Payback

Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge

Fiction - Crime
333 Pages
Reviewed on 12/31/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Steve Bassett was born, raised and educated in New Jersey, and, although far removed during a career as a multiple award-winning journalist, he has always been proud of the sobriquet Jersey Guy. As a natural iconoclast, he joined the dwindling number of itinerant newsmen roaming the countryside in search of, well just about everything.

He has been a featured writer at three newspapers, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Salt Lake Tribune where his coverage of a crippling copper mining strike led to his recruitment by the AP. His exposés gained national recognition earning him three Emmys for his television documentaries. His book, “Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War,” was published in 2013. “Payback-Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge” follows his multi-award winning “Father Divine’s Bikes,” the first book of his historic noir Passaic River Trilogy, set in 1946 Newark. Awards for “Payback” include 2020 Reader’s Favorite Silver Medal Fiction-Crime; 2020 Elite Choice Award Winner Noir Fiction; 2020 Reader Views Literary Award First Place Mystery/Thriller; and 2020 American Fiction Award Winner General Fiction. It is being translated into Spanish for worldwide distribution.

The Trilogy’s third book is to be launched in late 2021. Bassett currently resides in Placitas, New Mexico with his wife Darlene Chandler Bassett.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Payback by Steve Bassett, in 1946, the right arm of a third victim is found in the Newark city dump. Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner Kevin McClosky discover all three victims were connected to an American-German Bund, with sympathies for the Nazi regime and Hitler. As they struggle to solve the murders, elsewhere in Newark they become entangled in a dark web of corruption, violence, and greed. A priest races to save an abused 6-year-old from the clutches of an abusive couple set on adopting her. The emotional and physical scars the child bears seem a worthy reason to save the child from her fate. An abusive husband, with connections to the Mob, faces the ultimate payback from his battered wife, Grace. As she plans her revenge, Grace will stop at nothing to make her husband pay, while at the same time enjoying her affair with a married cop. There is also racial hostility growing on the streets of Newark when a respected war veteran seeks revenge on a local racist. As the two experienced cops try to solve the murders before a fourth victim is found, will the streets of Newark find peace and harmony or are the divisions and hate buried too deep?

Payback by Steve Bassett is definitely not a book for bedtime reading. From the first chapter, the bar of tension and suspense was set very high and I was definitely not disappointed as the story progressed; it just got better and better for me. Each subplot is strong and interesting and these have been effortlessly entwined together. Every character is interesting, memorable, realistic and with a detailed backstory. I thought the way the backstories were subtly included in the dialogue and narrative told us so much about the characters and gave their actions believability. Although the book is written in a pulp fiction style and skips from one timeframe and story to another, and introduces new characters continually, there was no confusion with the plot. The themes of racism, religion, violence and child abuse were written extremely well and authentically. This is a stand-alone novel written by a remarkably talented author.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Payback by Steve Bassett tells 'Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge.' It is 1946, Newark. Two bodies have been dragged out of the Passaic River, both badly mutilated. At the city dump, the sawn-off arm from a third body is found packaged up. All three victims were Hitler lovers, belonging to the German-American Bund. Their deaths were the price they paid for their support of a madman. Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco doesn’t take long to realize that he and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, are in way too deep as they fight against a powerful church, Nazism, racism, greed, and intrigue in their bid to solve the murders. And another murder may be about to surface too. M.L. Kraus, responsible for manufacturing Zyklon B, is facing multiple indictments in Germany for war crimes and his fate is about to be decided. It isn’t just Kraus who will be affected by the outcome but the whole of Europe and one madman is watching from the banks of the river, waiting for his chance to exact more revenge.

