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Welcome to The Burning of The Piping Rock! This “film noir in a book” is based upon the real unsolved 1954 arson of Piping Rock Casino in Saratoga Springs New York. Piping Rock Casino was owned by Mafia members Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, and Myer Lansky, who fronted for the social elite of Manhattan and North Shore Long Island’s famed “Gold Coast,” where the name Piping Rock originates.

The Burning of The Piping Rock  is a historical mystery novel, “transcribed” from a confession taped by the dying George A. King, a small town pharmacist with a secret too big for the grave. King tells of the night of August 16, 1954, when he is blackmailed into driving an arsonist known only as Harry the Torch to burn to Piping Rock Casino. King puts you behind the wheel of the arsonist’s `51 Studebaker as the two drive into a web of blackmail, deception and death spun by the mob, Saratoga’s political machine and America’s “social elite.”

The Burning of The Piping Rock is Saratoga fact and fiction that is more than a trip to the races. Start your adventure on the Chapter Excerpts page and browse the All Posts page for more personal insights about the novel.

The Burning of The Piping Rock © Joseph A. Cutshall-King. The Piping Rock WordPress site designed by Black Swan Image Works. All artwork © Black Swan Image Works.


8 responses to “Home & Comments

  1. This is a terrific story. By Chapter 2 I had that hunker-down-on-the-sofa feeling that begins a great read. I did not know much about Saratoga and the mob influence until now, but the parallels with Cuba of the same era are striking. The strong characters and sense of place conjur vivid imagery (acid test of a read-worthy material)…Martin Scorsese, option this book!


  2. Marge Rowland

    Love to buy the book, but can’t seem to findit anywhere


  3. Christopher Ivory

    Overall I enjoyed the story line as well as the characters of George and the mentally bifurcated “Harry the Torch”. The use of the period and “class” specific vernacular was great, especially since it was devoid of modern day PC’isms. The back and forth between G & H was believable and
    what I would’ve imagined coming from two grizzled (literally) WW2 veterans that had both shared horrid experiences from their service…it felt real. That being said, I felt that getting into the details of the characters regional vernacular and affectations tended to disrupt the flow of the story. There were a number of times when you switched between the recording of George’s story and his medical condition that caused me to pause to try and figure out what was going on. Clearly George was a sick and dying man and although that needed to be put out there to remind the reader of George’s desperation, I felt that it got in the way of the story.

    I recently read Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and MT used a similar sort of device in that he went out of his way to have his characters express themselves in the manner of period medieval England. With one character in particular, Alisande (the “bosses wife”), it was making me nuts just trying to decipher what she was saying. To me it would have been a much more enjoyable read had that device been used sparingly.

    Another aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was the description of the various highways and byways of Saratoga and the surrounding area. It adds a bit of realism to the story as I feel like I could hop in the car and drive these same streets (and at some point I probably shall).

    I look forward to the next novel but in the meantime will check into the “Hospital by the Falls”. I enjoy history, especially local history.


  4. I just finished reading The Burning of The Piping Rock on my Kindle and found it to be a strange yet thought-provoking book. Getting into the mind of a terminally ill man as he gets this whole story off his chest was, at times, sad, funny, suspenseful and occasionally tedious. I barely knew George as I grew up in the same town he later settled in, but I did know other members of his family. On a side note, it shocked me to see my mother actually mentioned in the book. Fortunately it was in a good light!

    Thanks for the great book, Joe!


    • Hi Bob,

      I apologize for not having replied! I was sure I had and had asked if you could contact me about your Mom and your siblings. I was going in for something else for my blog and a reminder popped up to reply to you! I thought I had and so apologize again.

      And thank you for your comments. My father loved your mother and father and it was a treat to be able to incorporate her into the novel and say something nice about her. Thank you for giving your blessing on that!

      Bob, would you be willing write a review on Amazon and be just as candid as you were here, so readers would have a real sense of how a reader has reacted? You’ll see that others have commented and have been very frank.

      Thanks! I hope this finds you and your family well!



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