Old City Hall


Author: Robert Rotenberg

Published: 2009

Genre: Mystery

About Old City Hall: A popular radio host is charged with the murder of his wife.

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Review of Old City Hall

On December 17th, when Mr. Singh arrives to deliver the newspaper to Kevin Brace, the host of a nationwide radio show, he expects they will have their usual brief conversation and then he'll be on his way. But that is not what happened.

Mr. Kevin raised his hands to the light. Mr. Singh could see the red liquid clearly now. It was thick and heavy, not thin like juice from an orange.

Mr. Singh's heart began to race.

It was blood.

Mr. Singh opened his mouth to speak. But before he could say a word, Mr. Kevin leaned closer. "I killed her, Mr. Singh," he whispered, "I killed her."

...from page 6

It seems like an open-and-shut case. Detective Ari Greene is sure he has the right guy but the more he looks into the murder, the more things don't add up. And Brace isn't talking, not even to his lawyer.

Rotenberg has a talent for making his characters unique and identifiable immediately upon meeting them. There were a lot of characters involved in this story and although the point-of-view switched often, I was never confused. I also thought it was interesting that Brace was not-so-subtly inspired by Peter Gzowski, from his appearance to his radio show.

Mr. Kevin was the host of a morning radio show that was broadcast across the country. Mr. Singh had tried to listen to it a few times, but it was just a lot of chatter about fishing in Newfoundland, fiddle music in the Ottawa Valley, and farming on the prairies.

...from page 4

As the story picked up speed, chapters would often end with one character or another having a revelation — something would happen or be said to make them realize that they'd missed an important clue — and the character would rush off. This hasn't happened in the mysteries and thrillers that I've been reading and I liked it a lot. If I'd had more time, I would have gone back to see if I could figure out what they figured out before carrying on with the story. Maybe in the next book.

Also, I have to mention that I loved what Rotenberg did at the beginning of chapter 52. I'm not going to spoil it here but I will say that I read it aloud to a few people.

Old City Hall had some really nice twists and I was often surprised. It's an impressive debut and I am eagerly awaiting Rotenberg's next book.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 27 February 2010 from the hardcover version.

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More Reviews

Sarah Weinman, Quill & Quire, January 2009
“...he applies his courtroom knowledge to a clever debut that modifies the legal thriller template into a larger study of the vagaries of human behaviour.”
Michael Carlson, Crime Time, 11 Mar 2009
“But as a mix of both detective work and legal thriller, as both a puzzle and a study of characters, Old City Hall delivers.”


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Added 01 March 2010.
Updated 04 September 2013.