The Pequod Review:
Billy Phelan's Greatest Game is the second novel in William Kennedy's "Albany Cycle" trilogy of books. This one is set in 1938 and involves a small-time hustler (Billy Phelan) who works the pool halls, bowling alleys and card rooms of working-class Albany. The book's plot is a bit weak -- it begins promisingly as Billy finds himself pulled into a kidnapping scheme, but it becomes implausibly convoluted as further details are revealed -- and Kennedy's prose is too self-consiously loquacious. But his descriptions of pre-war Albany are quite strong and his setting is so vivid that the city almost becomes a character itself.