 1942, is smoke from an ocean liner in flames in the harbor. It’s the Normandie, and word on the street is that it was burned by German saboteurs. “Ten lousy minutes in New York and already his new life felt as full of loss and betrayal as the one he’d left behind.”
What he left behind in a small North Carolina town was a wife who’d left him, a daughter in the care of his sister, and a career as a police officer marred by questions surrounding his partner’s murder. When he gets a job with the NYPD, he wants to believe it’s the beginning of a new life, though he suspects that the past is as tenacious as “a parasite in the bloodstream.”
It’s on the job that Cain comes in contact with a man who calls himself Danziger. He has the appearance of a “crackpot,” but he speaks five languages, has the manners of a...
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