Hudsons Kill (Paddy Hirsch)

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Gangs Of New York

Hirsch swiftly follows 2018’s excellent The Devil’s Half Mile with another Justy Flanagan adventure set in early nineteenth-century New York, a city still being thrown together around the action. Flanagan had to high tail it from his native Ireland after his involvement in the 1798 rumpus, picking up a few tricks of the marshalling trade from the French Police on his way to the baby Big Apple. It’s a tough locale for a law man, the rich are set against a proper police force and gangs and cut-throats rule the streets.

Justy’s pal, former pickpocket Kerry O’Toole (begorrah!), finds a dying girl in an alley and Flanagan begins an investigation despite the indifference engendered by the girl’s apparent Muslim origins. Haunted by her discovery, Kerry starts an investigation of her own. Just as in the first book, the nascent city is a character in and of itself - you can feel the dirt of the alley that the poor unfortunate girl meets her end in under your fingernails - as Flanagan’s inquiries take him towards the previously unnoticed Hudson’s Kill enclave, a Muslim community led by the enigmatic Umar Salam.

Meticulously researched and tight of plot with the same liberal helping of the colloquial slang of the period, Hirsch has created a character and a series that has the potential to run and run, and its fascinating setting calls out for celluloid too. Political machinations, criminal enterprise, a rogues gallery of unsavoury characters – it’s just the thing to fill those long days between new episodes of Peaky Blinders. Good man, Paddy.