The City Man
By Howard Akler
Published by Coach House Books
Reviewed by Martha Beach
The City Man is a fast-paced novel filled with crime and passion that centers on the unexpected romance between a broken-down journalist and a pickpocket criminal.
The story starts with Eli Morenz, the city-man journalist for the Star, who is covering an event at City Hall. In the crowd is a pickpocket, Mona Kantor, who finds many easy pickings among the mass crowd at City Hall. Using a stealthy photo and some good research, Eli discovers the pickpocket ring and is lead to the underworld convergence of pickpockets in Kensington Market - and to the discovery of Mona.
Eli and Mona's romance is unusual and unexpected. It begins in an instant and careens quickly towards risk, as Eli delves deeper into the world of criminals and Mona tries to keep him on the outskirts of the world she grew up in.
Set in 1934 Toronto, the story's setting moves between a hectic newsroom, the bustle of Union station, and the secret meeting-place of pickpockets.
The City Man's evocation of a lost Toronto has been compared to Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion.
It's a high-speed crime and romance novel, filled with arcane period slang: a terrific read, but not for the faint of heart.
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