Praise for The Gin Palace Trilogy:
"The Poisoned Rose was a stunning and wondrous debut, and The Bone Orchard only confirmed Daniel Judson’s artistry and unique style, but those two dark gems do not prepare the reader for the huge leap forward that is The Gin Palace. The final outing of Declan “Mac” MacManus, one of our most compelling PIs, shows an author at the very height of his dizzying power. Fresh, vibrant, startling, and beautifully rendered, Judson’s The Gin Palace Trilogy breathes a whole new energy into the genre." -- Ken Bruen
Praise for Voyeur:
Voyeur is Number One on Bookreporter.com's Top Ten of 2010 List!
"A suspense masterpiece."
"Judson hits you with a 25,000-volt stun gun in chapter one and doesn't let up until the satisfying end."
---Alafair Burke, author of 212
"A dark, deft, little noir."
--Mystery Scene Magazine
"Judson is a thoroughly accomplished writer."
"Darkness. Cold. Bitter wind. These are the backdrops--they're almost characters--in this grim tale of betrayal, revenge, and pain. There's no humor in Judson's bleak story, no stylistic turns. Just a relentless account of one fellow's attempt to stay alive when everything, including the elements, turns against him. Remer---the only name we have---is a keyhole-peeping PI in Manhattan when someone he's spied on tortures him so brutally he is put out of business. We rejoin him as a liquor-store owner in Southampton, hiding in darkness. The fates aren't done with him. Remer is asked to solve a missing-persons case, but he does it too well. A pounding or two later he realizes that he was meant to be part of the crime, not its solution. The bad guys are put out of business, finally, but Remer isn't consoled: he's lost too much. The only surcease from pain comes in a personal relationship with a warm girl who lives upstairs. Noir fans will find this novel a bracing jolt of icy air."
"While this gritty stand-alone crime novel from Shamus-winner Judson (The Violet Hour) may offer nothing new, it covers familiar terrain well. In 2003, while on surveillance in Manhattan's meatpacking district, PI Remer was dragged from his van and an unknown Frenchman burned the word voyeur into his chest. Almost six years later, an old friend of Remer's, police detective Kay Barton, asks him to find a missing young woman, Mia Ferrara, for Mia's mother, Evelyn. Earlier, Barton had persuaded Remer, who now runs a liquor store in Southampton, Long Island, to hire Mia for his store, despite her lack of experience. Though Mia subsequently ripped him off for 80 grand, he agrees to meet Evelyn, who turns out to be more concerned with her own safety than her daughter's. Evelyn is sure Mia's disappearance is just the first step in a scheme to kill her. The author's lean but effective prose is a good match for his subject matter."
"In the preface of Shamus Award winner Judson's taut new noir, Voyeur (2010), hot-shot Manhattan P.I. REMER is an ex-Marine turned big city dick with a good rep and a clear conscience, living large off the proceeds of other people's marital transgressions. Then what seems like a routine case takes a very bad bounce, and Remer is left mentally shattered and physically mutilated.
Six years later, we meet him again. He's traded in his past for the quiet half-life of running a small liquor store in the sleepy resort town of Southampton on Long Island, retreating nightly to his tiny apartment to self-medicate himself with a dose of his special herbal "blend" -- a potent brew that combines ìskullcap, lavender, passionflower vine, larch and wormwood, the hallucinatory ingredient in absinthe.
But what kind of noir would this be (and make no mistake, kiddies -- this is noir) if the past stayed where we put it? Mia Ferrera, a troubled former lover (and ex-employee), has gone missing, and her wealthy mother wants Remer to track her down. Reluctantly, Remer agrees, still haunted by unresolved issues between Mia and himself, and urged on by a local police officer friend and her private investigator boyfriend --only to discover that much of what he thought he knew about his ex is wrong.
Noir fans may be reminded, as I was, of The Dark Corner, the 1946 B-flick where another fallen private eye who should have known better gets suckered in all over again. In fact, there's much here -- despite the thoroughly modern trappings of cellphones, computers and GPS monitoring devices -- to recall those classics noirs. Our toys may change, Judson seems to suggest, but human treachery, greed and violence remain constant. As do questions of how much we can ever really know anyone -- even or perhaps especially those we love.