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is one of the most intense action thrillers I have ever read. Set in 1940s Newark, the story takes us on a tension-filled journey of murder and revenge, from the atrocities of Nazi Germany to a putrid, rotten river in Newark. The book grabs you right from the start and, scarily, it’s a story that could be only too true these days. Filled with action, the story steadily takes you towards its conclusion, introducing an eclectic group of characters, all well-developed to the extent that you get to know them intimately. It deals with the rise of Nazism, racial tension, greedy powerful churches and more very well and draws you into a tale that is gripping, horrifying and yet exciting at the same time. This is the second in a series. I didn’t read the first book but I don’t feel that I was missing any relevant details – I would recommend reading them as a series though.

Ray Simmons

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate, and Revenge is the sequel to Father Divine's Bikes, the award-winning novel by Steve Bassett. I read that first novel and it is certainly worthy of the awards that it received. Father Divine’s Bikes is an excellent novel and I recommend you read it before reading its sequel. Not because you can’t understand the sequel if you haven’t read the first book, but because it is valuable in order to get the tone and feel of the era. This is an era that will be totally strange and alien to most young people and by reading Father Divine’s Bikes, you get a taste for that unique period of American history. Both books are great, so you have nothing to lose, but any book titled Payback: Tales of Love, Hate, and Revenge is going to be a powerful tale, no matter when it takes place.

As demonstrated in his first book, Steve Bassett knows how to write. He also knows how to weave all the elements of a good story into a great book. I loved these characters. I loved many of them because they are rare. That is, they are rarely written about. But I knew that they were out there, and it is good to see someone bring them to life with the skills of a master. Steve Bassett takes Nick Cisco, Kevin McClosky, Connie, and all the other characters of this magnificent novel, major and minor, and inserts them into an action-packed plot that is fueled by greed, love, hate, and revenge. The characters, the plot, and the setting are all handled superbly. I loved Payback and I think most readers will too.

Christian Sia

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is another gorgeous treat from crime fiction writer, Steve Bassett, a sequel to Father Divine’s Bikes. Three ghastly murders plunge the city of Newark into a state of awe and panic, just after WWII, in 1946. Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and Sergeant Kevin McClosky quickly understand the political motivations and the MO behind the murders. There is no doubt that the killer is out to send a powerful message because all the victims have the same political affiliation. While there is a war criminal being prosecuted, a murderer prowls the Passaic River, his eyes set on the next target.

Steve Bassett’s characters are exceptional, multidimensional, and psychologically rich. Cisco is a very sophisticated character, a man with issues related to his marriage and a victim of disdain from his Christian family. His wife has left him and his family isn’t okay with his affair with another woman. There is a heavy psychological weight on this character, and then he has to navigate a very complex crime landscape. The plot is ingeniously executed, with numerous crisis moments and powerful players poised to enrich the conflict. While the story centers on one man’s obsessive need for revenge, it explores strong themes, including political conflict, religious fanaticism, family, and love. Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge features characters that are compelling, richly developed, and real, and the plot is deftly handled to allow the role of each character to come out distinctly in the narrative. This is an engrossing read for fans of crime thrillers.

Romuald Dzemo

Payback: A Tale of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is a fast-paced, skillfully crafted crime thriller with rock-solid characters and a cunning plot that follows the work of a sinister murderer bent on revenge. Set in 1946, Newark, the story introduces readers to Lieutenant Nick Cisco and Sergeant Kevin McClosky embroiled in the investigation of two bodies that have floated down the Passaic River. When the body count hits three, the detectives are sure they are dealing with a killer with a solid motive, one who is targeting members of the German-American Bund. But who is behind the Nazi Bund killings and whose body is next?

This novel is so beautifully written, with subplots that introduce exciting characters, strong political themes, family dynamics, and the internal crisis going on in the life of one of the key characters. Steve Bassett creates characters that readers can easily identify with and weaves reality into the writing. The setting paints a vivid picture of post-war Newark, exposing the intrigue and the shady workings of the German-American elite. The story follows the work of a villain who is out to exact revenge and as the tension builds, the reader can only imagine the worst. Payback: A Tale of Love, Hate and Revenge has a lot of merits, from the sophisticated characters to the exciting plot points, from the ingenuity of the storytelling craft to the beautiful prose. Readers will find a lot to explore in this book. Steve Bassett knows what it takes to keep readers turning the pages.

