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Debut novel gives form to unfulfilled lives using noir

‘An Honest Living’

‘An Honest Living’ by Dwyer Murphy, Viking, 2022, 275 pages, $26.

Anyone with a penchant for New York City, classic films, antiquarian books, the art of writing, and hard-boiled-boiled detectives enmeshed in noir mysteries are going to immediately embrace “An Honest Living,” Dwyer Murphy’s debut novel.

As Murphy depicts it, there’s a true sense of seediness about New York in the first decade of this new century, an uninviting yet enticing seediness that his novel has a firm grasp of. Its characters seem rather casual about the lives they are living, yet there are growing hints of an inherent discontent.