Unsure of whom he can trust, a battered and drugged Remer ("pain behind his eye and... ringing in his ears") finds himself on the run, backed into a dark corner of his own. It's all handled deftly and with admirable restraint, making this dark little story all the more potent and memorable, and the chill of the final scenes, set against the finely painted backdrop of the cold, desolate off-season limbo of a resort town, will linger long after the final page is read. Pay attention, kids. This is how it's done."
"Shamus Award-winning author Daniel Judson weaves a noir fabric that covers Long Island's upscale Hamptons, but some of that fabric is soiled with seedy characters. As a Manhattan private eye in 2003, Remer had to "peek through windows like a voyeur, hide in shadows." At least until the PI was caught and then "persuaded" to exit the business. It's amazing what a little --- make that much --- torture can do for a career change.
Fast forward to late '08. Remer now owns a liquor store in Southampton. At age 42, he has secrets, but it "isn't in his nature to give up his secrets." One of those is a special tattoo removed from his chest and new lust, if not love, Angela. "Her last name is Syc, pronounced sigh, as in, she likes to say, 'to breathe out softly.'" However, "Remer's affairs simply don't [last]." With Christmas at hand and equal-age Angela out of nursing school, why does he not stay with her for the holiday in Manhattan instead of her weekend overnights with him in Southampton?
Off-again, on-again cop and former Remer employee Kay Barton is now romantically involved with Tommy Miller, who "had been a private investigator for a number of years before retiring suddenly at the ripe old age of thirty." But was there romance between Barton and Remer? "It was Barton who suggested that Remer hire Mia [Ferrara] despite her lack of experience. A thirty-year-old woman who had never held a job in her life." Mia has now gone missing, and Barton persuades Remer to take on this special case, hooking up Remer with Mia's mega-wealthy mom, Evelyn. Remer is not sure if Evelyn is fully aware of his affair with Mia --- and the pain she caused. Is his motive for locating Mia an eye-popping annual-salary fee, or to rekindle the romance? With many bestselling crime novels, there is a money trail, and Remer follows this one like a bloodhound.
Avoiding Manhattan because of what happened there in '03, Remer is drawn back after two days of unconsciousness caused by a truncheon. Six stitches as a Christmas gift. Exposed to dubious characters in New York's Long Island villages called the Hamptons, Remer realizes that lie is the central part of believe, what he's asked to do by everyone he comes across. Curiously, each tale contradicts the last. The only thing Remer can believe is his own gut feelings.
Each seemingly innocent lead becomes a string connected to a complex web that increasingly looks as though it's being woven into a noose. Even a mildly hallucinogenic herbal blend can't ease Remer's misgivings about trying to locate Mia. When he does so, it's with a scene that made me think the author had imbibed Remer's "special" Long Island Iced Tea.
Third-person present tense puts readers in the midst of thrilling action. This noir suspense masterpiece is "as dark as a Bible," reading as easily as watching a blockbuster movie with a totally believable script. An astoundingly complex read made simple by explaining psychological motivations of key characters, VOYEUR will be one of my Top Ten For '10 picks."
--- Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy
Praise for The Violet Hour:
"Shamus winner Judson once again successfully mines Long Island's South Fork for glittering noir nuggets."
"Set around Halloween, this well-written and compelling noir will appeal to fans of J. A. Jance, Martha Powers, and Peter Abrahams."
"In the cutthroat game of Survivalist Poker, Cal can wheel and deal with the worst of them."
"It has not taken long for Daniel Judson to shoulder his way onto my list of must-read authors. His novels, of which THE VIOLET HOUR is the fifth, are set in the Hamptons, an area of New York's Long Island. The term conjures up the image of a high-end playground and seasonal resort for the rich and famous, a place where a different set of rules applies. Indeed, Judson's books are populated with shadowy figures who are above the law and a sharply defined underclass caught within machinations above and beyond their control, causing forces to collide. And there are collisions aplenty in THE VIOLET HOUR as it is played out over three significant days and evenings as October gives way to November on the rural backroads of Bridgehampton Village.
The unlikely protagonist is a 22-year-old auto mechanic named Caleb Rakowski, the sole survivor of a family of minor league criminals. Rakowski, trying not to follow in the footsteps of his late --- and notorious --- father and brother, has been spending his days working at an anonymous auto repair and body shop run by his high-rolling friend, Eric Carver, his nights living in an off-the-books apartment above the shop, and his weekends on an occasional drinking and wenching expedition with his co-worker, Lebell. However, things start to change when Rakowski provides shelter to his friend Heather, who is pregnant and on the run from her powerful and extremely abusive husband.
