Title: A Cold Case
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed and dated (July 2001) by Gourevitch on the title-page. Bookseller Inventory # MR3443
Synopsis: A few years ago, Andy Rosenzweig, chief investigator for the Manhattan District Attorney's office, was abruptly reminded of an old double homicide: a friend from his youth, a former prizefighter, had been murdered along with another man in 1970. It bothered Rosenzweig that the killer had eluded capture for nearly three decades. He resolved to track down the fugitive and -- if he was still alive -- to close the case.
In a surprising, intensely dramatic narrative, Philip Gourevitch brings together the story of Rosenzweig's pursuit with a mesmerizing account of the killer's criminal personality and his decades on the lam. A Cold Case carries us deep into the lives and minds, the passions and perplexities, of two extraordinary men who embody opposing but quintessentially American codes of being-that of the lawman and that of the outlaw. Set in a New York City milieu that has all but disappeared, and written with a keen ear for the vibrant idiom of the men and women who once peopled its streets, this is a book for our times, written with a force and immediacy that compel attention.
When Gourevitch's first book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, appeared in 1998, the novelist Robert Stone said of the author, "There is no limit to what we may expect of him." With A Cold Case Gourevitch sustains the promise of his earlier work, masterfully transforming a criminal investigation into a searching literary reckoning with the urges that drive one man to murder and another to hunt murderers.
Review: Frank Koehler was only 15 when he shot a friend in the back for double-crossing him. That's the sort of guy he was--violent, Mob-connected, and remorse-free. In the same rough-and-tumble postwar neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side lived a very different young man: Andy Rosenzweig, rigorously straight and determined to become a policeman at a time when cops were more likely to be taking naps or bribes than nabbing criminals. Years later, in 1970, Koehler murdered two men after an argument in a restaurant. One of the victims was a friend of Rosenzweig's. It was a straightforward case, but in a typical show of the NYPD's ineptitude, the case was closed when someone decided to declare Koehler dead, allowing him to slip away.
Twenty-seven years after the murders, on the eve of Rosenzweig's retirement as chief of investigations, he reopened the case, determined not to leave without catching the murderer of his friend. Philip Gourevitch, who last examined murder in the award-winning We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, is more interested in the personalities of killers and those who pursue them than the drama of murder itself. As a result, A Cold Case is short on tension, but it is an excellent character study. Gourevitch immerses us in the "white hoodlum milieu of another time and from a city which no longer really exists," and he conjures up the particular moral universe of each character--Rosenzweig; murder victim Richie Glennon, an ex-prizefighter who walked the fence between the good guys and the bad guys; Murray Richman, the Mob-defending lawyer from the Bronx who likes murder cases because there's "one less witness to worry about"; and Koehler himself, now elderly but still unremorseful. Gourevitch's skillful handling raises intriguing contradictions and questions, not least this one Koehler asks about himself: "Why would people still think good of this asshole?" Now, that's a story. --Lesley Reed
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