by Bruce TierneyJuly, 2005
Mystery of the month
This month, the Tip of the Ice Pick Award goes to Reggie Nadelson for her starkly realistic Disturbed Earth, a novel of post-9/11 New York. Russian-born NYPD Detective Artie Cohen has been assigned a thorny and troubling case: the investigation of a pile of blood-soaked children's clothing purportedly found by a Russian immigrant on a Brooklyn beach. The difficult possibility that Artie must face is that the clothing belongs to his godson, Billy, supposedly away for the weekend in upstate New York. The thing is, nobody can reach Billy, nobody saw him leave, and the family he is supposed to be with disavows all knowledge of his whereabouts. Nadelson captures the cityscape of New York with all its glitter and warts, from the wealthy West Side to the immigrant enclaves of Bensonhurst and Brighton Beach. Particularly effective are the interactions between Cohen and the other Russian immigrants, both friend and foe (and believe me, it is not easy to determine just who is who). The suspense is unrelenting, and the denouement surprising, to say the least. Disturbed Earth is the fifth Artie Cohen novel. If there is any justice, Disturbed Earth will attract the same level of critical and popular acclaim as Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, Michael Connelly's Blood Work or George Pelecanos' Drama City.