Enemies of All (The Dan Brady Mysteries Book 1) by Edward J. Leahy
Guest Post + Book & Author Info
Don’t miss any posts on publishing. Click the link here.
Enemies of All
“Tightly plotted with break-neck pacing, Leahy’s immersive historical crime drama, Enemies of All, is a winner!” –James L’Etoile, award-winning author of Black Label, Dead Drop, and the Detective Penley series
In the early 1940s, NYPD Dan Brady, an Irish immigrant who, as a boy in Dublin ran messages for the Sinn Fein, is working on a string of anti-Semitic assaults when he catches a murder case of a Bronx Sunday School teacher by a serial rapist. He soon discovers the rapist’s pattern of hitchhiking into and out of the city and pioneers a process of cooperation with the FBI and other police departments to conduct a dragnet from Louisiana to New England.
Danny expands his cooperation with the FBI to include the anti-Semitic crimes, particularly burglaries, which he suspects are part of a larger effort to disrupt the war effort. The police commissioner authorizes him to coordinate the investigations of all such suspicious crimes in the city, and when a high school chemistry lab is burglarized of ingredients for high explosives, he realizes he is looking for a ring of potential saboteurs. When the FBI reports Nazi agents having landed on Eastern Long Island, Danny finds himself in a race against time to prevent a major bomb attack.
Based on true events.
To purchase Enemies of All, click on the following link: Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, & Black Rose Writing
Guest Post with Edward J. Leahy, author of Enemies of All
The Challenges of Historical Police Research
There is a scene in the film “French Kiss” in which Luc (Kevin Kline) is showing Kate (Meg Ryan) an old school project at his childhood home, the family vineyard in what is presumably the Rhone Valley in south-central France. He offers Kate a glass of wine and asks her to describe it, which she can only do superficially. The school project is a collection of small bottles, each containing samples of local plant life—currant, lavender, rosemary—which he has her smell and identify.
She takes another sip of the wine and tastes a hint of currant, then of lavender. Luc explains that the plants represented in the bottles are all around the vineyard, and that they all influence the taste of the wine. A little wine shop in my neighborhood includes on each display bottle a hand-written note describing the hints of flavors within, so this is not a notion created for the film.
I’m not much for romantic comedies, but I love that scene. It resonates with me because my writing is the same way, and probably is for most writers. Everything I see, hear, and experience influences it, and various aspects of my life pop up in the most unexpected places in my Kim Brady Mystery Series, much as the currant and lavender pop up in Luc’s family’s wine. My accounting past raises its head in Past Grief, as Leanne and a coworker are tasked with a difficult project similar to one I worked early in my career, and a comment my stepdad, who was a police sergeant, once made about a high-speed car chase appears in the chase scene near the end. The entire series is littered with places I’ve been in the city, things I’ve experienced, people I’ve known, facts I’ve absorbed.
When I decided to launch my new series based on Kim’s grandfather, Dan, with Enemies of All, set in the early 1940s, I had a major problem. Most of my knowledge base no longer applied. Writing a police procedural from the past required a different kind of research.
Most of the current restraints on police procedures didn’t exist. But many of the current techniques of investigation also weren’t available, and not just the obvious ones like DNA analysis. Police departments didn’t share information with each other or with the FBI (in fact, Enemies of All examines the first attempts to remedy that). Fingerprints were kept in hard-copy files. Ballistics analysis and wiretaps were evolving.
There is also no direct way to determine what the command structure was in the NYPD in the 1940s, and even the locations of specific precincts can be hard to pin down. True crime stories from the past and local historical pieces are helpful in piecing things together. It was just by luck that I discovered the building that is now home to the NYPD’s Bronx SRG unit originally housed the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, Dan Brady’s precinct. I knew I was on safe ground with the location of the 108th Precinct building in Hunters Point, since I’ve walked past it several times and it’s obviously very old, but it was nice to find a historical article about Long Island City that confirmed it.
The New York Times has an archive that is enormously helpful with some historical background, and I was able to use it for local news that helped set the tone of the city during the war, but it rarely had anything on local crime stories. Long-established newspapers may have similar resources in other cities. There are also some books out there on life on the “home front” during the war, and these, too, were helpful.
Much of what I needed, outside of specifics about policing, was in the realm of scene-setting, a sense of the time. I did web searches on everything from popular modes of dress, food and gasoline rationing, and the release dates of films to the best restaurants and dance clubs and the ongoing debate over blackout regulations.
I also discovered that, from 1939 to 1941, New York City and the Works Progress Administration partnered on a project to photograph for property tax purposes every private building in the five boroughs of New York City. This collection has since been digitized and is searchable online, using either street addresses or block and lot numbers. Not every address is searchable, but I was able to get plenty of ideas for settings.
So, it can be done. Good luck and good hunting.
Edward J. Leahy is a retired tax accountant living in Jackson Heights, New York.
A life-long New Yorker, he enjoys taking advantage of all the city has to offer with his wife, Cindy, spinning stories of crimes past and present, with the city-that-never-sleeps serving as a character and their favorite restaurants as scenes.
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery
The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook.
Header image by Bones 64 on Pixabay