Set in 1918 in Manhattan, Justin Reed’s historical novel However Long the Day follows two young men who switch identities.
Niall is an Irish immigrant whose world turns upside down when he trades places with his doppelgänger, Frederick. Frederick is a wealthy scoundrel; Niall is a poor ice delivery man who wants to earn some extra cash to help his uncle. Their switch is only supposed to last for one night, but Niall is soon subject to danger and intrigue because of it.
Mistaken for Frederick, Niall is kidnapped from Frederick’s room, drawn into Frederick’s schemes, and exposed to the corrupt underbelly of New York City. Both Niall and Frederick, along with their inner circles, become enmeshed in a complex heist that reveals a more sinister crime ring. That criminal scheme reaches into the highest levels of New York society.
The story opens with excitement, as the lookalike men trade places. Its momentum is maintained through engaging actions that hum from one to the next. Period details—as of the Spanish flu, the imminent threats posed by Prohibition, and the struggles of new immigrants and poor people—make for an intriguing background to the complicated plot. But the cast is large, and there are multiple twists; Niall and Frederick’s switch is sometimes overwhelmed. Further, what motivates people in their personal enterprises is not always clear; some plot points are belabored.
Still, this a story that ably delves into the complex relationships that exist within families, as well as in between different classes, genders, and ethnic groups. This helps to make However Long the Day an entertaining crime caper set in an immersive period in New York City.
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