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Woodside native’s novel recalls Genovese murder

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The characters were composites of people he knew growing up. The scenes were locations he frequented before.Gillen was simply writing about what he knew - Queens.Gillen's 332-page novel is a thriller about a beautiful, psychopathic murderess determined to frame two heroic NYPD detectives. To do so, the story's villainess, Kitty, commits illicit sexual acts and aims to imitate the famous Kitty Genovese murder, a 1964 case in which dozens of people witnessed the stabbing death of the 28-year-old woman in Kew Gardens but declined to call the police.The novel is packed with the usual elements of a successful thriller: sex, suspense, tension and violence. But it's Gillen's scene-setting that really makes the novel an enjoyable read for any New Yorker. Some of Gillen's token scenes include a shootout at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, a murder in the garage of a Long Island City highrise and a fatal fall from an N train platform. The germ of "Kitty's Rules" was born a couple years ago while Gillen ate lunch with a friend. They were at Austin's Ale House in Forest Hills when the conversation turned to the Genovese murder and Gillen started to imagine such a murder story unraveling today."You put something in a setting that is otherwise placid and it makes it more profound," Gillen said when describing why he chose this neighborhood to set his tale.Even as a busy attorney, Gillen tries to write whenever he has a spare moment - whether it's at home, on the airplane or in hotel rooms. He started writing years ago after attending a neighborhood reunion in Queens when he discovered the need to write about his childhood in the area. Raised in Boulevard Gardens, an apartment complex on 31st Avenue that houses roughly 1,000 families, Gillen said he's watched the transformation of Queens over the years.Back then, he says, Queens was not as developed. "You interacted with people. There were plenty of kids my age. We played sports. You weren't rushed to the emergency ward every time you got hurt," he said. "Today, it's a totally different generation."In 1961, Gillen left Queens to attend law school in Washington, D.C., where he still lives today with his family. He often returns to visit his sister and the old neighborhood, making recreating the scenes for his novels easy.But even if he never returned, Gillen would have no trouble finding words when it comes to describing New York."It's hard to get New York City out of your system," he said. "It's a fascinating place."

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