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Neptune Avenue: A Jack Leightner Crime Novel (Detective Jack Leightner) [Kindle Edition]

Gabriel Cohen
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“If we took it all personally,” Brooklyn South homicide detective Jack Leightner tells his rookie NYPD partner, “there’s no way we could do the job.”


Very soon, though, that notion gets shot to hell, as the deeply principled cop hears about the murder of an old Russian friend on Neptune Avenue---and then is disturbed to find himself increasingly drawn to the man’s stunning widow, Eugenia. She informs Jack of her husband’s troubles with Semyon Balakutis, a local nightclub operator and extortionist. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger in central Brooklyn is killing young women and posing them as suicides.


From the Russian emigré community of Brighton Beach to the racially charged neighborhood of Crown Heights, from the crimes of World War II to the harshness of his own father, Jack’s latest cases plunge him deep into the roots of why men act in anger---and into the eternal mystery of love.


Gabriel Cohen stuns in this riveting third addition to the Brooklyn-set series.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jack Leightner juggles two Brooklyn cases in Cohen's so-so third novel to feature the NYPD detective (after 2007's The Graving Dock): the staged suicides of two women and the murder of Russian Daniel Lelo, with whom Leightner shared a hospital room years earlier after both men were shot. Leightner, whose previous relationships include an ex-wife and a girlfriend who revealed she was seeing someone else just as he was about to propose marriage, finds himself falling for Lelo's attractive widow, Zhenya. His refusal to consider Zhenya a serious suspect damages the book's credibility, as do a number of other mistakes that a veteran like Leightner shouldn't make. Some awkward prose (e.g., The girl behind the counter was a skinny little thing dotted—like a doughnut—with bright pink acne) and a contrived ending don't help. Reggie Nadleson does a better job of covering much the same geographic and emotional territory in his Artie Cohen novels (Fresh Kills, etc.). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Contemporary Brooklyn is one of the wellsprings of crime fiction. With many dozens of ethnic enclaves sitting cheek by jowl, it is a roiling place that challenges even the skills of veteran NYPD Homicide Detective Jack Leightner. In this third Leightner novel (following The Graving Dock, 2007, and Red Hook, 2001), Jack finds himself plumbing the mysteries of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn’s Russian enclave. He’s after the murderer of a friend, a Russian immigrant he shared a hospital room with while recovering from a bullet wound; but what lonely Leightner finds first is love, or at least infatuation, with Zhenya, the victim’s wife. Principled and soulful, Leightner chastises himself for his feelings while his investigation takes him from Crown Heights to Coney Island. But plot takes a backseat here to character—Jack’s and Brooklyn’s—as Cohen treats crime fans to quirky details of Jack’s world and a knowing glimpse of an amazing place blessed and afflicted by a surfeit of “tribes” that sometimes go to war and are always suspicious of outsiders. Cohen’s novels belong, with those of Norman Green, at the top of every Brooklyn crime-fiction list. --Thomas Gaughan

Product Details

  • File Size: 423 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,371 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Who did you get yourself tangled up with?" May 24, 2009
In Gabriel Cohen's "Neptune Avenue," Brooklyn South homicide detective Jack Leightner tackles two very different cases. The first is set in Crown Heights, where someone is killing young black women and trying to make their deaths appear to be suicides. The second involves the slaying of a Russian businessman, Daniel Lelo, whom Jack had befriended two years earlier while they were both recovering in the hospital from gunshot wounds. Now Lelo is dead, shot once again, this time in the center of his forehead. Jack has been divorced for more than fifteen years and has a twenty-five year old son, Ben, whom he rarely sees. After he was dumped by the woman he hoped to marry, his social life hits bottom, and he has become something of a recluse. When he interviews Leo's widow, Eugenia (Zhenya), he is deeply attracted to the vulnerable and attractive woman.

Jack shares equal billing with the colorful borough where most of the action takes place. "Ideally, a cop here should be a walking ethnic encyclopedia and a speaker of several dozen languages." Cohen describes Brooklyn in vivid detail, taking us from Crown Heights, with its large population of African-Americans, West Indians, and Chasidic Jews to Brighton Beach, known as Little Odessa because the majority of its residents emigrated from the former Soviet Union. One particularly memorable character is Semyon Balakutis, a "tough guy" who "had the sour cockiness of a playground bully." He and Daniel had words shortly before Lelo died, and Jack suspects that this thug may have had a hand in Lelo's murder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking it Personally June 5, 2009
Brooklyn may have lost the Dodgers many years ago, but on a more positive note, in recent times it has gained Jack Leightner, homicide detective, in the series based on various sections of that borough. Initially, he appeared in "Red Hook," then in "The Graving Dock." Now, in the third in the series, he solves crimes in two areas: Coney Island/Brighton Beach and Crown Heights.

While recovering from a bullet wound, Jack befriends a Russian émigré sharing his hospital room. The roommate owns a fish import-export business in the Fulton Fish Market and is married to a very attractive woman. When they are released from the hospital, the two men rehabilitate together, walking, sharing steam baths, and getting closer. Subsequently his friend is shot dead, and Jack takes it personally. He becomes entangled romantically with the widow, who points him toward another Russian (Brighton Beach is home to a large segment of that population), and Jack attempts to prove him guilty of the crime.

Meanwhile two women are found hanged in the Crown Heights section, inhabited primarily by Hasidic Jews. Beaver fibers are located on each scene, where the women were determined to be strangled rather than suicide victims. Jack proceeds to follow each case while carrying on his affair with the widow, jeopardizing his career.

Each of the three novels in the series portrays Brooklyn, its sights, sounds and history, with an authentic flavor. And the author's ability to write a clear police procedural places him on a par with the best of the genre. In this latest chapter, we learn more about Leightner, the person, and it makes him more human than superman. All to the good. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A talented young author June 21, 2009
Neptune Avenue is the third in a series of crime novels by Gabriel Cohen featuring Jack Leightner, a Homicide Detective, in South Brooklyn. But from the very beginning of the series the stories are more than murders and "who done it". The reader is given a complex psychological description of a man with a past that affects his present life- from his alcoholic father, to the death of his brother at an early age, to a failed marriage, and trouble in all his personal relationships. Neptune Avenue continues the series with murders to be solved and relationships to be examined as Jack Leightner seeks to find the murderer of two young women who were found hanged, and the murderer of a man with whom he once shared a hospital room when he was shot years before (in Red Hook, his first novel with Detective Leightner). In the process Leightner falls in love with the man's widow.

Neptune Avenue is clearly a masculine book, but with a sensitivity to human relationships that women will find alluring. It is compelling reading to anyone who has lived in Brooklyn and is familiar with the locations he mentions- Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Red Hook. The book is a "page turner". I do not understand why these books have not been picked up by a movie studio as they would make great films. I am looking forward to his next book featuring Jack Leightner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to Gabriel Cohen May 22, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. When I find an author of interest I begin at the beginning and move forward. This is the fourth novel by Gabriel Cohen I've read and the third Jack Leightner story and with "Neptune Avenue" Cohen has crossed a boundary from crime story to literature. This is not about flash. This is about a protagonist whom the reader can care about and characters and plot line that feels real, not created to titillate but to engage. I haven't lived in Brooklyn for twenty years but Cohen brings me back and engenders intense memories of the streets and characters of my youth while at the same time telling a story that I didn't want to end. Bravo.
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