Allen J. Hubin


JOSEPH KOENIG – Little Odessa. Viking, hardcover, 1988. Ballantine, paperback, 1989.

   Perhaps contrary to the prevailing view, I had sizeable reservations about Joseph Koenig’s first, Floater, but I have none about his second, Little Odessa, an innovative and grimly amusing slice of New York’s nether regions.

   Kate Piro, born in Odessa, Russia, dances nude at one of the city’s sleazier night spots while yearning for something better. An arrest brings her in touch with Stanley Bucyk, cop, which is not better. Kate “moonlights” at another joint, whose owner (like all males within viewing distance) wants her in bed.

   She resists, but he offers her the management of his joint, and the loan of his townhouse and its resident wolfhound, while he takes a trip to Israel. Everyone in this little caper is bent — it’s just a matter of degree.

   Terminally bent, someone is, for in short order Kate has a corpse leaking all over the townhouse and nowhere to turn. This is a dandy.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.

[UPDATE] 05-13-12.   Joseph Koenig wrote four well-regarded crime novels between 1986 and 1993, then seemingly dropped out of sight as far as the world of mystery fiction was concerned. He has recently resurfaced as an author, however. His first novel in nearly 20 years, False Negative, will be published in June by Hard Case Crime. You can read more about it here.