Central Park West by James Comey

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

To align one’s name with an author who is highly regarded in the field of fiction is praise indeed. In the case of James Comey, the comparison is with John Grisham, the man widely regarded as having invented the legal thriller. Comey takes his readers deep inside the hate-filled and treacherous Mafia. His knowledge is vast and, although his readers may have no direct knowledge of criminal organisations, they perceive no difficulty in accepting Comey at his word.

Readers of the legal thriller have become accustomed to judges that are not as untainted as they might have been, scheming lawyers whose greed has grown so much that the boundary line between behaviour that is dishonest and that which is acceptable to wider society is unclear, and clever criminals who push the boundaries too far.

The gripping crime fiction debut from former FBI director James Comey takes readers deep inside the world of lawyers and investigators working to solve a murder while navigating the treacherous currents of modern politics and the mob. In Comey’s book, the technique of conducting murder works at several levels. One man is placed on trial for his life and, as the clues are collected, the trial has to be aborted since the man on trial offers to supply information hitherto unknown to the prosecution, on certain conditions favourable to the miscreant.

Central Park West is an intriguing tale that appeals because the author is so knowledgeable in federal law enforcement. The book has a sensible plot enriched by real-life details and experiences. While its unique perspective gives the novel much of its allure, it is the characters, the dynamism of the plot, the twists in direction, and believable courtroom scenes as authentic as they are dramatic that will leave readers looking forward to more from this bold new innovator in this type of story.

James Comey could very well have an advantage over his fellow writers. After a satisfying career covering some thirty years in federal law enforcement, he served as the seventh Director of the FBI until sacked by President Trump in 2017.

A beautiful female lead is always useful in selling the ‘idea’ of the book. This presupposes that she is competent, fearless, and knows enough of the opposite sex to compete on a reasonably intelligent level. It would be unacceptable to argue that she would compete for attention on the same level as the men as such does not exist where attractive females are part of the equation. In the advertising spiel, Comey’s book acknowledges the deviousness of Nora Carleton but in the text, the author takes care to spread the prosecuting agency’s success across a number of talented individuals. One individual stands out – this is the overweight Benny whose uncouthness, while charting a new level, is matched by his high intelligence. In general terms, the men do not present with the same level of common sense that the women do. (Maybe Comey has had unfortunate experiences with senior members of the legal fraternity who just happen to have been men).

Maybe he’s been more fortunate with the women in his life.

Central Park West


by James Comey

Head of Zeus

ISBN: 978 139949 731 2

$32.99; 336 pp


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