K.C. Finn

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is a work of dramatic historical crime fiction, penned by author Steve Bassett. Set in Newark during the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, we find an America setting aside its broken hearts to try to move on with progress. But when two dead bodies and a third, mysterious severed arm are recovered from popular dumping grounds, Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco is called to the case despite his own personal dilemmas. As the bodies begin to share tenuous links with the recent war and the supposed uprising of the German people, things go from bad to worse for a veteran cop from all angles.

Author Steve Bassett has created a truly unique drama like nothing I’ve ever read before. Though it has all of the qualities of an experienced cop falling apart during his own personal and religious crises, the unique blend between influences of the war, ties to the Catholic church and the international implications of his murder investigation makes for a compelling and entirely original work. Nick Cisco is a well developed and likable man, even for his faults and ambitions, and we are treated to a close narration of events as we follow him around the crime scenes and suspects with interest. Bassett is careful not to give too much away, constructing a tight plot with believable yet quite incredible twists. Overall, Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is a superb choice for crime fans everywhere, and for historical fiction lovers looking for a new type of drama to envelop them.

Rabia Tanveer

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is the story of two police officers who are trying to find out why three people were brutally murdered. Set in 1946, Newark, Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco isn’t really in the best position to give his absolute attention to his work. His wife has left him and his family has disowned him because of his affair with the beautiful Grace. So when two bodies and a severed arm are found, he and his partner Sergeant Kevin McClosky are given this case to crack it as quickly as possible. The more they investigate, the more they realize how crucial this case is. The bodies seem to be of three Nazi/Hitler enthusiasts and there is someone out there who is looking revenge from everyone who seems to be involved with Nazis in any way. What are Nick and Kevin going to do? Can they solve this case before more bodies start piling up?

Action-packed, intense and very well developed, the story had me hooked from the opening scene. I enjoyed how Nick is not perfect, but he does his job the best way he can. He and Kevin make a good team; they complement each other and make sure to put in the effort where the other is lacking. The author did a wonderful job of depicting the time and era; he portrayed it well, which means he did his research before writing. Nick is one of those memorable characters that stand out not because they are perfect, but because of how real they feel. He knows he makes mistakes, he knows that he is not perfect, but he still tries his best. I enjoyed the pace and I especially enjoyed the development of the story. It is a riveting story that gives you everything you crave from crime fiction.

Amy Raines

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is written by Steve Bassett. Supporting Hitler in Newark in 1946 is a good way to turn up dead. Cisco and McClosky had worked their way up through the department until they were homicide detectives. Always looking out for one another, they were bonded by a strong sense of trust and understanding even when one or the other did something slightly questionable or downright illegal. The detectives caught a case dealing with the dismembered bodies of men with the same markings that tie them to Bund Camps. Could an abused little girl with a broken arm, in the care of the Diocese, lend more weight to their case? Can the detectives figure out who is behind the murders with the city of Newark making so much money from the aftermath of World War II? Can they solve the crimes without getting themselves killed in the process?

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is an interesting ride through the tangled mess from World War II. Grisly murders that link to Nazi Bund Camps bring the plot into full swing as one after another the dismembered bodies are discovered. The characters are very well developed with past stories of their own that clearly outline why each of them behaves in the way that they do. McClosky’s gambling habits and Cisco’s infidelity add a very personalized touch that shows how even some of the best detectives on the case can be led astray. Can they possibly find their way back to doing what needs to be done to stop the murders in their city? I love how Bassett takes the reader on a suspenseful, mysterious ride through the mobster underbelly of a city profiting from the spoils of war.

