Modern Day Fiction


Akst, Daniel

   St. Burl’s Obituary, 1996.

Burleigh Bennett, a chaste but otherwise learned writer of newspaper obituaries, is used to capping a night’s work of tending to the dead by satisfying his own deepest hungers at his favorite New York restaurant, where the obliging staff helps maintain his weight at a nice round three hundred pounds. When Burl stumbles one night into a gangland slaying, his life of moral virtue and culinary vice is turned upside down, and he embarks on a uniquely American odyssey that gives life to the adage “Imprisoned in every fat man, a thin one is wildly signaling to be let out.”





Atwood, Russell
    East of A, 1999.

New York City's hot-wired East Village: From Avenue A to Avenue D, Alphabet City is a magnet for all-night revelers, actors, musicians, and artists. But it's also a lair for desperate hustlers, con men, and last-chance addicts. Payton Sherwood lives that scene daily. Payton returns to the Lower East Side after a short absence to find himself an outsider. When he takes a wrong turn on a side street, he stumbles into trouble in the form of three bull-necked heavies and a tough sixteen-year-old runaway named Gloria. After taking a savage beating, Payton is robbed of his watch and left bleeding on the sidewalk. Trying to retrieve his three-thousand-dollar wristwatch has its perils. So does tracking Gloria, whose trail zigzags from a stray dog to a psycho boyfriend to an ice-hearted killer. Following clues, Payton winds his way through Alphabet City--in and out of trendy after-hour dives, across barrio tenements and vacant lots where the homeless camp, and finally on a descent into a nightclub in a defunct church: the Hellhole. Payton's dusk-to-dawn nightmare on the wild side is about to begin--and nothing will stop it but death.



Bolton, Isabel

    New York Mosaic, 1997.

In all three of these novels, voices move the stories—each carefully constructed narrative is built by the layering of conversation, perception, and inner monologue onto lyrical descriptions of a vibrating New York City.






Bushnell, Candace

    Four Blondes, 2000.

Come to the playgrounds of Manhattan’s powerful and beautiful. Get an insider’s look at the romantic intrigues, liaisons, and betrayals among the elite. This novel chronicles the lives of four beautiful women—a model, a columnist, a socialite, and a writer—as they face turning points in which each must choose between her passions.





Cook, Robin

    Vector, 1999.

A disgruntled Russian émigré is poised to lash out at the adopted nation he believes has denied him the American dream. A former technician in the Soviet biological weapons system, he possesses the knowledge to unleash into the streets of New York City the ultimate terror: a modern bioweapon. But before he executes his final act of vengeance, he must first experiment on a few unsuspecting victims…





Doctorow, E.L.

    City of God: A Novel, 2000.

E.L. Doctorow creates a collage of memories, events, visions, and provocative thought, all centered on the idea of a modern reality of God. At the heart of this stylistically daring tour-de-force is a detective story about a cross that vanishes from a Lower-East-Side church, only to reappear on the roof of an Upper-West-Side synagogue. Intrigued by the mystery-and by the Episcopal priest and female rabbi who investigate the strange desecration-is a well-known novelist whose capacious brain is a virtual repository for the ideas and disasters of the age.




Donati, Alyssa
    The Marzipan Pigeon, 1994.

This novel concerns a group of friends living in Manhattan. Ella falls in love with a married man who intends to stay that way and proceeds to unweave her life with Stephen, the man she fell in love with in college and has lived with for almost 10 years. Ave is a professional manipulator who deceives no one more than herself. Cynthia is a quiet violinist with no self-confidence who allows herself to be hurt because she doesn't believe she deserves any better, and Burton is incapable of saying no to either those who demand too much of him or himself when he knows what he is doing is wrong.




Duffy, James
    Dog Bites Man! City Shocked!, 2001.

A tongue-in-cheek saga detailing the downfall of Eldon Hoagland, an innocent Columbia University professor who has become New York City's good-government mayor. The spiral begins when Hoagland, after an evening of drinking, staggers out of an apartment house, steps on a dog relieving itself, and gets badly bitten. His cop-bodyguards shoot the dog and in the process terrorize Genc Serreqi -- an illegal Albanian stud who walks the dog, -- and he flees the scene. The mayor's bodyguards attempt to cover up their involvement in the shooting, but an eager young reporter investigates and exposes the canine slaying. Then extreme animal activists, aided and abetted by every other interest group with a grievance against the mayor, tie up the city (not to mention air traffic around the world) in a monumental demonstration. Also offering encouragement are the rabid, newly amalgamated daily Post-News and the state's first woman governor, who nurses an ancient grudge against the mayor and hastens his political demise.




