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Old City Hall Paperback – Mar 6 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Canadian Export edition (March 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451673493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451673494
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #103,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

For years, Robert Rotenberg has been one of Canada’s foremost criminal defence lawyers. Now, taking a page from his older brother David (author of the Zhong Fong mystery novels and the historical epic Shanghai), he applies his courtroom knowledge to a clever debut that modifies the legal thriller template into a larger study of the vagaries of human behaviour. When Gurdial Singh arrives at radio host Kevin Brace’s house to deliver the morning newspaper, he finds the man in hysterics, covered in blood and shouting that he has killed his wife in the bathtub. What appears at first to be an open-and-shut case proves far more complex, however. Rotenberg’s writing style is understated and fluid, enhanced but not overwhelmed by his insider knowledge of Toronto’s criminal courts and the streets surrounding “the Hall.” He also takes care to show off the city’s charms and frustrations, whether describing Front Street’s “comfortable, almost European feel” or the traffic-clogged “Don Valley Parking Lot.” What is most evident in Old City Hall is the breathing room Rotenberg gives his story. The twists and turns unfold briskly, but the author allows sufficient time to develop his cast of characters in three dimensions, rather than simply giving them a series of quirks. The generosity also augers well for future novels – with the burden of proof solely on Rotenberg to turn his initial promise into a lasting second career as a crime writer.

Review

Breathtaking ... and all the more so because this is the author's first novel. A tightly woven spiderweb of plot and a rich cast of characters make this a truly gripping read. And of particular interest is the setting: Robert Rotenberg does for Toronto what Ian Rankin does for Edinburgh. Jeffery Deaver An amazing debut novel. Robert Rotenberg's Old City Hall has everything a legal thriller should have, and more: absolutely engaging characters, a tight, taut, and believable plot, a heart-quickening pace, and, best of all, some of the finest writing I've read in years. This one has winner written all over it. Nelson DeMille Robert Rotenberg's Old City Hall is one of the best books I've read in ten years. I devoured it in two sittings. Rotenberg is a criminal defense attorney, defending lowlifes and celebrities alike in Toronto, and he really knows his clients. His characters are stunningly good. They're real people. His Toronto settings make this most multicultural city in North America come alive. He writes with assurance and panache. He has a series of characters who may well become a classic. He even has a sense of humor. This is one of those novels where you only need to read the first chapter to be swept away. If Old City Hall doesn't win an Edgar, I'll trade in my pen for a fishing rod... Douglas Preston 'Clever, complex and filled with an engaging cast of characters ... ' Kathy Reichs 'There is nothing in Old City Hall to suggest that it's Robert Rotenberg's debut. The middle-aged Canadian criminal lawyer has got it all -- pace, good characters, tension and an intriguing plot ... The resolution is clever and surprising.' Marcel Berlins, The Times 'Written by a real-life Canadian defence lawyer, this sweeping debut, with a vast, colourful cast, focuses on the apparent murder of his wife by talkshow host Kevin Brace. Then suddenly, he stops talking ...' Henry Sutton, Daily Mirror 'Apart from evoking the seasonal rhythms of life in the city, the novel offers a convincing portrayal of backstage operations in the justice system ... Old City Hall is an enjoyable addition to the literature of urban crime.' H.J. Jackson, TLS 'Each character is lifelike and credible; the scenes are exciting as the murder investigation zigzags slowly forward; and the Canadian setting is very well described. In crime fiction's minute sub-categories this is a legal thriller, but there is much more to the story than law and clues -- a skilful, tasty concoction.' Jessica Mann, Literary Review 'Another debut novel, this is tremendously readable and well-plotted, providing a mystery which intrigues almost to the last chapter' Morning Star 'Highly-tipped in the awards stakes this year is Canadian Robert Rotenberg's Old City Hall. Part legal-thriller, part murder investigation, Rotenberg (himself a lawyer) really gets under the skin of that fine city of Toronto' Shots 'Old City Hall is proof that Robert Rotenberg is one of the most striking writers on the current crime scene' Crime Time 'The atmospherics, and especially Rotenberg's affection for the city of Toronto and involutions of law, make this a fast-paced, appealing addition to genre' Kirkus Reviews 'A roller coaster of a legal thriller that's got it all -- an outstanding and fast-paced plot, well-developed characters with depth and personality, great dialog, plenty of courtroom and investigative drama, and an explosively satisfying conclusion.' Library Journal starred review 'Rotenberg creates a legal thriller that recreates the growing tension of a major murder investigation incorporated by a wonderful cast of characters' Greenock Telegraph 'As a mix of both detective work and legal thriller, as both a puzzle and a study of characters, Old City Hall delivers ... it's certainly the best first novel I've read since Child 44, and that's high praise' Crime Time & Irresistible Targets blog 'This is a first-rate debut thriller for Rotenberg, who weaves Toronto into the plot as a character to this intriguing crime, 4 STARS' Manly Daily (Australia) 'Highly tipped in the awards stakes this year ... Rotenberg really gets under the skin of that fine city Toronto ... it is already being said that he does for Toronto 'what Ian Rankin does for Edinburgh' Deadly Pleasures 'A big book in more senses than one...it is intriguing how it develops in the skilled hands of the author' Yorkshire Gazette 'This engaging thriller is wonderfully assured' Western Daily Press --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Philip Cousineau on April 5 2009
Format: Hardcover
Greg Iles, Stuart Woods, Phillip Margolin, Eric Rill. Exceptional story-tellers have a way of grabbing you by both lapels and pulling you in. Add Robert Rotenberg to the list. Old City Hall is a delightful read seen from the point-of-view of six utterly believable characters: a paper-delivery person, a beat cop, a detective, a reporter, a prosecutor and a defence lawyer. The story is crafted around the stabbing of the wife of a prominent broadcaster. The investigation, proceedings, jail visits and court room scenes that follow are masterful. The book is chock full of delightful morsels like how to spot when someone's lying. Or things young lawyers need to know about not alienating an old judge. But mainly this is just a mesmerizing read. Fast paced from start to finish. Definitely put this one on your reading list.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vicki Ziegler on Feb. 14 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Old City Hall" is breathtakingly good. It's a crisply paced murder-mystery with a satisfying plot and sufficient twists to keep it addictive and infectious to the very end. The novel boasts an intriguing and consistently sympathetic cast of characters, the most colourful and endearing of which is the city of Toronto itself. Rotenberg rounds out the story with historical and cultural background on the city, and behind-the-scenes legal, law enforcement and incarceration insights that add interest and dimension to the overall story without unduly slowing down the plot momentum. Rotenberg handles a complex narrative with a confidence and deftness that belies the fact that this is his first novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Z. McCauley on May 9 2013
Format: Paperback
I have a hard time placing this novel in the genre of crime fiction, it's really not police procedural, since so much of the focus of the story relates to the Crown and Defence attorneys. Likewise, it's not really just about lawyers because the cops in the novel (one of whom is a former lawyer who somehow seems to be able to play at detective while still being a uniformed officer) play a significant role in the plot. The mental gymnastics and logical leaps the major players employ to arrive at a theory for the crime in question I found difficult to accept. The lawyers seem like they should have a significant role, but for the most part they don't do anything, or arrive at any conclusions on their own. The story was mostly there, it just seemed to lack focus.

