Stephen Solomita Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Stephen Solomita has proven to be a prolific and versatile writer since his first mystery novel, A Twist of the Knife, featuring police officer (later private eye) Stanley Moodrow, appeared in 1988. His work ranges from the extremely gritty and hard-boiled crime story, such as Keeplock (1995), which is told from the point of view of a former convict, to the softer, more traditional mystery, such as Dead Is Forever (2004), which concerns the exploits of a wealthy, aristocratic private investigator in the tradition of C. Auguste Dupin or Philo Vance.

A New Yorker through and through, Solomita’s particular strength is in depicting the city and its multifarious denizens. He is especially adept at sketching street people—prostitutes, pimps, bums, and other assorted lowlifes—and has an ear well tuned to the rhythm and vocabulary of dialogue as it issues from the mouths of people from the dregs to the pinnacles of society.

A critical favorite among fellow hard-boiled writers, Solomita typically receives positive reviews in both domestic and international venues; however, whether as Solomita or David Cray, he has yet to become a household name among general crime readers. Forced Entry (1990), the fourth novel in his Stanley Moodrow series, was selected an Editor’s Choice at Drood Review. The seventh entry in the series, Damaged Goods (1996), was nominated for the Hammett Prize, an award from the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Fletcher, Connie. Review of Little Girl Blue, by Stephen Solomita. Booklist 98, no. 5 (November 1, 2001): 461. This is a favorable review of a Julia Brennan series novel about child slavery and pedophilia. The critic praises the accuracy of procedural details and plot twists, and Solomita’s ability to show the human side of a professional police officer.

Kirkus Reviews. Review of Bad Lawyer, by Stephen Solomita. 68, no. 23 (December 1, 2000): 1631. A favorable review in which the critic notes that the story concerning the efforts of fallen lawyer Sid Kaplan and his assistants to defend accused murderer Priscilla Sweet is “refreshing” and “unsentimental.”

Needham, George. Review of Keeplock, by Stephen Solomita. Booklist 91, no. 10 (January 15, 1996): 898. In this favorable review, the critic mentions that the title is a prison term referring to a convict locked in a cell all day and notes that the novel’s finale is reminiscent of the ending of the 1932 Paul Muni film I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Damaged Goods, by Stephen Solomita. 242, no. 47 (November 20, 1995): 68. This is a favorable review of the sixth Moodrow novel, in which the detective, now past sixty years of age, is hired to find a kidnapped four-year-old girl. The critic called the novel “piercing urban melancholy.”

Stastio, Marilyn. “Crime: A Twist of the Knife.” Review of A Twist of the Knife, by Stephen Solomita. The New York Times Book Review, December 11, 1988, p. 34. This is a mostly favorable review of Solomita’s first published novel, which introduces Stanley Moodrow. While the author is praised for his relentless plot—which involves the detective tracking down terrorists who killed his girlfriend—the critic cautions about the extreme violence.

Wilkins, Mary Frances. Review of What You Wish For, by Stephen Solomita. Booklist 99, no. 8 (December 15, 2002): 737. This favorable review of What You Wish For mentions the plot—a Brennan investigation into the death of an aging, wealthy woman while the lieutenant pursues a relationship with a former police officer—and praises the gritty story in which it is difficult to tell heroes from the villains.