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Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite
“Dead men tell no tales,” but in Last Words (A Coleridge Taylor Mystery) by Rich Zahradnik, that is clearly not the case. While parts of New York City burn and bankruptcy looms, Coleridge Taylor, a police reporter, is demoted to writing obituaries at the Messenger-Telegram. He’s not convinced a homeless teen died from exposure after seeing the body, and conducts an unauthorised investigation revealing that the teen was Declan, the spoilt son of Constable McNally, a city official. The clothes he wore belong to the elusive Mark Voichek, a hobo who Coleridge searches for to get some answers. Coleridge risks his shaky job to investigate, and is assisted by a homeless contact and an attractive colleague, Laura. He becomes the target of thugs and wonders if he will appear in the obituaries instead of writing them.
Last Words (A Coleridge Taylor Mystery) is a wonderful novel by Rich Zahradnik. He gives readers great visuals of New York City in the 1970s: how the Vietnam War changed social and economic conditions in the United States, particularly New York, and the typical lifestyle of the homeless. I always assumed that a tramp, bum and hobo were the same, but the author explains their differences. The story is captivating, and it is obvious from his writing that Rich Zahradnik is familiar with the setting he describes so well. Coleridge and Voichek are likeable, classic characters, and I enjoyed learning Voichek’s hobo language. Last Words is not only entertaining, but also informative about a past era.