Ankita Shukla

Acting homicide Chief Lieutenant Nick Cisco is up to his eyeballs in unsolved homicide cases. Dead bodies are appearing left, right, and center and the slow pace of the investigations has made him a laughing stock in the media. When mutilated dead bodies start showing up with tattooed swastikas and different camp names, the reason for these murders is clear. However, to avoid the Nazi Bund from coming back into action and with fully-fledged anti-German hostility a probable threat, Nick Cisco and his partner, Detective Sergeant Kevin McClosky, have been ordered to keep these cases under wraps. Amidst these neverending professional issues, Nick is going through personal turmoil as well. His wife left him when she found out that he was cheating on her. As much as Nick loved his wife (Connie), he couldn't leave the other woman. Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett takes readers on a roller coaster ride of homicide investigations fueled by an insatiable thirst for climbing the ladder of success.

What constitutes a homicide investigation? An inquisitive brain and experienced detectives, you say? Yes, but that's not all! Political agendas, a modified story to prevent any racial outrage (or a probable civil war), and overworked detectives are few other undeniable aspects of a homicide investigation. Payback, like life, doesn't revolve around only one murder investigation. Although Nazi hate murders were on the priority list, other ongoing investigations were running parallel. Steve Bassett has an excellent vocabulary. There were a lot of words that appeared to be a part of cop/military language. For English language lovers, this book is a delightful treat. I could not pick one favorite character, so I picked both the detectives as my favorite characters. Nick's personal issues made him relatable, and Kevin's quick wit established him as a strong character. I recommend Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett to readers who enjoy a sneak peek into the world of homicide investigations fueled by political interventions.

Lit Amri

Steve Bassett returns with the second book of the Passaic River Trilogy, Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge. It's 1946 and the dark underbelly of Newark city is claiming more souls. Detectives Nick Cisco and Kevin McClosky are dealing with two dead floaters pulled from the Passaic River when they receive news about a right arm found in the city dump. A pro-Nazi background connects the three victims and sheds an obvious light on their killers' motive. They have their work cut out for them as they face a number of obstacles. Murders, Hitler Bund camps, revenge, abuse, and even marital problem - how will the two detectives fare?

As a second installment in the series, Payback is enough of a standalone for newcomers. Compared to its predecessor, Father Divine's Bikes, Payback dives further into the crime perspective of the story as the returning protagonists, Cisco and McClosky, do their jobs with their own unique grit. Cisco and his marriage predicament took a bit of a center stage for me. That said, I expected the depth of the characters' emotions and the consequences of their actions to easily evoke readers' sentiments, and Steve Bassett definitely delivers in these aspects. Despite their slightly vague connection in the beginning, the subplots gradually converge as the story progresses, completing the overarching storyline. All in all, some readers may feel ambivalent about its heavy themes but Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge is no doubt compelling. It's another commendable story from Bassett for the series, and I'm curious about the next grisly tales that 40s Newark has to offer.

Ruffina Oserio

A society rocked by political and social unrest and two homicide cops embroiled in an investigation that will test their experience and skills in many ways. Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is a crime thriller that features compelling characters in a historical setting. It is Newark in 1946, and the pain of loss from the war is still deep in the hearts of many people when two mutilated bodies are found in the Passaic River. When the arm of a third victim is found at the city dump, the message becomes very clear since the three victims have something in common: they all belong to the German-American Bund. Is the murderer sending a strong warning to fans of Hitler and who is he?

Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett is a fast-paced, engaging thriller with elaborately developed characters and a cunning plot. The crime is horrific and creates a powerful premise for the conflict. The author has the reader guessing and wanting to know what happens next. The drama is intense and it permeates the entire writing. One of the things I enjoyed is the author’s deft handling of character. For instance, Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco is a man living with serious emotional strain after the rupture with his wife. Things aren’t so good with his family members who do not approve of his affair with Grace. The author brings family and social elements into the story that help deepen the characters. This is a riveting novel that has strong hints of racism, religious fanaticism, political intrigue, and other themes. Steve Bassett is a great storyteller with a unique gift of infusing realism into his writing and humanity into the characters.