Lights Out Summer

Coleridge Taylor Mystery 4

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
288 Pages
Reviewed on 05/16/2017
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (Lights Out Summer, A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).
The first three books have been shortlisted or won awards in the three major competitions for novels from independent presses. A Black Sail was named winner in the mystery category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Drop Dead Punk collected the gold medal for mystery ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.
“Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero,” Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk. A Black Sail received a starred review from Library Journal, which said, “Fans of the late Barbara D’Amato and Bruce DeSilva will relish this gritty and powerful crime novel.”
Zahradnik was a journalist for 25-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast and magazine. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News and The Hollywood Reporter.
Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches kids around the New York area how to write news stories and publish newspapers.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite

Lights Out Summer (Coleridge Taylor Mystery 4) by Rich Zahradnik is a thrilling murder mystery novel set in 1970s New York. The Son of Sam killings have New York on edge. Every news reporter is scrambling for their next big break with the serial killer's story. Everyone, that is, but Coleridge Taylor. Taylor has different ideas about what makes a great news story. He believes in getting to the heart of a story - not just publishing fictitious slush. Although he is now a reporter for a news wire, Taylor finds that his new job gives him the freedom to investigate what he wants. When another Son of Sam killing is discovered, and every other reporter is looking for new leads, Taylor is busy investigating another homicide that took place at the same time; the death of a young black woman in Queens. The young woman's death leads him to some very unlikely places, including Park Avenue. Suddenly faced with more deaths, an upper-crust family's dark secrets, and a city turning against itself, Taylor must make a choice: get lost in the drama or untangle the lies to uncover the story he senses is going to be big. Will he get to the bottom of the story? Or will he become another casualty?

Lights Out Summer (Coleridge Taylor Mystery 4) by Rich Zahradnik is a fascinating and dramatic historical mystery novel. Taylor's character is a little gritty and brutally honest, but so relatable. His sense of ethics and what makes a real story had me falling in love with him from the beginning. Taylor may not be ready to follow the bandwagon, but he certainly does get his story - one way or another! The story he is chasing is so involved, so intertwined that it made me want to read the whole book in one sitting! I loved how the main character is portrayed and the Park Avenue set is so full of secrets and surprises. It kept me guessing! The author's ability to weave his story in and out through so many social classes and so many different situations is refreshing. Although this is the fourth book in the series, I had no trouble jumping into Taylor and Samantha's world. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great murder mystery, is thrilled with news stories, or would relish going back in time to an accurate portrayal of the 1970s.

Darryl Greer

Lights Out Summer is #4 in a series of mystery novels by Rich Zahradnik featuring crime reporter Coleridge Taylor. This episode is set in 1970s New York City at the time of the infamous ‘Son of Sam’ murders. It’s summer and with a serial killer on the loose, the city’s inhabitants are not only feeling warm but nervous. Every reporter in the city, if not the country, is following the police investigation into the murders, taking little interest in crimes, even capital ones, of less notoriety. But that’s not Taylor’s MO. While he maintains a watchful eye on the Son of Sam killings, he takes an interest in a murder that is not garnering much attention — not even from NYC homicide detectives. Martha Gibson is an African American, a Richmond Hill resident, who’d been working as a maid for the wealthy DeVries family in their palatial Park Avenue apartment. Following her overhearing an unusual conversation, she was murdered. Taylor focuses on her background — her family, her acquaintances, as well as the DeVrieses themselves. Each step in his investigation inches him closer to danger himself, but like the proverbial terrier on the trouser cuff, he’s not about to give up. A major blackout in the city hampers his — and the cops’ — investigation, especially when the extensive power failure unleashes a major crime wave in the city’s streets, but Taylor is unrelenting in his search for the truth and when he uncovers it there’s a twist in the tale which even shocks this experienced reporter.

It is refreshing to read a crime novel that isn’t all about some bullet proof investigating police officer. Crime reporters also get close to the action — sometimes too close. Rich Zahradnik knows his stuff — of course, given his 30+ years as a reporter himself. He takes you on a journey as though you’re right by Taylor’s side as each scene unfolds. Lights Out Summer is not one of those stories that is so implausible you are constantly expected to suspend disbelief. Zahradnik has seamlessly woven real people, real places and real events into his novel so that you could almost be reading non-fiction. As an interesting feature, the author has incorporated headlines, as though ripped from the newspapers of the day. Those requiring a touch of romance are not let down as Taylor has an engaging partner, Samantha, an ex-cop who is handy with a gun and who currently works as a private eye. Lights Out Summer is definitely a page turner. You’ll want to quickly get to the end. And you’ll be surprised what you find when you get there.

Jack Magnus

Lights Out Summer: Coleridge Taylor Mystery, Vol. 4 is an historical murder mystery written by Rich Zahradnik. In the early spring of 1977, the New York City papers were boasting lurid headlines about the Co-Ed killer who had been terrorizing the city since July of the previous year. His third victim, Columbia University student, Virginia Voskerichian, was shot in the face as she exited the subway on her way to her home in Queens. The bullet the police had retrieved from the scene was a match to those found at the prior homicides. Mayor Abe Beame and Police Commissioner Michael Codd had presided over the press conference held in Forest Queens two days after Voskerichian’s murder. Taylor, as the representative for the City News Bureau, an independent wire service, was in attendance at the conference, but, unlike the reporters for the Post, News and Times, he did not rush out to alert his boss. A chance encounter with a NYPD detective yielded a story more to Taylor’s interest: on the same night that the Co-Ed killer had struck, a young black woman was shot in the hallway outside her apartment in Richmond Hill, Queens. The City College graduate with a degree in economics and history had been most recently employed as a maid for a wealthy New York family. Taylor wanted to know more about her and why she had been targeted by her killer. As his investigation progressed, he became increasingly determined to find the answer.

Rich Zahradnik’s historical murder mystery, Lights Out Summer: Coleridge Taylor Mystery, Vol. 4, transports the reader back into New York City in the late seventies, when its residents lived in fear of the Son of Sam killer and wondered when he would strike again. His journalist, Coleridge Taylor, who only goes by the name Taylor for reasons that soon become apparent, was the victim of a cruel and despotic alcoholic father whose physical and emotional abuse made his wife and their two sons’ lives hell. When the story opens, Taylor and his girlfriend, Samantha, reluctantly keep a vigil by the side of Taylor’s father’s deathbed; his final passing a relief, and the insulting last will and testament leaving all his worldly goods to a bartender not all that surprising. Taylor is proof that adult children of abusive parents do bear the scars of that early trauma suffered at the hands of those who should have nurtured them, and his attitude towards his profession is honed by the empathy he has for his fellow victims. Rather than pander to the audience for the sensationalist news that sells papers, Taylor sees his purpose as being the witness for the murdered young woman who had had all her life ahead of her. Seeing how he honors her life elevates this book, and the series, far above the typical crime noir novel. Zahradnik gives the reader sufficient background to enable this book to be read as a standalone novel; however, I would strongly recommend that the preceding books be read as well. Each is a gem set in a New York City that was forever changed after the 9/11 attacks. As someone who worked in Manhattan during the years that his stories take place, I can attest to the authenticity of his vision, but I will confess that each book has revealed aspects and parts of the city that were new to me, which is, in itself, a delight. Zahradnik’s plot is absorbing; his writing is a dream to read; and his characters leap off the page as one is reading. Lights Out Summer: Coleridge Taylor Mystery, Vol. 4 is most highly recommended.