A group of criminals in 1946 pull off the heist of the century, stealing a dozen priceless works of art from a Boston museum. But while the thieves get caught, the art is never found. Forty years later, the last surviving thief gets out of jail and goes hunting for the loot, involving some innocent college students in his dangerous plan - and thirty years after that, in the present day, the former college kids, now all grown up, are drawn back into danger as the still-missing art tempts a deadly new generation of treasure hunters.
A breathtakingly clever, twist-filled narrative [that] establishes Scott Von Doviak as a storyteller of the first order ... a funny, violent, baseball-infused novel that inhabits three different times and keeps readers guessing until the very end ... Charlesgate Confidential is what happens when storytelling skills meet a love for pulp and a knack for dialogue. Von Doviak knows what he’s doing, and the way this novel unfolds is proof of that ... Every classic element of pulp is here, but they feel fresh because Von Doviak puts his own spin on them. His ability to juggle many characters at once is outstanding ... this 383-page novel reads more like a fast-paced novella ... Entertaining, humorous, and packed with snappy dialogue, Charlesgate Confidential ... proves pulp is alive and as good as ever.
This inventive chronicle...can seem like solving a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle in the mirror. But the challenge is a worthy one, and the finished product is immensely enjoyable ... Mr. Von Doviak finds the appropriate tone for every occasion in this unpredictable novel, whose moods range from hard-boiled to slapstick to gothic. Even the author’s afterword is entertaining, ending with the sentence: 'Please tell all your friends to buy this book.' Consider it done.
The problem with the novel is that it’s a chore to read. The characters are hopeless parodies of post-war Irish hoods, eighties college students, and modern-day homicide cops. The dialogue is so bad it sets your teeth on edge. It’s the sort of manuscript that, while being a good first effort, should have been sent back to the writer with firm instructions to enlist the help of a stern-minded coach and editor ... while Charlesgate Confidential may attract many fans of the noir subgenre with its clever storyline, Von Doviak will alienate and annoy many others with his unpalatable writing style. Readers not interested in bad parodies, intentional or otherwise, won’t make it all the way through this one.