Meanwhile, Lebell's past begins to catch up with him in the form of an incredibly dangerous and deadly woman named Evangeline Amendora. Schooled in the arts of torture and murder, Amendora is the single-minded tool of an organized crime figure who has been tracking Lebell with revenge on his mind. Rakowski finds himself unexpectedly caught between Lebell and Amendora, even as Heather's half-sister Amanda reappears. Amanda has taken several wrong turns, but her sudden reentrance into Heather's life is no accident as Rakowski discovers when he goes to a high-end Halloween party to retrieve her.
As a result of his loyalty to his friends, Rakowski soon finds that he is caught between not one but two major conflicts, both of which threaten to destroy the quiet, below-the-radar existence he has fashioned for himself. Outclassed in every way imaginable, his few assets include an uncanny ability to visualize the manner in which things fit together --- mechanically and otherwise --- and the streetwise advice of his deceased father, which is valuable on both sides of the law. In the short course of a few days, a major bloodbath will be set loose in the Hamptons, and Rakowski will be in the middle of it as a group of powerful figures discovers the danger of pushing a good man too far.
While familiar themes weave into and through all of Judson's novels, he has continued to find and present new ways of exploring them so that surprises abound from page to page. This is especially true in THE VIOLET HOUR, which features a number of plot and character twists, both major and minor, that leave the reader unsettled and uncertain of preconceptions formed during the course of the book. And if that is not enough for you, included is an ending that is as haunting as anything you will read this year. Judson, already critically acclaimed, may well find the commercial success he deserves with THE VIOLET HOUR."
Praise for The Water's Edge:
"Daniel Judson is so much more than a crime-fiction novelist. He's a tattooed poet, a mad philosopher of the Apocalypse fascinated with exploring the darkest places in people's souls."
"At the start of this intense crime novel from Shamus-winner Judson (The Darkest Place), the brutal murder of two drug couriers on a Southampton, N.Y., bridge unleashes old demons for ex-boxer Jake Bechet, a former enforcer for the ruthless South American Castello family, and reclusive PI Tommy Miller, the son of a corrupt police chief. The organizations each one worked for coerce Bechet and Miller into locating the killers who threaten the lucrative status quo. The Castello family thrusts Bechet back into the life he left with implicit threats to the woman he loves. Miller faces similar pressure from the police chief who replaced his father. The two men race to extricate themselves and their loves from a situation which easily confuses allies, friends and enemies, and violence is the coin of the realm. Cold, rainy, foggy weather lends atmosphere to a gripping thriller perfect for a stormy night's entertainment."
"Former professional boxer Jake Bechet lives modestly and quietly in the glitzy Long Island beach resort of Southampton with Gabrielle. Former PI and knight errant Tommy Miller lives there, too. His lifestyle is almost reclusive. Both men conduct themselves with the furtiveness of clandestine agents in enemy territory. But when two men are executed mob-style, Bechet's and Miller's tormented pasts surface, and each is compelled to investigate the murders. Their lives, and the lives of the people they love, depend on their success, and the body count soon rises. The Water's Edge has a lot to offer crime fans: a richly cinematic portratit of a posh resort in late winter, lashed by rains and socked in by fog; complicated protagonists; really evil mobsters; possibly corrupt cops; and a labyrinthine plot that unwinds in just 24 hours...The sense of place and the troubled protagonists will keep readers entertained."
"Though set in the Hamptons, THE WATER'S EDGE has a Jersey-noir sense to it. Taking place over a 24-hour period, with the balance occurring in the dead of night, the sun --- even in daylight --- never shines here.
The book opens with a struggling restaurateur, in the midst of a late-night refurbishing project, witnessing a gruesome double-murder on a nearby bridge. Others, one by one, are brought into the mix, including (but by no means limited to) Jake Bechet, an ex-boxer, now part owner of a cab company; Bobby Falchetti, Bechet's friend and employee, whose moral weaknesses have the potential to bring down not only himself but also those around him; and Tommy Miller, a retired private investigator turned reclusive landlord, who is haunted by the memory of the lover who abruptly left him years before.
