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About Westside by W.M. Akers

New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind.

A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside, a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents.

It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here.

Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night.

Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it.  When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face.

All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it.

NOTE:  The blurb has been edited for length.  See retail sights for more details.

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Review of Westside

When I started reading Westside, I called it a ‘quirky little book’ – after a few chapters. Quirky, yes, but using just that one word does not do justice to the book. So here are a few more:

Unusual – the setting and plot of Westside are truly unique. I crave true originality in books, and when such imagination is expressed in a book, I must tell the world! The setting is an alternative early 20th century New York City. A wall divides the East from the West because the West started to go weird. Really weird.  Houses started sinking, vegetation took over, rust overtook everything rustable and people started disappearing. But Gilda Carr loves her home and would not even consider changing where she lives.

Interesting – Good thing Gilda is a Westsider, because she makes a compelling heroine. Five-foot-tall, solver of tiny mysteries. “Those impossible puzzles that burrow into our brains like splinters and keep us awake at night.”  Because big mysteries are dull. Interesting philosophy. Also interesting is the fact that a peace loving petite detective suddenly becomes a gun-toting, body-slamming big mystery solver.  Gilda’s evolution was swift but, strangely, did not seem out of character.  In all fairness, the big mystery started with a tiny mystery.  The Case of the Missing Glove.

Action-packed – the story takes place over just a few days. It felt like longer, not because the story dragged, but because there was so much crammed into it. And not always neatly crammed, but messy, sloppy, what-the-heck-is-going-to-happen-next? crammed.

Which leads me to twisty. Reading the first few chapters, I could never have imagined how things would play out. Not even close. If I can’t guess the ending of a book, I call it a good one!

Colorful – so many big characters, dark corners, loud music and stormy skies. Imagine the Aurorae Borealis only more colors. And louder. Beautiful and fascinating and I just couldn’t take my eyes away from the page.

Genre-bending – okay, that may be a given, if you read the blurb. Historical, mystery, scifi, and horror. Take your pick, you will find it all in Westside.

So to summarize:  unusual, interesting, action-packed, twisty, colorful, and genre-bending. When I put those all together, I get Quirky! 5 stars!

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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