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Paddy Hirsch Books In Order

Publication Order of Lawless New York Books

The Devil's Half Mile (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hudson's Kill (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Paddy Hirsch is a British journalist, explainer and author of crime and historical fictional novels. He spent two decades working in the news before he got into fiction writing when he published “The Devil’s Half Mile” his debut that was published in both the UK and the US. The historical thriller is set in the tail end of eighteenth-century New York and the name of the title is a pseudonym for the financial district of Wall Street. As such, the novel has a lot to do with the themes of high finance, criminality and corruption. After the success of his novel among readers and critics alike, he followed it up with “Hudson’s Kill” set in the first decade of the 19th century. He used to work at Marketplace where he spent seven years hosting “The Marketplace Whiteboard,” a series of two-minute pithy online video explainers of financial terms. He won the Webby honoree for his Whiteboard series in 2009, the Edward R Murrow award in 2014 and a Stanford University Fellowship in 2010. He currently lives in Los Angeles and does most of his fiction writing during the weekends and at night. When he is not writing he loves to run, climb hills and surf.

Paddy was born in Weymouth, England but spent much of his childhood in Ireland. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent more than a decade in the Royal Marines and then lived in Belfast as he went to Campbell College. He then proceeded to the University of Warwick and got his degree in French and International Studies. Paddy’s got his first job in journalism when he got an internship in Glasgow, Scotland with the BBC. He then worked as a field producer in Hong Kong for CNBC and then moved to Bosnia to work for Open Broadcast Network as a consultant. He has also worked as an editor for the Vietnam Economic Times, Direct Capital Markets, Standard &Poor’s and Institutional Investor Newsletters. As an expert in economic, financial and business news his work is regularly featured in NPR, where he is also editor of The Indicator from Planet Money, an economics podcast. He published his first book “Man vs Markets” through Harper Business in 2012. The book is a tongue in cheek explanation of the working of the financial system for regular people who need to understand the complexities of the money markets.

Given his training as a journalist, Paddy’s novels have a high level of research. He tells comprehensive stories with great flow due to the constant drip of knowledge. He describes the Manhattan setting in rich detail, telling of the hard realities in the city during the last years of the eighteenth century and sunrise years of the nineteenth. He captures the smells, sights, and sounds of New York that was quite a dangerous place to live. It was an overcrowded city whose residents had to confront disease, gang warfare all in a highly tiered social economic system. Contrasting the shanty towns and slums of the poor against the lavish homes of the rich, he exposes the brutal pecking order that informs the social hierarchy. The stories draw in the poor, the rich, the bad and the good across the city as the lead character refuses to favor anyone as everyone regardless of stature has to answer to any wrongdoing they have done. As such, his interaction with the most eminent to the lowliest are just as charged, as all he cares for is justice and truth. Paddy also sprinkles underworld slang in the stories, some frequent and graphic violence all of which seems appropriate for the lawless nature of the period.

Paddy Hirst’s first novel “The Devil’s Half Mile” is set in New York in 1799. The lead is Justy, who is back in town after graduating from law school. He had been involved in a few Scottish skirmishes and now is in England since his father had committed suicide leaving him an orphan. He is now in the care of his uncle who is something of a gangster. Justy does everything to disassociate himself from his underworld connections and obligations. He intends to turn his life around and be an ethical and upstanding man like his father was. In fact, he believes his father would never commit suicide. Over the past few years, he has come to believe that someone must have killed his father and made it look like a suicide. As he starts investigating the bizarre suicide, he starts stepping onto the toes of important people who would love to bury the past and would not hesitate to kill if that is what it would take. It is a very visual and movie like novel that predated “The Alienist” though it is a lot similar to the classic. What the author does best in the story is to show the old New York with its very authentic lawlessness often associated with the Wild West given that the police force is yet to be invented.

“Hudson’s Kill” the second novel by Paddy Hirsch is set in 1803 New York City, where the Nativist, Irish, and Black gangs are fighting for turf in the fast-expanding city. It is a city where political conspiracy, cholera outbreaks, and treachery are the norm. In a filthy and dark alleyway where prostitutes sell their bodies, a young black girl is on the throes of death amid the decaying detritus and stench. She is discovered by Kerry O’Toole who sends for her ally and friend Justy Flanagan to come to unravel the murder mystery. Justy believes the girl could not have been older than 13 or 14 but no one knows her identity let alone come to claim the body. However, she is sure that she was not a prostitute since she was wearing clothes made of the finest material and her hands did not have the calluses of a common housemaid or slave. She is determined to solve the case and bring justice to the killer. She also needs to find out why nobody came forward to claim the slain girl. The investigation soon leads to a lavish compound in the suburbs in an exclusive community where Justy will undertake one of her most dangerous assignments yet.

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