I finished reading Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg last night. Which is really saying something, because I started reading it day before yesterday. And I have a 2-year-old! What a wonderfully fulfilling read it was. Rotenberg is a Toronto criminal defense lawyer, a former magazine editor and a remarkably promising novelist. Old City Hall tells the increasingly convoluted tale of Kevin Brace – the “Voice of Canada” – who is discovered at his front door by his newspaper delivery man early one morning with blood on his hands and the body of his dead common law wife in the bathtub.
Rotenberg wraps his tale in ribbons of character – Detective Ari Greene of Toronto Homicide; Officer Daniel Kennicott – promising lawyer turned cop in the wake of his brother’s murder; defense counsel Nancy Parish; Crown prosecutor Albert Fernandez; and dozens of others – each drawn masterfully, with sure strokes. And behind the bustle of all these people, under the mystery of death and intrigue, good old Toronto pulses.
Rotenberg’s novel will likely do for our fair city what Flashpoint and The Listener have done for her on television. And that is nothing less than give her a deep and abiding character that will keep people coming back for more.
As a final word, I tend to disregard author comments printed on the jackets of new novels. Never again, though, will I make the mistake of underestimating a novel lauded by Kathy Reichs, Andrew Pyper, Nelson DeMille and Jeffery Deaver on the same jacket!