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Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Cotto
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A beautiful young French girl walks into a bar, nervously lights a cigarette, and begs the bartender for help in finding her missing artist brother. In a moment of weakness, the bartender—a lone wolf named Caesar Stiles with a chip on his shoulder and a Sicilian family curse hanging over him—agrees. What follows is a stylish literary mystery set in Brooklyn on the dawn of gentrification.

While Caesar is initially trying to earn an honest living at the neighborhood watering hole, his world quickly unravels. In addition to being haunted by his past, including a brother who is intent on settling an old family score, Caesar is being hunted down by a mysterious nemesis known as The Orange Man. Adding to this combustible mix, Caesar is a white man living in a deep-rooted African American community with decidedly mixed feelings about his presence. In the course of his search for the French girl's missing brother, Caesar tumbles headlong into the shadowy depths of his newly adopted neighborhood, where he ultimately uncovers some of its most sinister secrets.

Taking place over the course of a single week, Outerborough Blues is a tightly paced and gritty urban noir saturated with the rough and tumble atmosphere of early 1990s Brooklyn.

Andrew Cotto has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Men's Journal,, Teachers & Writers magazine and The Good Men Project. He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Editorial Reviews


"an ambitious noir thriller...that reads like Raymond Chandler taking dictation from Walt Whitman." - Publishers Weekly

"Outerborough Blues is as close to perfect as it gets." - Mystery Scene Magazine

"A poetic shimmering noir mystery that is consistently elegant despite it's gritty terrain." - The Brooklyn Rail

"Cotto, who lives in Brooklyn, evokes a New York state of mind in this well-crafted urban noir." - Booklist

"Cotto's incisive prose depicts a worn Brooklyn and an even warier protagonist. Amidst the vibrant Brooklyn characters, this is a novel of subtleties. Cotto deftly handles the complex Caesar Stiles. In Caesar's misfortunes, readers will find a mournful - and irresistible - beauty." - Crime Fiction Lover

From the Back Cover

"Outerborough Blues is a dark, twisted ride on the ungentrified side. Buckle up, Cotto's writing is reminiscent of vintage Andrew Vachss." - Tim McLoughlin, editor, Brooklyn Noir

"Outerborough Blues, Andrew Cotto's gritty, well-crafted Brooklyn noir, is fast, furious, and dangerous." - Helen Schulman, author, This Beautiful Life

Product Details

  • File Size: 284 KB
  • Print Length: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Ig Publishing (May 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00915UQGI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,260 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this... December 11, 2012
By Raven
When you read and review regularly, you can sometimes get a little jaded as books can oftentimes meld into one, or display all those bad writing habits of one-dimensional characters, ludicrous plotting and so on. However, every so often an unexpected treasure lands in your lap which restores your faith, and Andrew Cotto's Outerborough Blues is one such book. Combining the style of some of the best contemporary American fiction (I would draw comparisons with David Prete and Elliot Perlman) and the street savvy social analysis of a writer like George Pelecanos, Cotto has delivered a book that rises above the simple tag of crime novel into a truly powerful and affecting read.

I won't dwell on the intricacies of the plot in the interests of keeping it fresh and surprising for you all, but needless to say it is beautifully weighted, with the alternating time frames of past and present, seamlessly melded into the overall story. As elements of our main protagonist Caesar's former life are revealed, Cotto gradually unveils how the events of the past are so instrumental on Caesar's actions and for his single-mindedness at righting past wrongs in the present, so the split timelines work well within the narrative. All of Caesar's central relationships in the book are dictated to by his highly attuned sense of morality, garnered by his formerly tumbleweed existence and the relationships encountered along the way, before his settling in a community wracked by racial tension and socio-economic problems. Cotto portrays this community and its underlying problems astutely, bringing Caesar into conflict or comradeship with his fellow inhabitants, as he takes on the problems of those around him and seeks to expose the corruption of others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery, by Andrew Cotto, is a story of a young Brooklyn man, Caesar Stiles, and his troubled past, remembered through flashbacks of his childhood. Many of these postcard moments, playing out the delicate, emotional connection with his father and brothers, are filled with sadness, regret and longing. And these are the times when Cotto's writing soars.

When Caesar remembers being a little boy, waiting for his father with anticipation on the front steps of his house, "waiting, until the faint sound of a motorcycle tickles my ear".

When he remembers the musician, Macie Turner, whose "mother had sown herself into a cotton kite and flown away when he was four years old".

How his grandmother had stalked a man in New Orleans, "learning his habits, studying his dust".

When he dreams of his father, of his acceptance and love, "He tassles my hair into a bird's nest and kisses my forehead. And then he disappears, the moisture from his lips still wet on my skin."

Cotto's story is rich with symbolism - even down to its very structure. Presented in seven chapters, each named after a day in the week leading up to Easter Sunday, the book follows Caesar as he seeks to redeem himself and save everyone he loves in the process. By Good Friday, Caesar's been mocked, beaten, pissed on, stabbed in the side, and faces imminent death. Will he be crucified, "hung from the fence" of the art school near his house?

Or will he (physically and metaphorically) wake up on Sunday morning, bathe (finally), get dressed in clean clothes and walk out of his house onto the rain-washed streets of Brooklyn, a new man?

