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Hell's Kitchen: A Novel of Berlin 1936 [Mass Market Paperback]

Jeffery Deaver
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2001 Location Scout Mysteries
The New York Times bestselling author of The Empty Chair and The Devil's Teardrop, is back displaying his "ticking-bomb suspense" (People) in this never-before-published thriller.
Every New York City neighborhood has a story, but what John Pellam uncovers in Hell's Kitchen has a darkness all its own. The Hollywood location scout and former stuntman is in the Big Apple hoping to capture the unvarnished memories of longtime Kitchen residents such as Ettie Washington in a no-budget documentary film. But when a suspicious fire ravages the elderly woman's crumbling tenement, Pellam realizes that someone might want the past to stay buried.
As more buildings and lives go up in flames, Pellam takes to the streets, seeking the twisted pyromaniac who sells services to the highest bidder. But Pellam is unaware that the fires are merely flickering preludes to the arsonist's ultimate masterpiece, a conflagration of nearly unimaginable proportion, with Hell's Kitchen -- and John Pellam -- at its blackened and searing epicenter.

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From Amazon

Perennial bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver's alter ego, William Jefferies, knows a thing or two about Hollywood. So does John Pellam, the hero of his previous Shallow Graves and Bloody River Blues and the latest in the series, Hell's Kitchen. Pellam made a name for himself as a director before a stint in San Quentin took him off the fast track. Since his release he's been earning his keep as a location scout and not so incidentally shooting a documentary about New York's Hell's Kitchen, which he hopes will propel him back into the career that skidded south after he ran afoul of the law.

