Motherless Brooklyn, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


Lionel Essrog, a.k.a. the Human Freakshow, is a victim of Tourette's syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to shout out nonsense, touch every surface in reach, rearrange objects).

Local tough guy Frank Minna hires the adolescent Lionel and three other orphans from St Vincent's Home for Boys and grooms them to become the Minna Men, a fly-by-night detective-agency-cum-limoservice.

Then one terrible day Frank is murdered, and Lionel must become a real detective.

With crackling dialogue, a dazzling evocation of place, and a plot which mimics Tourette's itself in its freshness and capacity to shock, Motherless Brooklyn is a bravura performance: funny, tense, touching, and extravagant.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Thriller / suspense
  • ISBN: 9780571226320



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Brilliant and funny take on the mystery genre.

Review by

This is a really good use of language, with Lionel Essrog, the narrater of the story, having tourettes syndrome. Essrog is a detective and he works for a mobster, Frank Minna, who gets murdered. Lionel tries to find out who murders him.The language is very much "Brooklyn" and you can picture the characters - always a sign of a good book in my opinion. Lionel is funny, sometimes unintentionally, with his outbursts and strange words.From what I recall (it's some years since I read this book and it is due for a re-read!) the book slowed somewhat towards the end, but it is well worth reading.Eatme.

Review by

Takes the characters form a classic gumshoe book (Handsome Wisecracking Detective, Blond Femme Fatale, Giant Silent Killer) and makes the central character a Tourette's sufferer. The whole novel could have been written as a set up for the scene where our hero attends a zen ceremony. The dialogue is reliably crisp and funny, and it's enjoyable watching the stereotypes move around modern New York. Definite winner.

Review by

Really interesting book narrated by a detective who has Tourette's syndrome.

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