From the moment I started reading Outerborough Blues, I certainly hoped so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of noir/crime fiction June 20, 2012
By Mej
For fans of Pelecanos, Mosley or Price, Outerborough Blues will certainly please you. This is Andrew Cotto's second novel and it's a step in the right direction. Cotto's first novel was a coming of age story, whereas Outerborough Blues is his take on crime/noir fiction. It's in this space that Cotto seems most comfortable. There's even moments of Daniel Woodrell's white trash wonderland in a midwest bar that make it seem as though Cotto is either tipping his hat the masters of these genres, or he's simply doing his best take on them.

With that said, Cotto's novel stands on its own. It's not his version of the aforementioned authors so much as a comfortable fit in a long tradition of mystery fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong novel September 9, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Enjoyable, compelling novel. Cotto's writing is fluid and natural with a lyrical quality that (more than once) made me stop and savor the moment. I began to get the notion he carved this work out of a broader mythology, giving his characters substance and depth. He's a confident writer who lets the story dip and bounce, but it always stays within the frame. I found myself reading into even some very minor characters--there are no cardboard cutouts here. For me, this is a hallmark of a deft touch. He paints vividly but still leaves the reader room to imagine and share the experience rather than just consume it. A novel with balance and timing--like good music. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to buy this book ASAP! May 30, 2012
Have you ever read a book that you know you will read again and again? Outerborough Blues is now a book on my list. Andrew Cotto has a style of writing that is lyrical and commanding. He skilfully draws the reader's attention with the voice of Caesar Stiles as he tells the history of his family's lineage and his attempt for redemption.

Caesar Stiles is a man haunted by his past. A drifter recently arrived in Brooklyn, he is looking to set down roots and create a `normal' life for himself. He takes a job in a local joint called The Notch as a bartender and cook, minding his own business and doing a good job of it until an attractive French girl walks in to the bar, orders a drink and enlists him to find her missing brother. Stiles agrees, and his quiet little world is thrown off kilter.

In the course of his search for the artist, Stiles finds himself rooting around in the seedy side of Brooklyn's underground: a place of drug addicts, prostitution and organized crime. Stiles begins to notice a car tailing him and a growing pile of cigarette butts outside of his front gate. Someone is watching him, leaving a crawling feeling down his spine as he wonders who it could be. Having crossed a nefarious individual who he calls The Orange Man, Stiles is worried the man may be looking to retaliate.

Caesar's past soon catches up with him in the form of his ex-convict brother who has a violent temper usually directed in Caesar's direction, and this time isn't an exception as he seeks to settle a family score. With his brother on the warpath, the continued search for the missing man, and a beating from a group of local thugs, Stile's life spirals out of control in the course of one week.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars But I Wouldn't Want to Live There
The protagonist grew up with violence, and the story takes place in a violent area of Brooklyn. All the characters seem like bad guys. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Kinderhook Annie
1.0 out of 5 stars not great
This book was so disjointed that I had trouble keeping the characters straight.
Published 10 months ago by harpur
4.0 out of 5 stars Realty of life and the fight to survive
I chose to read this story due to the NYC background. While. Born in Manhattan my life was not like the Brooklyn environment in the story. Mr. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Paul C. Bopko
5.0 out of 5 stars An author to look out for
The writing was fairly gorgeous for the most part, the action fast-paced but nicely rythymed between flashbacks and present, and the main character breathlessly well-rounded, right... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrea Gibbons
5.0 out of 5 stars Cotto delivers a captivating mystery noir: highly recommended read.
Found out about this book after having read another book written by Cotto, The Domino Effect. Having just finished reading Outerborough Blues, I can attest to the fact that Cotto's... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommend this story
The book explores the life- both past and present- of a young man fighting to find his place in the world. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Orchard Book Club
5.0 out of 5 stars Outerborough Blues
Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery is an intriguing story that grasps readers and pulls them into the obscure life of Caesar Stiles. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Stacie Theis
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing.
Some points for an unforgiving mouse's eye view of the ghetto; but this material is very depressing. Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. Rodeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Well-Written
I found this book to be incredible on a few levels. First, it was beautifully written. The imagery and exposition brought me right into the novel's setting and the main character's... Read more
Published on March 4, 2013 by Blanca the Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars While it didn't totally grasp my attention, it had enough to keep me...

It is the story of Caesar, an unattached young man in his 20's. It starts one evening when a young woman arrives at the bar/restaurant where he cooks, and... Read more
Published on February 11, 2013 by Masquerade Crew
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More About the Author

Andrew Cotto is a writer and teacher who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of two novels: "The Domino Effect" - winner of the 2012 Readers Favorite Silver Medal - is a coming of age story about a kid from Queens with a damaged past and a complicated present at a boarding school in rural New Jersey; "Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery" is an unconventional noir about a drifter seeking a missing person and a remedy to his family's curse on the dawn of urban gentrification. His novels are represented by Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency. Andrew's articles have appeared in many national journals, including the New York Times, Men's Journal, The Huffington Post,, Deadspin, the Good Men Project and Teachers & Writers Magazine. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School.

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