The Letter Writer: Book summary and reviews of The Letter Writer by Dan Fesperman

The Letter Writer

by Dan Fesperman

The Letter Writer by Dan Fesperman X
The Letter Writer by Dan Fesperman
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2016
    384 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

February 1942: Provincial policeman Woodrow Cain begins his new job with the NYPD, where he quickly discovers his first case is more complicated than it would appear...

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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Kirkus

"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." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Dan Fesperman Author Biography

Dan Fesperman grew up in North Carolina and has reported for the Fayetteville, Durham Morning Herald, Charlotte News, Miami Herald and The Baltimore Sun, and worked in its Berlin bureau during the years of civil war in the former Yugoslavia, as well as in Afghanistan during the recent conflict. His travels as a writer have taken him to 30 nations and three war zones.

Fesperman's first novel, Lie in the Dark, won the Crime Writers Association of Britain's John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, and The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife and children.

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