NICK CHIARKAS – Veteran – Police Officer – Attorney – Author

Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that “Nick was unlikely to ever complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.” Instead, Nick became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a U.S. Army Paratrooper; a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency. On the way, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University, a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. How many mothers are told their child is hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to desperation? That’s why Nick wrote “Weepers”—for them.

 

Weepers: The murder of an undercover cop in a New York City Housing Project in 1957 has unexpected ties to the unsolved disappearance of a young father walking home in those same Projects with his son, Angelo, on Christmas Eve 1951. The only witness to the cop killing is Angelo, now 13, as he was on his way to set fire to a grocery store at 2:00 am. The killers saw him. These events forge a union between a priest, a Mafia boss, a police detective, and Angelo, a gang member. In Weepers, we see that if you drop a rock into the East River, the ripples will go all the way to Italy. In the end, Weepers shows us that the courage of the underdog—despite fear and moral ambiguity—will conquer intimidation.

Awards for Weepers:

• Firebird Grand Prize Best Book Award (2022)
• Best Mystery Novel for 2017 the John E Weaver Excellent Reads Award by Earthshine. https://www.speakuptalkradio.com/nick-chiarkas-firebird-book-award-winner/
• Award Winner – Best Novel of 2016 by the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA)
• Award for Best Book Award by Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA)
• Award for Best Young Adult Novel for 2016 by Bookvana
• Award for Best Crossover (Mystery & Young Adult) Best Books Award for 2017
• Award for Best Young Adult Coming-of-Age by Readers’ Favorite for 2018

Nunzio‘s Way: Nunzio drifted back to his childhood there on the Lower East Side. The narrow, trash-lined streets and alleys weaved together decaying brownstone tenements with common toilets—one per floor. Alone at ten years old, after his mother died, he learned to survive in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the city. He shoveled coal and guarded the produce stored there by the ships docked off South Street to pay for living in the cellar at 57 Canon Street. After school, Nunzio mostly walked the streets. He recalled the putrid smell of decomposing cats and dogs covered with a trembling blanket of insects, rats, and things he didn’t recognize. And lying in the gutter against the sidewalk on Pike Street was a horse, with old and fresh whip wounds, shrouded in a cloak of flying and crawling insects. Only three years later, at the ripe age of thirteen, Nunzio killed his first man, a hulking longshoreman people called “the bear.” His life and the lives of four of his friends changed forever. Plenty of other horrors and hardships confronted him throughout his life, but when he closed his eyes, Nunzio saw the horse.

“Nunzio’s Way” In 1960, Declan Arden, an ambitious New York City lawyer, asked his boyhood friend and client, Nunzio Sabino, the most powerful organized crime boss of his time, to help him win the election for mayor. Nunzio agrees to help Declan, telling him, “In this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people.” In Italy, after killing a top member of the Gomorra, Heather Potter, arrives in New York City seeking vengeance on the people who murdered her family. Those people include Nunzio Sabino and Mac Pastamadeo. Mac is the father of Angelo, the leader of the Weepers gang.

NICK’S FAVORITE WORKSPACE

Five fun facts most people don’t know about me (Nick Chiarkas)

  1. I received the Law Enforcement Commendation Medal from the Sons of the American Revolution, and I received the Equal Justice Medal from the Legal Aid Society – These two awards are not in conflict but in harmony. I believe that no one is above the law’s enforcement nor below its protection.
  2. I raised my two oldest children mostly as a single dad – just the three of us. They taught me a lot.
  3. I was one of a handful of NYPD cops sent to Woodstock in 1969 to provide security – it was incredible.
  4. While in an Army hospital, I received a very kind letter from J.D. Salinger.
  5. I was in the movie The Anderson Tapes (Starring: Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, and Christopher Walken).

Available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, University of Wisconsin Bookstore, Mystery to Me, other local independent bookstores, and from the publisher.

8 Comments

  1. Madeline Gornell

    Great interview, Nick! You should be sooo proud of your accomplishments. A true inspiration…. continued success!

    Reply
  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    Oh my goodness. From your mother’s low expectations to a stunning career. As a police officer tasked with security at Woodstock, could you define “incredible?”

    Congratulations on a stellar career, and George, I hope you’re enjoying your road trip! Be careful out there.

    Reply
  3. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    Nick, you seem to me a contradiction, but a steadfast believer in the law. Even with all of its faults, I too, believe in the law. Justice can come in many forms. Your experiences are amazing and it is obvious you have worked hard. Not that I am anybody of importance, but you have convinced me to read your books Thank you for sharing your well deserved awards and your resume of law enforcement.

    Reply
  4. Nick Chiarkas

    Thank you, Mike, I truly appreciate your generous words, my friend.

    Reply
  5. Marilyn Meredith

    Great interview! What a history–amazing!
    That teacher had no idea about you.

    Reply
    • Nick Chiarkas

      Thanks for your kind words, Marilyn. They are most appreciated, my friend.

      Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Wow, what a life story! Hearing all that Nick has accomplished is an inspiration to us all. He’s the stuff that true heroes are made of–a true self-made man.

    Reply

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