The setting in Toronto was good, and the fact that it doesn't try to Americanize the process. The judge was probably my favourite character, although his role is minimal.

Gum shoe detectives (think Bernie Gunther, Martin Beck) are my preferred genre, if that's your thing I wouldn't recommend this. If you're more into the court room scenes you might like this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Larkin on March 18 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
With a murder and a confession within the first few pages, this book would seem to have nowhere to go. Wrong! The plot, which delivers as many twists as a corkscrew, kept me up far too late last night.

The book is well paced and the characters fully developed: the detectives; the accused and his family; the prosecutor, and witness Mr. Gurdial Singh; none are cardboard characters or placeholders.

It was a rare pleasure to read, and I hope for more novels from this very talented Canadian author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Schwindt TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 27 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a sucker for any book set in Toronto; it's always cool when you know the setting. This procedural feels accurate and real. The story unfolds beautifully, and stays plausible, though it reaches it's high point early enough to make the last few pages drag. The story of a Peter Gzowski-ish radio personality who appears to have killed his wife is excellent and the characters interesting. I am going to read Rotenbergs next book shortly; I am curious to know what he does with the people he just introduced. This is a quality piece and definitely worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Moon on July 13 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I read it in record time and it is being added to my list of books to recommend and books to keep. The characters are vivid and believable. The story itself is realistic and anyone who knows Toronto can follow the footsteps they take. I can't wait for Mr. Rotenberg's next book and also the series they are planning based on this book.
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Format: Hardcover
So many great characters in this book, I hardly knew which was the main one. I felt connected to each one's point of view and that much more aware of the import of their interactions with others. The mystery itself was okay, not bad, could be better. But I cared so much about everyone involved, that I overlook that now. The guy is a master of character creation.

I also loved the insider's view of the Toronto court system and the affectionate descriptions of the city itself. Also available in audiobook format, which is how I "read" it. Enjoyable read either way.

Side note: This author was recommended by Joan Barfoot during a writing workshop entitled "Romancing the reader."
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By TRISH CHARD on Feb. 18 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book started out really well, very interesting but gradually it wore itself down! I read Stranglehold and ought it to be excellent and fast paced; but Old City Hall reaches just a little too much to the unbelievable. On to the third book by Mr. Rotenberg and hopefully it will be of "Stranglehold" calibre! I will read all of Mr. Rotenberg's books as he is a pretty descent writer and then will read his brother David's books for comparison. Was disappointed in Old City Hall after reading Stranglehold first. ( I know I read them backwards!)
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