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Sunday, September 12, 2021

RRR presents... RAT ISLAND by John Steele - SPOTLIGHT + EXCERPT!

Hi there! 
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. 

Today, we’re shining the BOOK SPOTLIGHT on a title that is a bit more nitty gritty than our usual fare, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy because hey...we all need a bit of mystery, a bit of underhandedness, and a bit of morally compromising decision making at play once in a while, right? Ladies and gents, today’s title in the spotlight and blog tour guest is... 

Rat Island 
John Steele 

About the book... 


New York, 1995. Cop Callum Burke arrives in New York from Hong Kong, drafted in as part of an international investigation into organised crime. 

With the handover of Hong Kong to China only a couple of years away, gangsters are moving their operations out of the territory and into New York ahead of the looming deadline. 

Burke’s experiences with East Asian crime and the Triads’ links to the Irish Mob make him the perfect man to send in undercover. 

But as he infiltrates these vast and lethal criminal networks, bodies start to pile up in his wake and his conscience threatens to send him over the edge. 

And when Burke’s NYPD handlers push him to continue the investigation at all costs, he may have to cross the line from cop to criminal just to stay alive… 

Readers of Don Winslow, Michael Connelly, Steve Cavanagh, Richard Price and John Sandford will love this dark and morally complex novel which presents a searing portrait of mid-1990s New York as you’ve never seen it before. 


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'A nonstop thrill ride... a lyrical, super read filled with plenty of intrigue, action and suspense and sent against an exotic and seldom explored corner of crime fiction' Gerald Posner 

'RAT ISLAND speeds and thrashes with the dangerous energy of the Manhattan streets which are so vividly recalled' Gary Donnelly 

'John Steele writes with grit, pace and authenticity' Claire McGowan 


~~~ EXCERPT ~~~ 

 In this early extract from Rat Island, set in 1995, Irish-born cop Callum Burke has just met his NYPD contemporary, Mike O’Connell. Burke will go undercover with an Irish mob in the city as part of a larger investigation into a heroin pipeline and he studies his targets as he ponders his fate.

Milburn had gone for a piss. O’Connell had stepped out of the room. Callum had grabbed a whiskey from the mini-bar. Bobby Ho had balked.

Callum downed the shot in one. O’Connell walked back in the room.

‘Well, alright,’ said O’Connell. ‘Now daddy’s out of the room, let’s us kids have some fun.’

He gestured to the photocopied sheet tacked on the wall with the mugshots and surveillance photographs of the players they were here to take down.

On top, like the star on the Christmas tree: Tony Lau – 14K Triad Dragon Head. Callum had been avoiding looking at the shot. The last time he’d seen Lau in the flesh, the man had sworn to kill him. Lau had declared his blood vendetta, not with words, but with Triad hand signs. He would be in Hong Kong, picked up by the RHKP when the rest went down.

The first row of pictures below Lau were players from Lau’s large faction of the 14K Triad.

The third row showed members of the Hip Sing Tong Association from New York Chinatown, including the leader, Sammy Ong, and his closest advisor, Papa Ng.

O’Connell pointed at Bobby Ho.

‘These are the guys you’ll be listening to. Some real-time taps, some recordings. We got a place for you on Mott Street to observe the Tong Headquarters, too. Stay well away from these psychos, though.’

He cocked a thumb at the row below. The Flying Dragons street gang from Chinatown, the Tong’s homicidal muscle.

O’Connell tucked his thumbs in his belt, pushed out his chest and gave Callum a shit-eating grin as he cocked his head toward the bottom row of photographs as though revealing the prize on a gameshow.

‘And these assholes are gonna be your new best friends, Burke. Say hello to The Walsh Crew.’

Callum looked at the New York Irish mob. The leader, Fintan Walsh. Jimmy Mulligan, the right-hand man, and others. At the end of the row was Paddy Doolan.

O’Connell said, ‘You boys ready to go to work?’

Callum scanned the pictures again. The crazy-paddy mugshots of the Irish. The hair-slicked, comic book sneers of the Flying Dragons street gang. The surveillance photographs of the Hip Sing Tong men.

Were someone to pin the cops’ shots on the opposite wall, they’d follow the same order of importance, he thought. The feds at the top; then the NYPD and Milburn. Below them, Bobby Ho, vital for his language skills.

And at the bottom, Callum. His was the dirtiest, shit-end-of-the-stick deal in the whole game.

Callum knew to build a Federal racketeering RICO case in the US, law enforcement needed a lot of evidence. The DEA and NYPD team had already been working the case for months. Now Bobby Ho was in place to help transcribe the Tong wiretaps. But they needed more on the Irish crew. The Walsh outfit were the potential weak link. If the task force could build a solid racketeering case against the Irish, they’d have some insurance.

While the biggest, head-in-the-clouds target was Tony Lau, the Dragon Head, the Triads were far too cautious – had too many resources with which to distance themselves from the heroin trail in New York.

The US Tong operated in a closed society. The hope was that Bobby Ho could accrue enough to prosecute but it was a huge ask.

But bust the Irish and prove a connection, and the task force could prosecute the Chinese through association. At least, that was the theory.

Paddy Doolan, last mugshot on the row of Walsh Crew photographs, was a hanger-on who grew up with the top men in the old neighborhood. He was erratic, a romantic, and a sucker for a pilgrim from the old country come to America to make his way. Callum would turn up, another Irishman trying his luck in the Big Apple, and hope Doolan would bite and take to him.

Then, once undercover, Callum would push to get work with the Walsh crew and pray no one took a bite out of him with a .44.


About the author... 

John Steele was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1995, at the age of twenty-two he travelled to the United States and has since lived and worked on three continents, including a thirteen-year spell in Japan. Among past jobs he has been a drummer in a rock band, an illustrator, a truck driver and a teacher of English. He now lives in England with his wife and daughter. He began writing short stories, selling them to North American magazines and fiction digests. He has published three previous novels: RAVENHILL, SEVEN SKINS and DRY RIVER, the first of which was longlisted for a CWA Debut Dagger award. John’s books have been described as ‘Remarkable’ by the Sunday Times, ‘Dark and thrilling’ by Claire McGowan, and ‘Spectacular’ by Tony Parsons. The Irish Independent called John ‘a writer of huge promise’ and Gary Donnelly appointed him ‘the undisputed champion of the modern metropolitan thriller’. 


Special thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to bring this tour to you. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, this promotion, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now, so click on over to your favorite online retailer to snag your copy today and be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

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