THE BRONX KILL
By Philip Cioffari
Publisher: Livingston Press (March, 2017)
Kindle edition: $4.95
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
One hot August night, a group of teenagers were goofing around in their usual haunt by the murky waters of the Bronx Kill. Charlie, the purported leader of the band, goaded his friends into trying to swim from the Kill to Queens, a feat dangerous at any time. The night ended in tragedy: Tim Moonie drowned, his death ruled accidental; Julianne, the girl they were all in love with, was swept away in the fierce current, her body never found. The three survivors vowed never to speak of this night again. Charlie, as angry and hot-headed as ever, went on to manage his uncle’s bar. Johnny, the weakest link in the group, entered the seminary. Danny, the level-headed voice of reason, moved to Florida to get away from the scene of the crime, pursuing a more or less successful career in writing.
Five years later, Danny returns to the old neighborhood. Johnny had left the seminary, promptly proposing to his ever-faithful childhood girlfriend. The old gang was invited back for the engagement party. It’s not an easy reunion. What happened that night has left scars too painful to examine. Their former closeness was too damaged to be repaired, yet they do their best to support each other.
Things spin out of control when an old adversary returns to their life. Tim’s brother Tommy was always a bully; now he is a bully with a NYPD detective badge and revenge on his mind. He is convinced, all evidence to the contrary, that the boys are responsible for Tim’s death, and he will stop at nothing to prove it and to punish them.
THE BRONX KILL is a haunting, dark look at how tragedy can affect people differently, and how secrets can destroy lives. It’s also a fine mystery, masterfully written. The characters are so realistic they jump off the page, evoking every human emotion. Mr. Gioffari has written several novels and short stories, and has won several prestigious literary awards. Recommended.
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