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Dorothy Uhnak

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Dorothy Uhnak (April 24, 1933 - July 8, 2006) “was an American novelist. Before becoming a novelist, she worked for 14 years as a detective for the New York City Transit Police Department. Uhnak was born in New York, New York.

Uhnak's debut book, The Bait (1968), received a 1969 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel (in a tie with E. Richard Johnson's Silver Street). The Bait was also made into a 1973 made-for-television film of the same title. Her most famous novel is The Ledger, which was adapted for the TV film and series Get Christie Love! starring Theresa Graves.

Uhnak died July 8, 2006 in Greenport, New York, reportedly of a deliberate drug overdose that may have been suicidal.” (Martin, D. New York Times, July 12, 2006)

Dorothy Uhnak was the author of Law and Order; Victims; The Ledger; Policewoman; The Investigation; The Witness; The Ryer Avenue Story; Bait; False Witness; and, Codes of Betrayal.

According to the book description of Law and Order, “From 1937 to the 1970s the NYPD owned the New York City streets, and the Irish owned the NYPD. Officers ruled their beat, fighting crime the way they wanted, and bending the law to take what they could. There was only one rule— look after your own. When Sergeant Brian O’Malley’s prostitute lover pushes him out of a window, his friends in the police cover up the details and give him a hero’s funeral. His eldest son is encouraged to join the boys in the force, but as he rises the ranks he realizes that all favors must be repaid, whatever the repercussions.”

A reader of Law and Order remarked, “I liked it a lot. It is the story of three generations on the NYPD. It did slow down a bit on some of the character backgrounds but then speeded up again. If Cop stories are your thing then I give it 4 stars. It would make a great movie.”

Kirkus Reviews said of Codes of Betrayal, “A New York City cop whose Irish relatives have been killed by the Mafia branch of the family vows revenge--even though it means he'll get pulled every which way from here to next week. Hours after attending his great-grandfather Nicholas Ventura's 75th birthday party in Westbury, Peter O'Hara, 12, is shot dead during a petty drug quarrel his cousin Sonny had with some independent dealers in Chinatown. Peter's father, Det. Nick O'Hara, is devastated by his son's death--and even more devastated when his cop uncle Frank O'Hara tells him that the story Papa Ventura told him about Peter's death was just a whitewash of Sonny, and that 30 years ago, Papa had ordered Nick's own father killed when he witnessed a fatal scene on a city construction site. It's time for revenge on the Venturas, Frank urges Nick. But first Uhnak (The Ryer Avenue Story, 1993, etc.), not content to leave Nick deadened with grief over his son's death and his grandfather's treachery, has to plunge him further into despair by packing him off on a botched robbery that leaves him struggling in the clutches of the DEA--and all the more ready to rebound to the Ventura fold, now as a government informer. Nick's betrayal of his grandfather is complicated not only by his affair with Papa's spoiled darling, manipulative fashion-designer Laura Santalvo (who has her own drug-soaked secrets to hide), but by the elaborate introduction of dozens of figures--Papa's widowed sister Ursula, loyal retainer Tommy the Dog Bianco, Nick's longtime antagonist Funzy Gennaro, Junior Caniello, Esq.--who pop up and then get disappeared, as if by the Mafia. Coupled with Uhnak's telegraphic prose, it's enough to make the whole series of triple-crosses read like a treatment for an even longer story--a television mini-series, maybe--that could dramatize Nick's never-all-that-divided loyalties against the full range of characters tantalizingly sketched in here.”

A reader of Codes of Betrayal said, “Nick O'Hara is a good New York City cop whose sole vice is gambling. The only flaw in Nick's record is the occupation of his beloved grandfather, Nicholas Ventura, an aging Mafia Don. When Nicholas pleads to see Peter, his great-grandson, on the occasion of the old man's seventy-fifth birthday, Nick reluctantly allows the lad to attend the Little Italy San Gennaro Festival. While in nearby Chinatown, Peter is killed during a shoot-out.

