Tabloid City Review
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Author Pete Hamill writes in an unusual style that, unfortunately, doesn’t appeal to me. He tends to break a lot of grammatical rules—especially by leaving out the punctuation in his dialogue. At best, I find it distracting. At worst, however, it pulls me completely out of the story.

His latest novel, Tabloid City, follows the paths of several different characters. Sam Briscoe is the aging editor-in-chief of a New York newspaper, chasing the story of a rich socialite and her secretary, who were murdered in the socialite’s townhouse.

Then we have Josh Thompson, a wheelchair-bound Iraq War veteran. With vengeance in his heart, he’s out to exact justice for what happened to him while he was at war.

The next big player on New York’s stage is Malik Shahid, a.k.a. Malik Watson, a dangerous young Muslim who slowly works toward fanaticism, eventually declaring jihad on New York City. His father, Ali Watson, is a police sergeant who fears the worst from his twenty-three-year-old son. Right now, though, Ali’s main concern is for his wife, Mary Lou, who didn’t come home after work.

Other characters pepper Tabloid City, painting a diverse human portrait of New York City—yet each character is connected to each other in some way. At the center of it all, Sam Briscoe seeks to put it all together for one spectacular story.

Tabloid City has too many characters, making the plot a confusing mixture of stories without giving readers the chance to care about any of them. I found Sam Briscoe only mildly interesting, and I came closest to caring about Ali Watson’s plight. Josh Thompson’s story, meanwhile, was the most interesting—even though I hate it when writers place soldiers in a bad light.

Written in present tense—with more than a little telling instead of showing—Tabloid City meanders from one character to the next with what seems to be no real purpose. In fact, you’ll really have to pay attention in order to figure out what’s going on. Then, if you haven’t already pulled out your hair and thrown the book down in disgust, you’ll find that it starts to make sense toward the end. But you’ll have to really hang in there for this one, folks.

With its artsy dialogue and grammar and its equally artsy characters, Tabloid City will appeal to the literary minded. As for me, I think I’ll stick with something a little more entertaining—like cars blowing up and bullets flying everywhere—and leave Pete Hamill on the shelf.

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