King Zeno

King Zeno


New Orleans, 1918. The birth of jazz, the Spanish flu, an ax murderer on the loose. The lives of a traumatized cop, a conflicted Mafia matriarch, and a brilliant trumpeter converge--and the Crescent City gets the rich, dark, sweeping novel it so deserves.

From one of the most inventive writers of his generation, King Zeno is a historical crime novel and a searching inquiry into man's dreams of immortality.

New Orleans, a century ago: a city determined to reshape its destiny and, with it, the nation's. Downtown, a new American music is born. In Storyville, prostitution is outlawed and the police retake the streets with maximum violence. In the Ninth Ward, laborers break ground on a gigantic canal that will split the city, a work of staggering human ingenuity intended to restore New Orleans's faded mercantile glory. The war is ending and a prosperous new age dawns. But everything is thrown into chaos by a series of murders committed by an ax-wielding maniac with a peculiar taste in music.

The ax murders scramble the fates of three people from different corners of town. Detective William Bastrop is an army veteran haunted by an act of wartime cowardice, recklessly bent on redemption. Isadore Zeno is a jazz cornetist with a dangerous side hustle. Beatrice Vizzini is the widow of a crime boss who yearns to take the family business straight. Each nurtures private dreams of worldly glory and eternal life, their ambitions carrying them into dark territories of obsession, paranoia, and madness.

In New Orleans, a city built on swamp, nothing stays buried long.

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    King Zeno Reviews

  • Meike

    New Orleans in 1918/1919: Jazz is on the rise, construction for the great industrial canal begins, and the city is terrorized by an ax murderer – all of these things really happened, and Nathaniel R...

  • Emily May

    Look, I am a little bit obsessed with New Orleans. A lot of kids while I was growing up fell in love with the romanticism of Paris, the big powerful city of New York, or the beachy glamour of Los Ange...

  • Jarrett

    Challenging to get into at the start with lots of unfamiliar names and separate plots. Read the first 50 pages a few times over before getting into the story. However last 2/3 of the book was great wi...

  • Cindy

    I’m a fan of New Orleans. There’s good and there’s bad but there’s always the magical, especially about the past. Like the primordial swamp, there are layers upon layers, forests upon forests ...

  • nikkia neil

    Thanks Farrar, Straus and Giroux and netgalley for this ARC.King Zeno is like no other book I've read about New Orleans. Its dirty, gritty, and real. This is not glamorous look at jazz, war, or the co...

  • Sam Law

    Set in the New Orleans of the early twentieth century (summer 1918 to be precise), it follows the intertwined tales of three fictional characters, as they navigate the brothels of Storyville, bayous, ...

  • Marge Anderson

    A fun read, especially if you're a NOLA buff. What do a serial killer, a WWI vet with PTSD, and a coronet genius have in common? How does the digging of the Industrial Canal and the Spanish flu epidem...

  • Annie

    Nathaniel Rich’s King Zeno is the second novel I’ve read recently that takes on the Axeman Murders of New Orleans—which is fitting since it’s been a century since the still-unsolved murders we...

  • Kim McGee

    New Orleans 1918A city of new beginnings now that the war is over and the birth of Jazz has begun to catch on or is it a city sliding back into the swamp facing corruption, racial tension and murder? ...

  • Kristine

    King Zeno by Nathaniel Rich is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late January.Mindful, observant, and wiley storytelling of theft, mugging, and ax murders in a New Orleans of 1918, where the polic...