Cover image for Hell's kitchen
Hell's kitchen
Niles, Chris.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Akashic Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
279 pages ; 21 cm
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"Cool, snarly, and hilarious, Hell's Kitchen turns Manhattan over like a rock and let's its phonies, wannabies, conmen, and killers come crawling out. Vicious, funny stuff."
--Andrew Klavan, author of Hunting Down Amanda

Cyrus is a millionaire recluse. Oh, and a serial killer who preys upon apartment hunters in New York City. Armstead Maupin meets Carl Hiaasen in a brilliant black comedy that traces the paths of disparate characters floating through New York, about to collide in a treacherous story that will make you think twice about ever answering a classified ad.

Chris Niles was born in New Zealand, and currently resides in New York. She is the author of a series of mysteries featuring radio reporter Sam Ridley: Spike It, Run Time and Crossing Live .

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Niles presents more than a dozen characters at the beginning of this story and skillfully ties them together by the last scene. The eclectic cast includes serial-killer Cyrus, who places an ad for a sublet to lure desperate, homeless New Yorkers to his apartment; Tye, a Brit who cons people out of their money to survive; Quinn, an irresistible if somewhat irresponsible writer of fortune-cookie fortunes; and fashion designer Renee, who doggedly pursues a lead for her reporter girlfriend in an attempt to salvage their relationship. Niles comments humorously on the absurdity of the television media and America's culture of thinness, but the humor is decidedly black. Although her observations are often on target, the scenes featuring Cyrus at work are rather gruesome, and the contrast between these scenes and the lighter tone that prevails in the rest of the book can be jarring. Still, the novel is fast-paced and the story compelling enough that each short chapter leaves the reader wanting to find out how it will all come together in the end. --Beth Warrell

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Finding an Apartment in New York can be Murder" might have been the tagline of this entertaining, engagingly sloppy comic thriller. The plot centers around Cyrus, a trust fund dilettante turned serial killer who lures desperate New York apartment hunters into his clutches by advertising sublets in the Village Voice. Niles cuts quickly back and forth from an account of Cyrus's descent into madness to the tales of a clutch of prospective "tenants": Quinn, a handsome, perpetually blocked "Black Irish" writer; Tye Fisher, a gorgeous, charmingly criminal woman who has a more mercenary fake sublet scheme of her own; and Gus and Susie Neidermeyer, a young Midwestern couple whose fresh-out-of-college innocence dooms them to an early slaughter. With an investigative role played by Catrina Vermont, an aging TV reporter on the graveyard shift who is assigned to the story, the novel hurtles through New York's high and low society toward a clever if credulity-straining ending. Despite his murderous habits, Cyrus is the least interesting character, a rather perfunctory American Psycho retread. Niles's social satire lacks the stylish bite of that definitive yuppie-serial-killer novel, but also, thankfully, its pretentiousness. Niles writes in a jaunty, colloquial style that moves the action along nicely, but sometimes degenerates into a long string of clich?s. She is at her best with dry, often hilariously over-the-top observations of New York life in general and the rituals of the apartment search in particular; at one point, a well-dressed young woman marches into a grotesque crime scene, stepping over bodies and ignoring the gore-spattered walls as she pulls out her checkbook to inquire, "Three months' deposit okay?" Scenes like this make the novel a fun, breezily grisly read. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

If tongue planted firmly in cheek is your dish, check out this slice of dark comedy by the author of the Sam Ridley mystery series (Spike It). When, in apartment-starved New York City, an ad appears for a "1 BR X-huge studio at a reasonable price," the con artists, wackos, and serial killers start circling. These include a young newlywed couple from Michigan, a blocked "writer" whose latest assignment is the aphorisms found in fortune cookies, a TV news "face" whose ratings have been sagging lately, and a transplanted Brit. The serial killer is a cross between Jeffrey Dahmer and Pepe Le Pew who, while stumbling after his guru down the path to enlightenment, finds time to strew frozen body parts in the freezer sections of local supermarkets. This is one of the few current thrillers that does not include recipes, and it all goes down as painlessly as takeout Chinese. For larger public libraries, where such tangy fare should find a ready audience. Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.