Tabloid City is the latest iteration in Pete Hamill’s series of love letters to New York City. His books, which also include Snow in August, Forever, and North River, may not be tied together by time period, protagonist or genre, but they all share Hamill’s mastery at portraying the city where he was raised and has spent his whole life.
The book marks a return of sorts for Hamill: a return to the genre of suspense, which he wrote frequently at the beginning of his career, and a return to the city desk and the world of daily tabloids, which he knew so well as the editor of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Tabloid City’s principal figure is Sam Briscoe, the 71-year-old editor of The New York World, the city’s last remaining afternoon tabloid. In the early chapters of the book, Briscoe faces two great tragedies: the Internet’s supercession of print journalism, and the loss of his longtime friend and companion in the kind of grizzly murder that makes a perfect front page headline. These events connect a wide-ranging group of characters, from veteran and rookie staff members of The New York World, to a cop on the city’s Joint Terrorism Taskforce and his potentially terrorist son, to a young, wheelchair-bound veteran of the Iraq war and an aging artist passing his days at the Chelsea Hotel.
Hamill’s roving narration and the degrees of connection and separation between his characters make Tabloid City an engrossing and suspenseful read, full of nostalgia for the way New York once was, and rich in astute observations of the ways in which it is, as always, changing.
– Sheila Langan
(279 pages / Little, Brown and Co. /$26.99)