Philip Cioffari,
The Bronx Kill
(Livingston Press, 2017)

The Bronx Kill is an unusual blend of a thriller plot with a literary fiction approach. While fast-paced upon occasion, mostly it circles around repeatedly with an almost hypnotic quality.

However, it is too literary for my taste. All that circling around the same situations, feelings, people, etc., gets tedious.

This was particularly obvious since the characters are not developed at all. This may well have been author Philip Cioffari's point; it is all about isolation, and navel-gazing with little real insight -- just excuses to stay in their ruts, which guaranteed they'd all be cardboard cutouts. And their solutions to isolation? Always, isolating MORE!

Despite all the circling throughout most of the novel, the climax happens fast -- so fast, it's hard to keep track of what's going on, where, why and to whom. The epiphany the vengeful cop has is frankly unbelievable, plus it never touches the issue of how corrupt he was besides his habit of hiring thugs to menace and/or murder people in a private matter.

All in all, this book is not recommended. The characters are shallow and depressing to the extent they are realized at all. The sudden flurry of the climax, and the lack of much resolution to that climax, is jarring compared to the repetitive nature of the rest of the narrative. Perhaps if one knows the area, the descriptions would be more evocative, but the text assumes a knowledge of that part of New York City that I certainly do not have. Perhaps this was all intentional ... but it did not make for an especially interesting read.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

17 June 2017

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