Farren, Mick

    The Time of Feasting, 1996.

Renquist, the centuries-old colony master of a group of vampires that live secretly in New York City, is beset on one side by the young vampires who hunger for blood and on the other by a priest and cop who are beginning to suspect the truth.





Friedman, Kinky

    The Mile High Club, 2000.

It all starts with a casual flirtation, two people on a flight from Dallas to New York. She's gorgeous and mysterious; he's a private detective. When the plane lands, the detective -- our hero, Kinky -- finds he's been left holding the bag, literally. The woman, having asked the Kinkster to watch her luggage while she visits the can, has taken a powder and somehow vanished. Mystery Woman does turn up again, but not before Kinky has claimed the interest of an array of suits from the State Department, been party to a thwarted kidnap attempt by Arab terrorists, and found a dead Israeli agent parked on the toilet of his downtown Manhattan loft.




Glass, Leslie

    Tracking Time, 2000.

It's a foggy early September evening when Dr. Maslow Atkins, a psychoanalytic candidate and student, is assaulted and disappears in Central Park. The only people who know what happened to him are an inebriated homeless man hoping for a handout; Brandy and David, two wealthy private school kids; and Allegra, Maslow's disturbed young patient who's obsessed with him. Investigating outside her jurisdiction and without authority in the Central Park Precinct, NYPD Detective Sergeant April Woo prompts a media frenzy and the rage of the whole department with a K-9 search that yields nothing. Nothing, that is, except the keen interest of Brandy and David, who think they can tease the cops, bluff the tracking dog, and get away with murder.





Henderson, Lauren
    Strawberry Tattoo, 1999.

Sam Jones, sculptress and reluctant sleuth, can't resist the opportunity to do Manhattan when she's invited to New York for a group show at a gallery featuring young British artists. New York, loud and brash as Sam herself, welcomes her with open arms and plenty of her favorite margaritas. She's even reunited with Kim, a best friend from childhood who's transformed herself into a quintessential New Yorker, complete with weekly spinning classes and an East Village studio apartment. Despite Sam's promise to stay out of trouble, however, trouble keeps finding her -- one of the gallery's employees is found strangled in Central Park's Strawberry Fields not long after Sam arrives, and the gallery itself has been trashed with graffiti. While Sam's new Manhattan friends pop Prozac and fret about the police investigation, the rest of the young Brits turn up in New York, including the one Sam drunkenly groped in a club not so long ago. Will the exhibition be a success? Will Sam's current boyfriend -- the dashing actor Hugo -- find out about her moment of abandon? And will the details of the strawberry tattoo give away the murderer's identity before Sam herself becomes a target?




Hunter, Evan
   The Moment She was Gone, 2002.

It's two o'clock in the morning when Andrew Gulliver gets a phone call from his mother, who tells him his twin sister, Annie, is gone. This is not the first time. Ever since she was sixteen, she's been taking off without notice to places as far distant as Papua New Guinea, then returning unexpectedly, only to disappear yet another time, again and again and again. But this time is different. Last month, Annie got into serious trouble in Sicily and was briefly held in a mental hospital, where an Italian doctor diagnosed her as schizophrenic. Andrew's divorced mother refuses to accept this diagnosis. Andrew himself just isn't sure. But during the course of a desperate twelve hours in New York City, he and the Gulliver family piece together the past and cope with the present in a journey of revelation and self-discovery. Recognizing the truth at last, Andrew can only hope to find his beloved sister before she harms herself or someone else.




Joyce, Brenda

    Deadly Desire, 2002.

New York City's Police Commissioner Rick Bragg has been called upon to investigate a shocking crime. Reluctant to pull Francesca into a case that could be very dangerous, Rick also knows the beautiful and brilliant heiress has a natural ability for sleuthing that could aid him-even if it means working side by side with a woman who tempts him like no other. And so Francesca and Rick begin a harrowing journey through the squalid underworld of the city that plunges them deeper and deeper into a peril neither could have imagined-and a desire that only continues to grow.



Koch, Ed

    Murder at City Hall, 1995.
Ed Koch, mayor of New York City, turns sleuth when the body of a hated tycoon suddenly appears in the Wedding Chapel of City Hall, and the mayor, his associates, and his friends all become suspects in the crime.





