How would you like to wander around Jazz Age New York, smoking in a trench coat and rubbing elbows with bootleggers, Avant Garde poets and corrupt politicians? Unfortunately time travel hasn’t yet been perfected, but W.M. Akers might have delivered the next best thing — his debut novel, “Westside,” on sale now from Harper Voyager, is a portal into the seedy underworld of a re-imagined 1921 New York, with mystery, magic and a smoky film-noir sensibility.
In “Westside,” Manhattan is split by a 13-mile fence running north and south the length of Broadway. On one side is the prosperous, glimmering Eastside. On the other, a hostile wasteland where the down and out go to get lost. Private eye Gilda Carr straddles both worlds, solving mundane mysteries for the Eastside elites — mysteries that have a way of snowballing into something more sinister. Following in the footsteps of her late father, Gilda must confront the evil lurking on both sides of the fence or be destroyed by it.
W.M. Akers is a Brooklyn-based playwright, editor for “Narratively” and designer of the popular “Deadball: Baseball with Dice” game. “Westside” is his first novel.