Mysteries Set in Rochester
The Killing Cards (2000, Mystery hardcover)
First in a series of crime thrillers set in Rochester featuring Lt. Mike Amato, homicide investigator of the Rochester Police Department. Amato’s investigations lead all over the city, to such places as Midtown Mall and Genesee Valley Park. The author was born and raised in Rochester; twenty-two years of police work informs his storytelling.
Campanozzi worked on narcotics, homicide, and robbery cases for the RPD, and was District Commander on the city’s west side. Follow Lt. Amato’s stories further in Ground Lions (2000) and Justice (2003). For more about the author and series see: Morrell, Alan. D&C, October 4, 2003, Local State, p. 3B.
Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Still-Unsolved Rochester Brink’s Heist (2017, Non-Fiction 364.1552 CRA)
On the evening of January 5, 1993, the Brink’s armored car depot in Rochester was robbed of $7.4 million – weighing in as one of the biggest heists in Western New York history. Was it an inside job? Reporter Gary Craig’s ongoing investigation is detailed in this fascinating account. The author is a member of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle’s watchdog team, focusing on public safety and criminal justice. For more information see: Review by Dan Herbeck
The Cost of Living (1997, Fiction hardcover)
A dramatic, philosophical novel that weaves life and politics in a corporate advertising agency into the broad world of business, white collar crime, and street crime. Richard Cahill, a sensitive, stressed-out middle-aged account executive, reaches a crossroads. The story unfolds in the Rochester area, in local hospitals and neighborhoods. Don’t miss Cahill’s observations on Rochester’s character in Chapter 3. This is the only novel by David Dorsey, a Gannett and Associated Press award-winning journalist.
For more background see: Review by Alan Webber. Also see reviews in Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, and Kirkus Reviews.
Folklore and Legends of Rochester: The Mystery of Hoodoo Corner and Other Tales (2011, Non-Fiction 398.2097 KEE)
Some time before 1900, the name “hoodoo corner” became attached to the intersection of Main and Elm streets in Rochester’s center city: How? Why? Author Michael Keene delves into the mystery, uncovering layers of legends and events amid the religious and social forces that were alive in 18th and 19th century Rochester. Glacial formations, erosion, Native American paths and burial grounds, a busy inn/tavern, the Erie Canal, Freemasons, a kidnapping, a murder, a curse, Evangelists, Abolitionists, and Spiritualists – it’s all part of the history of the city and one of its major intersections. For plot summary and author info see: Spotlight on Authors: Rochester Writers D&C, November 6, 2011, Living, p. 9C.
Mobtown (2002, Fiction hardcover)
This pulp-fiction style crime novel takes place in Rochester during the summer of 1959. Hard core detective Ike Van Savage mixes with gangsters and tracks down a murderer while protecting his 10-year old daughter. Throughout are detailed descriptions of local venues: the action moves quickly from nightclubs to diners and neighborhoods, to Durand Beach, Winton Road, and Ellison Park. Also try Line of Sight (2000) by the same author. For an informative review see: Spevak, Jeff. D&C, January 4, 2002, Rochester Living, pp. 1C, 6C. Also see reviews in Library Journal, Booklist, New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, and People Magazine.
Eagles Die Too (1992, Mystery hardcover)
Fourth in a Rochester-based mystery series featuring lively investigative reporter Jessica “Jessie” James, who can pick locks and fire an automatic rifle as the situation requires. Author Meg O’Brien lived in Rochester while she penned the Jessie James Mysteries -- the first books she published before becoming a bestselling author. Look for comments about Rochester weather, local businesses, and descriptions of settings such as Genesee Park Boulevard, Highland Park, and Irondequoit Bay. Start with The Daphne Decisions (1990), then read Salmon in the Soup (1990), Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow (1991), and finally, Eagles Die Too (1992).
For more background see: Author website. Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews
Phillip Tomasso III
Third Ring (2001, Fiction hardcover)
A fast-paced mystery thriller, laced with dark sorcery and supernatural encounters. Private eye Nick Tartaglia, “the one and only,” pursues a case from the Monroe County Prison in Henrietta, to Greece, Spencerport, and Brockport; to High Falls and the tunnels in its underlying bedrock; from Lake Avenue to Pittsford, and back to the old subway bed near the courthouse. Author Phillip Tomasso’s plot twists reflect those of his favorite television show, the Twilight Zone. All told, Tomasso has written five thrillers set in Rochester: Tenth House (2001), Mind Play (2000), Johnny Blade (2002) and Adverse Impact (2003). For more background see: Spevak, Jeff. D&C, January 4, 2002, Rochester Living, pp.1C, 6C. Ritter, Carol D&C, February 16, 2000, Towns & Villages, p 3B. Interview with Lorie Ham at: www.suite101.com
Read more books about local legends and ghosts written by Emerson Klees, Shirley Cox Husted, Dwayne Claud, or Mason Winfield. Try some “cozy mysteries” by Claudia Bishop, Miriam Grace Monfredo, and Stephen F. Wilcox, all set in the Rochester area and Finger Lakes region.