A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Robert J. Randisi

J. F. BURKE – Location Shots. New York: Harper & Row, hardcover, 1974. Charter, paperback, 1980.

   This is the first of three medium-hard-boiled detective novels featuring Sam Kelly, the resident house dick at the Hotel Castlereagh on Seventy-second Street in Manhattan. Kelly is black, bald, and forty — one of the more recent black series detectives in crime fiction. His girlfriend is Madam Bobbie, a voluptuous blonde who lives in the hotel across the square, the Charmain Towers — but her girls do most of their work out of the Castlereagh.

   As this book opens, Sam and Madam Bobbie are awakened in her apartment by police sirens. They discover that the street in front of both hotels is full of cops, and Sam goes down to investigate. As it turns out, a woman in room 8A of Kelly’s hotel, Anna Jensen, was murdered during the night. Kelly knows for a fact that a friend of his, David Christopher, who lived in 9A, was a “friend” of the dead woman’s, but when he goes to 9A, he finds his friend dead as well.

   At odds with Commander Fuseli, the cop in charge, Sam also finds himself involved with characters indigenous only to New York, as well as talking birds and a search for a manuscript and a tape recording that might lead to the killer.

   Burke uses the city of New York so well that it virtually becomes another character in this novel and in the subsequent books in the series. Sam Kelly is also featured in Death Trick (1975) and Kelly Among the Nightingales (1979).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

Bibliographic Note:   Burke also wrote two books about a nightclub pianist named Joe Streeter: The Kama Sutra Tango (Harper, 1977) and Crazy Woman Blues (Dutton, 1978).