Adultery, three murders, a revenge driven madman, rogue cops and politicians intertwine in this noir thriller that defines urban corruption.
WINNER - 2020 ELITE CHOICE AWARD Noir Fiction
WINNER - 2020 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD General Fiction
WINNER - 2020 READER VIEWS LITERARY AWARDFIRST PLACE - Mystery /Thriller
WINNER - 2020 READER'S FAVORITE SILVER MEDAL FICTION-CRIME
FINALIST - 2020 International Book Award General Fiction
FINALIST - 2020 American Fiction Award Mystery/Thriller Multicultural & Diversity
2020 NOTABLE 100 Book Shelf Unbound Best Indie Books
Honorable Mention Fiction: Novel Royal Dragon Book Award
4-Star Clarion Foreword Review
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Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The three victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul.
It didn’t take long for Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, two veteran homicide cops, to realize they were in over their heads as they grappled with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. The three murders could not have come at a worse time for Cisco. His wife, Connie, had left him, and his close-knit Catholic family had disowned him because of his affair with his lover, Grace.
To add to the chaos, Cisco learned that he could have another homicide on his plate. Father Terry Nolan cornered Cisco at the city morgue and demanded his help. The senior counsel for M.L. Kraus, manufacturer of the poisonous gas Zyklon B, and his German wife were severely beating a Catholic orphan they were seeking to adopt. The Archdiocese had weighed Kraus’ huge cash contributions against a helpless girl’s plight and did nothing.
Kraus, facing a host of war crime indictments in Germany, was fighting for its massive pre-war chemical holdings in New Jersey. A federal court in Newark would soon decide Kraus’ fate. The outcome of the case would have a bearing not only on Kraus’ future, but Europe’s as well. Watching it all from the banks of the Passaic River was the dark specter of a murderous madman seeking further revenge.
The book ends when a police interloper becomes an unlikely hero when he kills two would-be assassins who had been recruited by the mesmeric madman to carry out the ultimate
Clarion Foreword Review Rating: 4 out of 5
With its instances of violence, hatred, and vengeance, Payback is a classically styled detective novel that contains messages about healing wide and open wounds.
Steve Bassett’s Payback is a haunting mystery novel about love, hate, and revenge.
Living in blue collar, 1940s New Jersey and working along the Passaic River are two hard-nosed police detectives, Nick Cisco and Kevin McClosky. When two mutilated corpses are fished out of the river, and the detached arm of a third victim is found in the garbage, they are on the case. They learn that all three victims belonged to the German-American Bund, a pro-Nazi movement situated in the US before the country’s entrance into WWII.
Then, Cisco is dragged into another gruesome case involving a child. A priest tells Cisco that the child was an orphan and was set to be adopted by a controversial magnate, M. L. Kraus. Kraus, much like the three dead men, has a connection to the Nazi regime: he helped to manufacture Zkylon B.
As much a sociological examination as it is a murder mystery, the novel follows Cisco and McClosky as they walk the mean streets of Newark and other industrial towns along the Passaic River. Their perambulations bring focus to divided, tension-filled New Jersey in the immediate aftermath of the war. While thousands of families mourn the loss of their sons on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, and while those who survived the war try to reclaim their jobs, Cisco and McClosky encounter situations rife with racial agitation. The moral issues associated with pursuing justice for dead Nazis are invoked within the otherwise straightforward police procedural.
Though it is the second volume of a trilogy, the novel functions well as a standalone. Its crimes are original, and it places enough focus and attention on Cisco and McClosky to equip audiences new to the series to understand them well. Every chapter includes important details regarding the triple homicide. And though the novel’s beginning, which focuses on details not important to the central story, drags, the book concludes on a high note, with one solved case and a strong indication that more is in store for detectives Cisco and McClosky. Still, not all of this novel’s villains face the extreme justice that audiences may crave.
With instances of hatred, violence, and vengeance, Payback is a classically styled detective novel that contains messages about healing, even the healing of wounds that are open and wide.
Reviewed by Benjamin Welton, June 25, 2020
Payback, Steve Bassett’s new book, is even better than the award-winning Father Divine’s Bikes. Bassett is agile and spry, moving quickly from one scene to the next and he has a way of distilling the essence of a character in just a phrase or two: “a tall blonde, blue-eyed Prussian lawyer with the rare ability to combine vapidity and arrogance without a hint of apology.” These are characters that suck you in and hold your attention because you know what makes them tick.
Christine White, Author Uniquely Felt
The message behind the murders in Payback is clear. Add in some racial tension, corporate greed, sexual dalliances, a marriage on the ropes, child abuse, gangsters, mind control, a mysterious madman, and a corrupt church – and you end up with an INTENSE drama that will keep you reading well into the night.
Sheri Hoyt for Reader Views
Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is one of the most intense action thrillers I have ever read. Set in 1940s Newark, the story takes us on a tension-filled journey of murder and revenge, from the atrocities of Nazi Germany to a putrid, rotten river in Newark.
Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorites.
This novel is so beautifully written, with subplots that introduce exciting characters, strong political themes, family dynamics, and the internal crisis going on in the life of one of the key characters. Steve Bassett creates characters that readers can easily identify with and weaves reality into the writing.
Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorites
Action-packed, intense and very well developed, the story had me hooked from the opening scene….I enjoyed the pace and I especially enjoyed the development of the story. It is a riveting story that gives you everything you crave from crime fiction.
Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
As demonstrated in his first book, Steve Bassett knows how to write. He also knows how to weave all the elements of a good story into a great book. I loved these characters. I loved many of them because they are rare. That is, they are rarely written about.
Ray Simmons for Readers Favorite