Pellam has found the star of his new film, one Ettie Washington, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades and is the perfect voice to tell the story of an area that's losing its old-time seediness to urban gentrification. But then Ettie's tenement goes up in a blaze that kills a small boy and puts her right in the public eye--as a suspect. It's only the beginning of a series of fires, each one more deadly. The cops know Ettie couldn't have set the others, since she's been in jail, but they're convinced she knows who did. Pellam has his own reasons for getting Ettie off the hook and embarking on a search for the real pyromaniac. Jeffries saves the best one for the very end of this taut, well-paced, and highly atmospheric thriller. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Edgar Award-nominated Deaver (Bloody River Blues, etc.) exposes the brutal side of the Big Apple as John Pellam, a former Hollywood location scout, takes to the streets of Hell's Kitchen to film a documentary. Pellam is on his way to check on one of his interviewees, an elderly woman named Ettie, when he smells smoke and sees flames engulfing Ettie's tenement. Unfortunately, Pellam can't get near her fifth floor apartment, and she jumps out the window to land on a pile of trash bags. Pellam soon finds that Ettie is the prime suspect in the arson; she's kept in prison after another resident dies of injuries suffered in the fire. In an attempt to exonerate Ettie and uncover the true culprit who has been lighting fires around the city, Pellam ends up talking to some unnecessarily grouchy detectives, fire investigators and local thugs. Despite the ethnic mix of characters that populate this gritty mystery, readers may find that some of the details are overly gruesome (e.g., the arsonist's description of burning bodies) and Pellam's character is lacking in charisma. In addition, his extreme dedication to this one old woman merely because he's interviewed her seems less than plausible. (Feb.)Forecast: It's notable that this is an original Deaver novel, a fresh addition to a series that's been reprinted by Pocket and was written before the author became a near-household name with his Lincoln Rhyme novels. With Deaver's name on the cover, and with booksellers explaining to fans that it's a new item, the book should score big.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read his other books first July 12 2004
By Cat
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Pellam, former stuntman and location scout, is now taking some time off to work on a documentary about the New York City neighborhood called Hell's Kitchen. Located on the west side of Manhattan, it is a rather run down and rough neighborhood. The focus of his documentary is an elderly black woman, Ettie Washington, who has lived in Kitchen all of her life and has been telling Pellam numerous stories about life in that neighborhood.
When Pellam goes to visit Ettie one night, the building is set on fire where both he and Ettie barely manage to survive. After the investigation but the NYFD, the fire is ruled an arson and Ettie is immediately arrested as the one who hired the arson. Pellam is conviced of Ettie's innocence and seeks out to find the truth behind the fire. In the process, he captures the attention of the twisted arsonist who begins to focus his hate and passion on Pellam and wants to see him dead.
Honestly, I was not too thrilled with this book. It is my first book written by Deaver and he had gotten so many positive reviews that I figured I would give him a shot. The writing style wasn't too bad, but he seems to throw in twists and turns that make no sense and the progression of the story gets jagged at times. Also, I had a problem with the description of the Kitchen. He described the neighborhood to be this nasty hole in the wall that probably should be burnt to the ground. I worked near the Kitchen for four years and I will admit it isn't the nicest of neighborhoods, but it isn't nearly as bad as he described it. Especially since the city has taken a keen interest in rebuilding a lot of it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Will keep the reader up late at night March 9 2004
By Larry
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jeffrey Deaver is a bestselling author of detective thrillers. His most famous creation is Lincoln Rhyme the quadraplegic detective. He is highly acclaimed and very well established. Therefore, it is a bit of a surprise to find him nominated in the best paperback original category. This category usually consists of either authors just establishing themselves or those that cannot get a hardback contract for whatever reason. Jeffrey Deaver comes out with at least one bestseller a year. His work is, typically, a high octane thriller in which the action doesn't let up. This work is quite different from what he usually writes. In some ways it is superior.
John Pelham is a filmmaker who has decided to film a documentary on the residents of Hell's Kitchen, a tough neighborhood in Manhattan. He chooses Ettie Washington, an elderly black woman living in a tenement, as being his eyes and ears. He interviews her and invests hours of taping. AS he goes to interview her one last time, an explosive fire rages from the basement of the tenement. Both Pelham and Ettie barely escape with their lives. Ettie, incredibly, becomes a suspect on hiring a professional to set the fire for insurance purposes. However, it soon becomes apparent to both the police and Pelham that a serial pyromaniac is on the loose with the stakes going up with each successive fire.
Jeffrey Deaver has changed his writing style from his other books. This is a much more introspective work. The plot moves along at a much more lugubrious fashion. Characters are more well rounded than a typical Deaver novel. However, the style of writing remains superior and the plot is certainly compelling enough to keep the pages turning but not compelling enough to keep the reader turning the pages late at night in lieu of sleep. A solid nomination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but excellent April 10 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Pellam is a former stuntman and location scout filming an oral history of New York's Hell's Kitchen. While working on the documentary he meets Ettie Washington, a septuagenarian who lived in that New York City area for most of her life. They get together for several days a week where Pellam records Ettie's memories of life in Hell's Kitchen. One day on his way to see Ettie, John witnesses her building being engulfed by flames. Ettie manages to escape but gets arrested shortly thereafter on suspicion of arson and insurance fraud. The police have strong circumstantial evidence against Ms. Washington and they plan to indict her for the death of one of the building's tenants. Pellam is not convinced of her guilt and he will do everything in his power to prove her innocence.
During the course of his investigation he meets several characters that show life in Hell's Kitchen. Carol Wyandotte is a pessimistic social worker that does not have any hope for the youth living in that area. Roger McKennah is a real estate developer who wants to replace the tenements with new buildings. Sonny is a pyromaniac who is burning buildings all over Ettie's neighborhood for some mysterious motive that will be made clear later in the novel. There are other secondary characters that help bring the book to life, everything from Irish gangs to male prostitutes. Everyone has a story to tell and they make sure John hears all about it.
Jeffery Deaver (or William Jefferies) gives a bleak portrait of this infamous New York area. There is a sense of hopelessness and despair shown throughout the book. It has an interesting plot and it was just recently nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Mystery Novel. The author's work had certain twists and turns that surprised me as a reader. I strongly recommend this book but be warned, it is a downer. Hopefully the next book I read will lift my spirits.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich architectural mystery
The cover art doesn't do this book justice. Jeffery Deaver creates a rich archectural landscape for his mystery rather than putting it in some vague cliched archetypal buildings or... Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by Sarah Sammis
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Like the Rest
First let me say that I am a huge Jeffrey Deaver fan. He is definitely one of the top three in my eyes but this book left a lot to be desired. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2001 by Zane
4.0 out of 5 stars A roller coaster in flames....
The story begins when Ettie Washington, an old black lady is arrested and stands accused of hiring an arsonist to burn down the building where she lives, the neighborhood of Hell's... Read more
Published on April 9 2001 by Manuel Gwiazda
4.0 out of 5 stars A roller coaster in flames....
The story begins when Ettie Washington, an old black lady is arrested and stands accused of hiring an arsonist to burn down the building where she lives, the neighborhood of Hell's... Read more
Published on April 9 2001 by Manuel Gwiazda
3.0 out of 5 stars The Heat Is On
The amiable John Pellam is back in his third outing, this time filming an oral history of the Hell's Kitchen area of New York City. Read more
Published on March 27 2001 by sweetmolly
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read this was!
Combines the right mix of imagery, character building, ... everthing. Descriptions of arson fires is spooky. A great ending. Read more
Published on March 11 2001 by Kernel Mojo
4.0 out of 5 stars A roaringly flammable mystery!
Deaver, or in this case Jefferies, is a consistently good writer. His mysteries always give the benefit of the doubt to the reader assuming that we will be intelligent enough to... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2001 by K. L Sadler
4.0 out of 5 stars The Final Pellam Novel Is Great!
"Hell's Kitchen" is Jeffery Deaver's last novel in the John Pellam series. "Shallow Graves" and "Bloody River Blues" were the first two in the series. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2001 by Brad Stonecipher
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel read with an enigmatic character
For the last eight years, John Pellam has worked as a Production Scout for film companies. However, in the last three months John has rented an apartment in the east Village and is... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2001 by Harriet Klausner
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