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Exchange Alley: Take a Walk On the Wild Side — If You Dare


My first novel, Exchange Alley, is now up on Kindle and can be yours for the special introductory price of just 99 cents. Such a deal — especially when used paperback copies are being offered on Amazon for up to $688.88.

The original hardback cover

A Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection upon its publication in 1997, and the recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly, Exchange Alley (for reasons that will become clear as you read) has become something of a cult novel. In it, I introduced the character of Lt. Francis X. Byrne, the hot-tempered detective who catches a grisly murder case that, literally, changes his entire world. Frankie became so popular with readers that I brought him back last year (and promoted him to Captain) in Early Warning, where he battles against a spectacular terrorist attack on Times Square, and I suspect he’ll turn up again in another novel very soon.

I first got the idea of writing Exchange Alley during my various trips to the Soviet Union, beginning in 1986 (I was in country when Chernobyl blew up) and continuing right up to its dissolution in 1991. At the same time, I was deeply fascinated by the Kennedy Assassination, which I recalled vividly from my boyhood. So, as writers do, I thought: what if?

What if the KGB’s file on Lee Harvey Oswald, which has never been made public, was stolen by a rogue KGB agent operating under deep cover in the U.S. and made available to the highest bidder?

What if the interested parties included the Mafia, the CIA and the FBI?

What if Frankie’s brother, Tom, was an FBI agent and deeply involved with the case?

What if Frankie and Tom hate each other?

What if there’s a family secret that stretches all the way back to World War II and the Holocaust?

And what if the Russian agent — who goes by the name of Egil Ekdahl — is dead in the very first chapter, the victim of what at first appears to be an impossible crime?

Well, you can imagine the hilarity that ensues.

Publishers Weekly said:

The final 100 pages of this book offer a series of explosive surprises, from the identity of Ekdahl’s killer to the truth about Byrne’s own heritage. There isn’t much Walsh doesn’t know about the JFK assassination, and the background research for this virtuoso novel feels thorough. Weaving from the worst of the Russian prison camps to Manhattan’s elite European demimonde, from Brighton Beach’s vicious Russian mobs to Little Italy’s complacently murderous families, Walsh orchestrates a gripping tale of the horrors that were set in motion the day a president was murdered.

And that’s how Exchange Alley came about. I’ve published four more novels since, with another three under contract (continuing the “Devlin” series), but I’ll likely never write a book as technically complex and downright weird as this one.

So be warned: Exchange Alley is not for the squeamish. Violent, sexy and wildly politically incorrect, it probably wouldn’t even get published today. There’s something in it to offend and frighten just about everybody. But I love it the way a dad loves his first born, and I hope you will too.

Attention producers — this is the only one of my novels for which the movie rights are still available!

Excerpts tomorrow. Come prepared. You’ve been warned…

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