Under Ground (1995) With New Yorkers as status conscious as the Brits, just about every novel about Manhattan these days seems to turn on questions of social class… Fiction Little Brown & Company
Book Review

Under Ground (1995)

EW's GRADE
B+

Details Writer: Michael Daly; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Little Brown & Company

With New Yorkers as status conscious as the Brits, just about every novel about Manhattan these days seems to turn on questions of social class and money. New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly's knowing, tragicomic tale, Under Ground, — about an Irish policeman from Queens whose life turns upside down after he shoots a black teenage mugger to death — is no exception. Instead of feeling like a hero after his near-fatal struggle, Jack Swann feels sympathy for the kid he killed, and absurdly lucky to be alive. A lifelong ''fatso,'' he loses weight, gets in shape, borrows a big wad for a new wardrobe, and starts dropping by the Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel after work instead of Jackie O'Farrell's bar. That arouses the suspicion of the police department's internal affairs division, which figures Swann must have stolen all the cash he's throwing around. Daly may not be a particularly vivid stylist, but he has an anthropologist's knowledge of the city's complex, ever-evolving web of social hierarchies. B+

Originally posted Aug 11, 1995 Published in issue #287 Aug 11, 1995 Order article reprints