This image is the cover for the book Midnight Band of Mercy

Midnight Band of Mercy

This bizarre mystery based on real historical events is “an entertaining romp through New York of the 1890s” (The Washington Post).

In 1893, Max Greengrass is a stringer for the New York Herald, paid by the column inch. With no regular salary, Max must hustle for his stories, and late one night he nearly trips over one. He finds four cats lined up neatly on a Greenwich Village sidewalk. They have no visible wounds, but are undeniably dead.

The story makes the paper and Max pursues it, from low dives to posh mansions, from a proper if eccentric society of refined ladies concerned about the suffering of stray felines, to a bizarre conspiracy of churchly landlords and respected insurers who are getting rich by exploiting the misery of others. And it doesn’t stop there. The facts he uncovers suggest dark ideas Max can barely contemplate, arousing suspicions that terrify him. He goes to meet a source in a deserted saloon, only to find the man as dead as the cats that started it all. Soon his worst fears come to life. The story Max is stalking now stalks him.

Michael Blaine

Michael Blaine was assistant professor of English at the City University of New York. His novel The Desperate Season was widely praised. His fiction, for which he has won numerous awards (including the New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction Writing, twice), has appeared in leading literary magazines. He currently lives in upstate New York with his wife, the artist Rose Mackiewicz.