McDonell, J.M.

    Half Crazy, 1995.

Miranda, a beautiful blond from Arkansas, moves into a New York "garden" (a big city euphemism for basement) apartment with an unfinished dirt floor. It's like a bad joke: she has come to make it big as a fashion model. As she moves in with her dog, Pete, she meets upstairs neighbor David, who's gay and writes bad romance novels. She and David fast become good friends. What's more, within days Miranda lands a big fashion job, and within months her face is on the covers of major magazines. But, jealousy and trouble soon follow.




Misak, John

    Soft Case, 2001.

New York City homicide detective John Keegan wants nothing more than a dose of excitement. After nine years on the job and countless cases, his life has fallen into a series of routines. He no longer sees purpose in his job or his life, and with each day that passes, he tries to think of another way to break the monotony. It would take a miracle case to restore his faith and enthusiasm. A miracle case he wants, a disastrous one he receives. Excitement he gets in droves.





Quinonez, Ernesto

    Bodega Dreams, 2000.

The word is out in Spanish Harlem: Willie Bodega is king. Need college tuition for your daughter? Start-up funds for your fruit stand? Bodega can help. He gives everyone a leg up, in exchange for loyalty—and a steady income from the drugs he pushes.






Ragen, Naomi

    Chains Around the Grass, 2002.

Sara is barely six years old when her beloved father unexpectedly vanishes from her life. Her mother, Ruth, a dreamy and reluctant housewife, is now left with three small children to bring up, and the knowledge that she will somehow have to pick up the pieces, if she is to survive and fend for the family. But Sara takes up a vigil at the window of their dismal apartment, refusing to accept that her father won't be coming back.





Remnick, David
    Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker, 2000.

New York City is not only The New Yorker's place of origin and its sensibility's lifeblood; it is the heart of American literary culture. Wonderful Town collects superb short fiction by many of the magazine's and this country's most accomplished writers. Like all good fiction, these stories take particular places, particular people, and particular events and turn them into dramas of universal enlightenment and emotional impact. Here New York is every great place and every ordinary place. Each life in it, and each life in Wonderful Town, is the life of us all.





Sanders, Lawrence

    First Deadly Sin, 1973.

A well-dressed man stalks the high-class neighborhoods of New York City. He is armed with an ice ax. His victims are strangers. And one cop, Captain Ed Delaney, must solve a series of bizarre, gruesome murders that defy logic or method.






Shapiro, Anna

    Life & Love, Such As They Are, 1994.

The characters in this jaunt through contemporary relationships--both romantic liaisons and friendships--have lived themselves into corners where they are less than satisfied with themselves and their lives. Some of them are looking for reasons to live, some worry that the best of their lives are over, and others hide from themselves in self-destructive behavior. The interactions between these characters are both comical and tragic, and the reader is impelled to the end to find out how their affairs turn out.




Silber, Joan

    In My Other Life: Stories, 2000.

In My Other Life is grounded in New York, and each of these stories focuses on the Great Divide--the surprising reversal that separates an old life from the new. From the glories of bad habits in their twenties (you never knew what you would end up doing), the characters move though decades of sobering conclusions and elating accidents. The heroes of these stories are bartenders, painters, ex-drug dealers, birth control counselors, video store managers, people who have been around the proverbial block. The decisive turn can be the breezy agreement to a green-card marriage that lasts for twenty years, or a young mother's phone call home that sends her toddler away.






Smiley, Jane

    Duplicate Keys, 1984.

They were six friends from the Midwest who moved to New York City with high hopes of making it big in the music industry. Although the dream had faded, they had all remained friends--or so it seemed. One brilliant day, two of the group were shot in an apartment for which they all had duplicate keys. A riveting suspense story about the emotional aftermath of murder--the jealousy and hatred, the deception and rage, and the shocking secrets that lie between even the closest of friends.





Tanenbaum, Robert K.

    Irresistible Impulse, 1997.

Butch, the chief of the Manhattan District Attorney's Homicide Bureau, faces the toughest legal challenge of his career, facing off against one of the most brilliant defense lawyers in America in a murder trial laced with racial overtones. Meanwhile his private detective wife Marlene has her own hands full seeking a stalker who preys on the weak and vulnerable. Their relationship will be put to the test as the pressure of the two cases mount and collide into the hottest controversy New York City has ever seen!


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Compiled by Linda Bova and Denise Heid.

This page created and maintained by Denise Heid.
Last updated 02/06/2003 .