The senseless death of his son leads to the destruction of Nick's life. He knows the identity of his son's murderer, but is impotent to act on the information. His wife leaves him and his gambling goes out of control, leading to large losses. Desperate, he tries to steal drug money to pay off his debts, but is caught by the DEA. He is offered a deal. Either spend the next two decades behind bars or sell out his grandfather, the man he ultimately holds responsible for the collapse of his life.

No one describes the mean streets and various cultures of New York City quite like Dorothy Uhnak. Her latest novel,CODES OF BETRAYAL, brings to life various ethnic lifestyles and neighborhoods like no one else can, turning them into the stars of the novel. Though the story line is well written, Nick does not generate reader empathy and the denouement of his complex problems avoids answering the more difficult question of ethics and morality. Still, fans of police procedurals will not feel betrayed by this book.”

Codes of Betrayal
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
The Ryer Avenue Story
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
Law and Order: A Novel
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
The Ledger
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
Dorothy uhnak  More Info
The Investigation
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
The witness
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
Law and Order
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
Victims: A Novel
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info
False Witness
Dorothy Uhnak  More Info

According to the book description of The Witness, “Christie Opara, the only woman on the D.A.'s Special Investigation Squad, is assigned by her boss to shadow his daughter to a civil rights demonstration. An ugly group of hecklers soon turns the demonstrators into a riot and someone gets shot. A cop with a bewildered look on his face, stands over the body with revolver in hand. It was an unnecessary killing. The crowd and the public cries for the cop's blood in the days to come. Only Christie, who was standing next to the cop, saw another person do the actual shooting. Now to find the real murderer before matters get totally out of hand.”

One reader of False Witness said, “one of the best mysteries ever written. I came across this book at a friend’s house and I found a copy at a book sale. The story is about the brutal attack on a popular television personality and the circumstances surrounding the case. I don't want to say to much about this book, because I don't want to give to much away. But all I can say is that this one of the best mysteries ever written. The characters are compelling and the story unfolds at a white knuckle pace. So if you see this book read pick it up, you won't regret it!”

The Library Journal said of The Ryer Avenue Story, “On a winter's night in 1935, six Bronx children flee after a local drunk and child molester is felled by blows from his own shovel. Later, the miscreant father of one of the children confesses and is executed for the crime; the children swear never to speak of what they believe really happened. Years pass, and the now-adult survivors find they must confront the event again. Lives, careers, families, and more are in grave jeopardy as one of their own plots revenge. Veteran crime novelist Uhnak ( False Witness , LJ 7/81) has crafted a powerful, compelling story of guilt, truth, friendship, and family that should command a wide, lasting readership.”

One reader said of The Ryer Avenue Story “The experience of reading this book proves the veracity of the old adage, "Good things come to those who wait." The Ryer Avenue Story is a saga that spans about four decades and reaches beyond a murder at its center toward greater truths about family, guilt, and ambition. It is an excellent book and perhaps Uhnak's best to-date. Although The Ryer Avnenue Story is not a fast read, it holds your interest from beginning to end and has a variety of well-developed, believable characters that will stay in your memory well after you finish the book. Do yourself a favor and try to find a copy of this book -- I think you'll enjoy The Ryer Avenue Story very much.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of Victims, “The author of bestselling novels and the factual Policewoman, Uhnak presents another potentially popular crime story. The narrative, which recalls the case of Kitty Genovese, begins when neighbors do nothing to help Anna Grace as they see her fatally stabbed. Arriving at the murder site in Queens, beautiful, brainy detective Miranda Torres meets journalist Mike Stein, who views the case as his chance to make headlines by exposing the heartless onlookers. Stein and Torres become lovers when she is ordered by police brass to get involved with his investigation, which results in scorching articles about Anna's "second murderers." From this straightforward, titillating beginning, the plot segues into near-fantastical twists. The killing of two airline stewardesses, attacks on a woman who resembles the first victim and other elements are improbable at best. Stein goes along with a coverup by the police when developments cast doubt on the sensational reports that promise him fame and fortune. Only incorruptible Detective Torres keeps seeking truth, putting herself in a trap set by an untouchable crime kingpin. Although it strains belief, Uhnak's latest will probably appeal strongly to thriller fans.”

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