From Publishers Weekly
Ex-NYPD homicide cop Jackson Jake Steeg, who took a bullet in Family Matters
(2006), can't get away from his Hell's Kitchen heritage in Berkowitz's violent and entertaining sequel. Jake's hateful ex-mother-in-law, Jeanmarie Doyle, wants him to help his ex, Ginny, and her new husband, Tony Ferris, who are getting death threats. A reluctant Jake can't avoid getting involved after Tony is brutally murdered. A recovering alcoholic with one good lung, Jake can still mix it up with the tough guys and is quick to do so. The busy plot finds him dealing with corrupt cops and politicians, skinheads, an Israeli gangster and other creeps. Deftly rendering such New York City neighborhoods as Alphabet City and Brighton Beach (Little Odessa), Berkowitz keeps the dialogue rough, the action fast and the characterization thin but sharp as Jake steers his way through the myriad traps thrown in his way. (Dec.)
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*Starred Review* Former NYPD detective Jackson Steeg, mostly recovered from a bullet wound, is now retired and pensioned, but his demons remain—the ever-present snakes in his head that variously roil, dance, and riot according to circumstances. And the circumstances include his failed marriage, his ongoing battle to keep from drinking, and a host of near-tribal loyalties and enmities that spring from his Hell’s Kitchen upbringing. So, when his poisonous former mother-in-law demands that he find and kill the persons threatening his ex-wife’s husband, the snakes prepare to dance. In short order, the husband is brutally murdered, and Steeg finds himself poking his nose into big-money Manhattan real estate development and the affairs of a wheeler-dealer city councilman, his former NYPD partner, and an Israeli crime boss who frightens even the Russian Mob. Steeg and a half dozen other characters are memorable creations, and the dialogue is clever and gritty. Best, though, is the portrait of Hell’s Kitchen and its denizens, who predate gentrification. Old Flame is a tightly written, deftly plotted gem of crime fiction. --Thomas Gaughan