I first met Bobby Rotenberg around the time he launched T.O. magazine, an upstart, edgy city publication I had the pleasure of writing for, a long time ago. Since then, I’ve bumped into him from time to time and reconnected when we found out our kids go to the same school.
He mentioned that he’d written a novel (his first), slated to come out in early March 2009 and offered to send me a copy.
So when Old City Hall arrived, I read it right away. The book is a stylish, witty page-turner. Crime fiction that centre’s on Canada’s best known, craggy talk radio host. It starts when Kevin (I want to say Peter) Brace confesses to murdering his wife in their luxury condo, and then says nothing more. With its sharp twists and turns, you’re taken on an investigative journey that surprises and entertains. The characters play against stereotype – Jewish homicide officer, lawyer turned cop, new Canadian crown attorney – and offer a new perspective on the formerly bland and conservative safe haven Toronto used to be.
The prose is stylish, the dialogue fresh and the cast are a quirky and believable mix of the people you’d see living and working in Toronto today; a reflection of our coming-into-its-own metropolis.
Bobby has combined his love of T.O. (i.e. the magazine) with his work as a criminal lawyer to offer both a superb story, and a wry commentary on the city and its foibles; its inner workings; what makes it tick.
And that is an extra gift.
Look for Old City Hall in March at your local bookseller or online here.