Atlantic City's golden age has ended. Once known as the Queen of Resorts frequented by genteel and wealthy members of Philadelphia's leading families, AC had become a summer-long hustle of gypsy fortune-tellers, auction clip joints, and seedy arcades. The town is in the grip of corrupt public officials and organized crime. The passage of casino gambling has ignited a frenzy of greed. Politicians, the mob, and real estate speculators gather like a flock of vultures picking clean the bones of a carcass. One-by-one the grand hotels along the boardwalk are demolished. The discovery of three skeletons buried in the mud walls beneath the rubble of the Marlborough Blenheim Hotel catapults, Jake Harris, an A.C.P.D. detective, back in time to a long-ago summer.
It is the summer Jake falls in love with Michelle Nardo, a dark-haired beauty from Ducktown whose life circumstances are alien to his own. Together they imagine their life together in a different, happier place. Their dream is shattered when Joey Nardo, Michelle's troubled older brother, commits a gruesome murder that sends him to a prison for the criminally insane, and drives Jake and Michelle apart.
Seventeen years later, Jake's pursuit of the killer, or killers of the victims found buried in the tunnel, reunites him with Michelle. His connections to Michelle, and to the Ducktown boys he ran with as a teenager mean he must choose between a cover-up and justice. Risking his career and his freedom, Jake follows the trail of evidence as it twists and turns through a labyrinth of mob killings and corruption. As he attempts to salvage the life he once dreamed they would share, he must confront the horrific events of that summer, and learns the terrible secret Michelle kept from him.
AC is a heartfelt homage to a hometown under siege, a coming-of-age story fraught with violence and insurmountable obstacles to first love—and, a tale of murder, corruption, and greed. Lieberman brings to his readers the profound importance of roots—both of place and family—to who we are and who we become. Perfect for those with memories of pre-casino Atlantic City, AC will be enjoyed by everyone whose hometown lives in their hearts.
"Alan Lieberman's novel brings the same sort of literary excitement and mystery to Atlantic City that Dennis Lehane brings to Boston." Dan Pope, author of Housebreaking, and In the Cherry Tree.