Opening to glitz and glamour in the early 20th century, the Charlesgate Hotel was a crown jewel in the city of Boston. By 1946 however, it was home to some less than savory characters. When a card game featuring some of Boston’s most notorious criminals gets upended and looted, those responsible find themselves in the unenviable position of having to pay back the man they stole from. Years later, when the hotel had become a dormitory for Emerson College, one of the students working for the school newspaper decides to dig into the building’s past and investigate the aforementioned crime. Jumping ahead nearly thirty years, a detective is tasked with investigating a murder in the Charlesgate, now a suite of high-end luxury condos.
Is that confusing? I hope it isn’t. Scott Von Doviak’s Charlesgate Confidential finds a thread running through nearly seventy years of history weaving it in and out of the lives of those taking residence in the old Boston building. Jumping from era to era to era through concurrent chapters, Von Doviak crafts an intriguing mystery keeping me glued to the pages for long stretches of time. I think I read this one in two days? It definitely lends itself to the definition of a page-turner, which was surprising to me as I’m usually not a big fan of multiple timelines with multiple characters within one narrative.
I will say that I found the present day portion of the book the least interesting of the three plot lines. I understand the need for it to tie everything together, but I didn’t find it quite as interesting as the 40s or 80s eras. Also, with the ’46 and ’86 years, Von Doviak had tied in infamous Boston Red Sox world series appearances as the backdrop, whereas in the 2014 section, the Sox already had a few championships under their belts and the luster had vanished, losing a little bit of that charm.
A modern entry from the publishing house, Charlesgate Confidential is another good bit of pulp from the fine folks at Hard Case Crime and one I hope to revisit someday.