"Roscoe Owens Conway presided at Albany Democratic Party headquarters, on the eleventh floor of the State Bank building, the main stop for Democrats on the way to heaven." Thus begins Kennedy's first novel in five years, the seventh installment in his Albany cycle, which includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ironweed. He continues to display the insider's confident mastery of fact, the sharp-edged irony that contrasts appearance and reality and the vision of the outcomes to which his characters are fated. Roscoe is fixer for Albany, N.Y., and on V-J Day, 1945, the Democratic machine is under threat. The external enemy is New York's Republican governor, gathering evidence of the widespread corruption gambling, prostitution, violence that hallmarks Democratic leader Patsy McCall's rule. The mysterious suicide of Elisha Fitzgibbon, the machine's moneyman, sets the events in motion. Internally, the machine is strife ridden: Roscoe must patch up the hostility between McCall and his brother over a cockfight; he must deal with the conflict between police lieutenant and McCall gunsel Jeremiah "Mac" McEvoy and Roscoe's brother, O.B., the chief of police; and he must secure the mayoral re-election of Alex, Elisha's son. Meanwhile, Roscoe seems near a lifelong goal: marrying Veronica, Elisha's widow. As in all of Kennedy's Albany novels, the town is rendered with a hallucinatory, three-dimensional density. The seams of the past from politics to business to crime are split open, but Roscoe's job is to keep Albany's secret history secret. A good man at heart, he is corrupted by his means (blackmail, lies and faked testimony) until his dearest goals are thwarted. This is an engrossing, comic vision of the dark side of politics as the "art of the possible." Readers who were disappointed by the thinness of The Flaming Corsage, the Albany novel that preceded this one, will rejoice at the arrival of the full-blooded Roscoe. 10-city author tour. (Jan. 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal, 11/01/2001
Roscoe Owen Conway is the ROC upon which Albany's Democratic Party is built. Roscoe is a combination of contrasts: a lawyer with no practice, a brewery owner who drinks gin, and a politician who holds no office. And he is a man with a broken heart, both literally (there's clotted blood in his ticker) and figuratively (he's desperately pining away for his best friend's wife). Roscoe will do anything and everything legal or not for the party, but for him the party is over. Kennedy's seventh novel is a sprawling political romp covering the roughly 12 weeks between V-J Day through Election Day, 1945, with flashbacks and asides detailing two decades of enough political corruption, crooked cops, cockfights, whores, gambling, and bootleggers to fill Sing Sing twice! Kennedy writes with great humor and marvelous attention to detail both in language and setting, and the book functions as a political expos? as well as a romance and to an extent a mystery, which leaves the reader guessing. But principally it is about a man who has made a career out of trading in lies and deceit but who nonetheless still can clearly discern the truth about himself. With Roscoe, Kennedy proves again that the American literary novel is not dead, it's just moved to Albany. Highly recommended. Michael Rogers, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews, 10/15/2001
"She named me after a housekeeper? Why? / Same reason she threw hard-boiled eggs at her poodle." If that sublimely loony exchange appeals to you, you're going to like this seventh installment in Kennedy's ongoing Albany Cycle (whose crown jewel is the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ironweed, 1983). The quotation refers to an embittered matron who's suing for custody of the illegitimate son she gave away when he was an infant. This situation seems quite reasonable in a busy anecdotal melodrama that's set in and around Albany in 1945,…