“Old City Hall” is breathtakingly good. It’s a crisply paced murder-mystery with a satisfying plot and sufficient twists to keep it addictive and infectious to the very end. Actually, I would not pigeonhole “Old City Hall” as just good for the murder-mystery genre – it is a fine book, period.
The novel boasts an intriguing and consistently sympathetic cast of characters, the most colourful and endearing of which is the city of Toronto itself. Rotenberg rounds out the story with historical and cultural background on the city, and behind-the-scenes legal, law enforcement and incarceration insights that add interest and dimension to the overall story without unduly slowing down the plot momentum. And whoa … underpinning the whole thing with a Toronto Maple Leafs subplot of sorts – how great is that? Rotenberg handles a complex narrative with a confidence and deftness that belies the fact that this is his first novel.