Wrapped in the shell of a police procedural “The Swamps of Jersey,” is a tale of human nature: love, trust, deceit, crime, politics, social change and redemption, and captures the spirit of recent events that have affected the United States over the past few years, all boiled down to the desperate streets of Ironton, New Jersey, a distressed industrial city where the deserted factories and empty stores reflect the decades-long decline.
The story opens at the end of a weeklong tropical storm that wrecked the city, leaving a scene of flooded streets, collapsed homes, trees and power lines, and shelters filled with displaced residents.
The mayor, Gabriel Richman, scion of one of the city’s leading political families, cannot seem to find the combination of actions that brings economic life back to his city.
Detective Frank Nagler meanwhile has to figure out how the butchered body of a young woman, whose head and hands have been removed, wound up in the Old Iron Bog.
At the same time, an investigation into a series of letters that claim to show that city funds are being stolen intensifies as information found on computers point to a surprise suspect: Nagler’s old girlfriend who disappeared. An old factory suspiciously burns down, and the murder case brings up concerns that Charlie Adams, the city’s famous serial killer, who Nagler helped jail twenty years before, and who is still in jail, may have fostered a copycat killer.
Nagler’s enduring memory is of his late wife, Martha. They were childhood sweethearts but she died in her early twenties. After her death, he withdraws emotionally, hiding, he admits, in his police work.
The story is as much about Nagler’s internal debate, and the debilitating impact of economic failure coupled with political corruption as it is about the crime solving.
My thanks to the team at my publisher, Imzadi Publishing, and to friends and authors Diane Havens and Devorah Fox, and to editor Susan Toth, for their guidance and skill as they reviewed the manuscript.
A Kindle version is available at
Coming soon is an edition for Barnes & Noble.
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