Editorial Review / Publisher's Information:
New York City's hot-wired East Village: From Avenue A to Avenue D, Alphabet City is a magnet for all-night revelers, actors, musicians, and artists. But it's also a lair for desperate hustlers, con men, and last-chance addicts.
Just part of the scene East of A.
Payton Sherwood knows that scene. He lives it daily. But Payton also lives by a creed derived from the white-knight heroes of Golden Age detective fiction. And like those renowned hardboiled private eyes, he is riddled with loss--the loss of an old love who still exists in daydreams, and the loss of a city he barely recognizes.
Payton returns to the Lower East Side after a short absence to find himself an outsider. When he takes a wrong turn on a side street, he stumbles into trouble in the form of three bull-necked heavies and a tough sixteen-year-old runaway named Gloria Manlow. After taking a savage beating, Payton is robbed of his Rolex watch and left bleeding on the sidewalk.
For Payton, trying to retrieve his three-thousand-dollar wristwatch has its perils. So does tracking Gloria, whose trail zigzags from a stray dog to a psycho boyfriend to an ice-hearted killer.
Following clues both hot and cold, Payton winds his way through Alphabet City--in and out of trendy after-hour dives, across barrio tenements and vacant lots where the homeless camp, and finally on a descent into a nightclub in a defunct church: the Hellhole. Here, the shadows that frighten aren't those that shade the street, but rather the soul. Payton's dusk-to-dawn nightmare on the wild side is about to begin--and nothing will stop it but death.
There may be millions of stories in the Naked City, but few are as riveting as the one Russell Atwood tells. A black-lit, neo-noir urban thriller, East of A is a bloody valentine to classic detective fiction--and an original hard-drive narrative so seductive and compelling it takes the reader hostage and never lets go.
Urban streets don't get much meaner than in the alphabet-street stew of New York City's Lower East Side. But that's where private eye Payton Sherwood plies his trade, a clean-living moralist in a world of drugged-out freakazoids.
Coming home late to an empty refrigerator after a court appearance in Syracuse, the slyly self-mocking Payton ("still in my dark blue suit, narrow maroon tie, and shiny black shoes") decides to pop downstairs to his favorite all-night deli for a jug of milk and a box of Cheerios. But the store has gone out of business during his nine-day absence; he's forced to wander farther east for his needs and winds up having the stuffing kicked out of him when he stops to defend a street girl from attack by a trio of bozos. Worse yet, the girl comes back to steal his Rolex! Highly motivated and mightily pissed, Sherwood goes after the girl and ends up in a former church, now a nightclub called the Hellhole. The real fun of Russell Atwood's first (but obviously not last) mystery is watching him ring all the changes he can on the traditional noir icons without leaning on the crutches of camp or disrespect. --Dick Adler