It is the manner in which master chef Daniel Judson mixes his characters into this hard-boiled roux that makes THE WATER'S EDGE such a compelling, addicting read. If we are separated by only six degrees from everyone else, that distance is halved in Judson's Southampton. The victims of the murder are in the employ of Jorge Castello, a shady, seemingly omnipotent figure who has his fingers in pies both legal and illicit and is the reluctant former employer of Bechet.
Castello draws Bechet back into his orbit with a quietly roiling combination of threats and promises, for the purposes of determining who committed the murders and recovering some unnamed merchandise that Castello considers his own. He is certain that there is a traitor within his organization who is responsible for both the murders and the misappropriation of his goods; he figures, quite cannily, that the only way to get to the bottom of it is to go outside of his sphere of influence to Bechet, the one man who was able to walk away from him and make it stick.
Miller, meanwhile, is recruited by Southampton's chief of police to conduct his own investigation into the killings, as a pragmatic move: there are things he can do and places he can go that the police cannot. Both men are given 24 hours to get results. Their investigations take them to places in their past that they would rather not go: Bechet to his --- and his father's --- prior work for Castello, and Miller to his former love, who it seems was involved, in more ways than one, with one of the murder victims. Even as Miller's and Bechet's investigations each draw them slowly to the other, however, there are connections between them of which only one is aware and that must remain so if their lives, and those for whom they care, are to survive the day.
THE WATER'S EDGE is infused with dark, brilliant writing that focuses the mind and addicts the brain with its characterization and plotting. It is one of those novels that is so difficult to do well: take a number of individuals running around in a relatively small area, each with different pieces of the puzzle that the others need, and put a couple of them at crosscurrents with each other, until only the toughest and smartest is the one left standing. There are others who approach and match this level of East Coast noir --- Peter Blauner, Jason Starr, Wallace Stroby --- each of whom strikes a nerve and plays it like a finely tuned string. Judson, with THE WATER'S EDGE, cements his already secure place in the genre."
Praise for The Darkest Place:
"A searing, brooding look at the bleak side of the Hamptons . . . an intense novel."
---South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Action packed. Loss and redemption rule in Shamus Award--winning Daniel Judson's third novel, set in Southampton nights so cold that they could cool off a reader sizzling in this summer's heat. It's noir on ice."
"Deacon Kane has been in a downward spiral since the accidental drowning of his son several years ago. He's hitting the bottle, having an affair with a married woman, and barely hanging on to his job as a Long Island writing teacher. Then one of his students, Larry Foster, turns up dead, and the police consider him a "person of interest" because he can't account for some critical time periods. Meanwhile, PI Reggie Clay, trying to prove Foster's death wasn't a suicide and knowing that other teenage boys have died in a similar manner, enlists Kane's help in looking for a serial killer. When it becomes clear to Kane that he may have been set up, he doesn't know whom to trust, and Clay and his colleagues begin to believe Kane just might be the killer after all. Told from multiple points of view, populated with well-drawn moral and amoral characters, and permeated with violence, this riveting albeit bleak crime novel offers a strong sense of place along with thoughtful rumination about doing the right thing and finding redemption for past actions."
"Judson does a terrific job of setting up a complex plot that's full of surprises."
Praise for The Bone Orchard:
"A vivid cast of characters and a frightening plot packed with dead bodies combine to make Judson's atmospheric debut thriller one of the year's more memorable reads. The narrator, part-time PI Declan "Mac" MacManus, is a dirt-poor, disheveled young man living in a Spartan apartment above a bar in Southampton. After witnessing a vehicle plunge into a sinkhole pond in a bizarre single-car accident, Mac is thrown into the center of a smalltown murder conspiracy that will affect him more than he could ever imagine. With the help of his two best friends, a former DEA and a Jamaican taxi driver, Mac struggles to bring down a corrupt PI who has the police chief and a number of other town officials in his pocket. Judson's plot is packed with intrigue, and his telling of the story--most of which takes place during the hours between dusk and dawn--is brilliant. Using sparse language to create lush, cinematic images, Judson transforms his colorful yet generally unlikable characters into empathetic creatures. What's more, the story unfolds slowly and beautifully, revealing critical character details only when the plot demands them. A dark tapestry of life gone mad in a trendy Hamptons summer town, this promising debut is ripe for a big-screen adaptation."
Praise for The Poisoned Rose:
"This taut thriller is far from predictable, and its dark and mysterious plot suits Judson's understated writing style."