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"The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world." — The Great Gatsby
The isle of Manhattan has played host and muse to countless authors past and present. Many even call it home. With its steel canyons, dark alleys, and sea of citizens, it is a borough bursting at the seam wtih stories.
Manhattan Mayhem, an anthology from Mystery Writers of America (and edited by Mary Higgins Clark!) hit the shelves this week. To celebrate the gorgeous tome, we asked some of the contributing authors to share their favorite local haunts, and give us a glimpse into their mysterious Manhattan.
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Author of The Witch and the Borscht Pearl
Manhattan Mayhem Story: "Wall Street Rodeo"
The Wall Street/Bowling Green area is my favorite among many great Manhattan sites because I love it for its buildings and history. Trinity Church with its original tombstones, the India Club, the Federal Building with George Washington immortalized out front…to mention only a few! It’s fun down there, too. One of the local festivals had a motto: “Party Like It’s 1620!” It served authentic food of the era, though I learned I much prefer the annual San Genaro festival food in Little Italy.
An examination of the local shops are humorously revealing (to me): many in the financial sector decorate themselves with unstinting luxury; have a prodigious sweet tooth; and revel in fine food—especially steak and wine—although without fine manners when indulging. (A lot of screaming at Wall Street parties.) Our centuries-old streets are disorganized and random, nothing like the orderly uptown version of Manhattan. Another feature is, of course, the Bull. I’ve given directions to many foreign tourists, only able to communicate through pointing and walking fingers and bobbing or shaking my head. Visitors have told me they traveled thousands of miles just to see, and touch, the iconic Wall Street Bull. It’s an enthralling spectacle.
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T. Jefferson Parker
Author of Full Measure
Manhattan Mayhem Story: "Me and Mikey"
Umberto's Clam house is the only business in Little Italy I am even a little familiar with. I went there for the first time in 1985, just before my first mystery, "Laguna Heat," was published by St. Martin's Press. This was my first time in New York City. It was summer. I traipsed all the way down to Little Italy from the Edison Hotel on 47th. Like a lot of other wanna-be Mafia watchers, I wanted to see where Joe Gallo had been killed in 1972.
I arrived at Umberto's Clam House about 11 a.m. and took a seat at the counter and tried not to gawk and reveal myself as the murder tourist that I obviously was. I asked for coffee and the counter man handed me a menu. A few minutes later he came back and I told him I wasn't ready for lunch, just the coffee was fine. He shook his head. "You have to eat something." I ordered garlic toast. It had mountains of garlic on it, which I think may have a been a practical and well-deserved joke. I've been back since and I always get the garlic toast.
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Author of While Angels Sleep
Manhattan Mayhem Story: "Sutton Death Overtime"
The Sutton Place area has been my home for twenty years. A lovely neighborhood in every sense of the word. I couldn’t imagine a more inviting place to plant a decades-old cold case featuring a vanished socialite, an unscrupulous reporter, and a famous mystery writer with a wonderfully wicked imagination.
People come to Sutton Place for the stunning river views and stay for steak frites or moules mariniere at Bistro Vendome, a hint of Paris without the jet lag. Italy is just around the corner in the welcoming guise of master chef Pino Luongo’s Morso, where the pasta caccio e pepe (grown-up mac and cheese!) would sit atop my request list for a last meal. Stop for pain au chocolat and a latte at Financier on First Avenue. Then work it all off with a bracing walk along the East River in the company of bikers, joggers, dog-walkers, gawkers, lovers, and bench-potatoes baking in the sun.