Book Review: The Nightworkers by Brian Selfon
By Ray PalenOctober 13, 2020
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Anyone who has ever taken a creative writing class, whether it be for long or short fiction, will recognize that one of the golden rules before starting is to write what you know. This allows you to write with a more confident voice and allow your story to remain grounded in reality. This is precisely what debut novelist Brian Selfon has done with his novel The Nightworkers. He reaches back into his experience with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, where he focused on cases dealing with money-laundering and first-degree murder and used that as the background for a story that deals with a ‘family’ of Brooklyn criminals who focus primarily on ‘moving money’ from one place to another for their clients.
It all starts when Henry falls in love with Emil Scott at first sight. Neither identifies as homosexual, but there is an obvious bond. Henry is a member of a criminal family specializing in money laundering. Emil is an up-and-coming artist in a gentrified area of Brooklyn that seems to house nothing but artists. Henry plays to Emil’s vanity as he is a fan of his artwork. He is able to convince Emil that having money will allow him to focus more on his work and achieve the fame he so desires. Henry intends to use Emil as a money runner because he is hungry and shrewd. Regrettably, this relationship will not end positively for either of them.
Henry is part of a ‘family’ of criminals who all live under one house. The patriarch of this family is Shecky Keenan who has been doing this his entire life. He has shared his trade with his housemates, Henry, and the recently paroled from prison, Kerasha. Both Henry and Kerasha have their own dreams for success and where they would take the family business once Shecky is no longer around or retired.
Kerasha is an expert at break-ins and has a sixth sense for blueprints and layouts. Henry is a numbers guy and he is always looking for that big score the two of them can claim together to make Shecky proud and show that they are ready to stand on their own. Things take a tragic turn when Emil is killed while in operation under Henry. The death is called a mugging gone wrong, but there is enough evidence to possibly tie things back to the ‘family’ and it is Shecky who has to answer the questions of the NYPD when they come knocking at the door of their Brooklyn home.
There is a quarter of a million dollars at play, the amount taken from Emil, and this brings along the involvement of a big-time criminal player in Brooklyn known as Red Dog. It also brings in a psychotic sometimes-girlfriend of Henry’s who goes by the tag Lipz and she will do anything to get what she sees as her share of the stolen money. Brian Selfon steps firmly into the new genre known as Brooklyn Noir and the result is a twisty crime thriller that will hit home for those familiar with the area. Fans of the crime thriller genre will particularly enjoy the time Selfon has taken to focus on what he knows while creating very believable characters that you will instantly care about.
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