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The Letter Writer

A Novel

Dan Fesperman


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Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (5/31/2016)
MP3 CD (5/31/2016)
Hardcover (4/19/2016)
Hardcover, Large Print (8/17/2016)



February 9, 1942. Disgraced Southern cop Woodrow Cain arrives in New York City for a new position with the NYPD and is greeted with smoke billowing out from the SS Normandie, engulfed in flames on the Hudson. On Cain’s first day on the job, a body turns up in the same river. Unfamiliar with the milieu of mob bosses and crooked officials in the big city, Cain’s investigation stalls, until a strange man who calls himself Danziger enters his life. Danziger looks like a miscreant, but speaks five languages, has the manners of a gentleman, and is the one person who can help Cain identify the body. A letter writer for illiterate European immigrants, Danzinger has a seemingly boundless knowledge of the city’s denizens and networks—and possesses information that extends beyond the reach of his clients, hinting at an unfathomable past. As the body count grows, Cain and Danziger inch closer toward an underground web of possibly traitorous corruption . . . but in these murky depths, not even Danzinger can know what kind of danger will await them.

Praise For The Letter Writer: A Novel

Praise for Dan Fesperman’s The Letter Writer

“A penetrating portrait. . . . Saturated with color and humming with life.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Gritty, nostalgic.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A cracking good yarn.” —The News & Observer (Raleigh)

“Stunning. . . . Danger, intrigue, politics, and spies are all masterfully woven for the reader’s entertainment. . . . Addictive, fast-paced, and thrilling.” —San Francisco Book Review
“Makes New York come alive with conspiracy and mystery. . . . [Fesperman] has created a character who will stay with you long after the last shot is fired.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The WWII alliance between the Mafia and the U.S. government has been explored in crime fiction before . . . but never in such compelling fashion as Fesperman does here. . . . What makes this novel shine is the way Fesperman combines it with the mobsters-as-patriots angle and with the rich character of the letter writer. A multifaceted mix of mystery and historical fiction.” —Booklist

“Intelligent . . . Fesperman shows a skilled hand at creating the detail of wartime New York. . . . The likable and well-drawn [protagonist] will go over well with readers, especially those fond of historicals.” —Publishers Weekly

The Letter Writer is a unique blend of a scholarly sleuth teamed with a Sherlock Holmes-like chameleon in a time of history ripe for building stories of suspense around. . . . The combination is pure chemistry, and pure entertainment.” —Bookreporter

“The brilliant Dan Fesperman takes us into a world of intrigue. . . . Don’t miss this one—it’s sure to be on my list of the year’s best books.” —Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 9781101873991, 384pp.

Publication Date: March 21, 2017

About the Author

DAN FESPERMAN’s travels as a journalist and novelist have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Association of Crime Writers. He lives in Baltimore.