"...(a) striking genre entry."– Kirkus Reviews
In Goldman’s (The Shape-Shifters, 2015, etc.) series thriller, written with private investigator Malatesta, a New York City PI works to uncover hard evidence against a very dangerous con artist.
French actress Sophie Guichard hasn’t starred in a movie in many years. Now in her 60s, she falls for the charms of the much younger Tony Orsini. Sophie’s skeptical son, Jean-Jérôme, nicknamed “J-J,” digs into Tony’s background, and it turns out that he’s a con man with familial ties to the Corsican mob. He also has a girlfriend on the side, Paulette Guyot, with whom he’s been opening sex clubs that cater to many kinds of customers—including pedophiles. J-J reveals this to his mother, but she remains unconvinced of Tony’s vileness. J-J then calls his friend, Detective Jamie Rourke, a New York City Police Department liaison in Brussels, who, in turn, gets in touch with PI Max Christian. The former cop is much closer to Paulette than Jamie is, as she’s currently scouting Miami club locations. Max, however, is busy trying to care of his fractured family, including his wife, Meridew, and teenage son, Jay—the latter of whom a mob boss kidnapped and tortured a year ago. Still, the PI offers to act as a consultant and kicks the case to his pal, Nick Testa, who’s already established in Florida. But Nick and his goddaughter, Dani Longo, soon need Max’s help in South Beach. Max goes undercover at Club Paradoxe to obtain solid proof of Tony’s illegal activities. Unfortunately, some people catch on to the investigation and target Max, Nick, and Dani, which could put others in peril, as well.
Goldman’s novel showcases a couple of savvy but heavily flawed detectives. Max’s persistent drinking, for example, only adds to his troubles, despite the fact that he recently began watering down his drinks with tonic. And both he and Nick, a former special ops soldier, are prone to violence, as well as occasional racial slurs, as when they repeatedly refer to a Vietnamese villain as a “gook.” The bad guys, meanwhile, are involved in multiple atrocities, including human trafficking. They prove to be potent threats to the detectives, and at least one person close to Max winds up in the hospital. The bulk of the novel is made up of dialogue, befitting a story in which characters must constantly hash out investigation specifics. There’s also a fair amount of diverting tough talk; at one point, Dani says that an armed man’s insult “was his death warrant.” However, the book culminates in a rather strange climax that jumps ahead in time, taking place “when the war was over and the smoke had cleared.” Characters then summarize what unfolded during the time jump, but these recapped confrontations lack suspense, as the people telling the stories have clearly survived. Still, the ending offers a thorough resolution that nicely ties up various subplots. Even Max’s old cop partner, Tina Falcone, takes on—and resolves—a murder case.
An absorbing detective tale with plenty of action and antiheroes.
Private eye Max Christian helps a friend who’s running for Congress and enters a seedy world of murder, drugs, and politics in Goldman’s (The Last Minstrel Show, 2012, etc.) latest thriller.
Max’s newest case seems like an easy one at first. His friend, Edith Clift, is eyeing a congressional seat, so she hires him to follow her husband, Henry. She knows that Henry is cheating on her, but she wants proof in order to convince him to remain loyal until the election’s over. But things quickly get hairy: Max finds out that Henry has links to a Guatemalan company, which, in turn, has ties to a mob family. What’s more, Henry becomes a potential murder suspect when a singer he knows is killed. Meanwhile, Edith’s opponent, I.M. Trubble, lives up to his name; his negative ads lead Max to dig up dirt on Trubble while he searches for a killer. Despite the murder investigation, this novel is chiefly a political thriller. This works in the book’s favor, as Edith’s case is more engaging, with its Mafia-style hitmen and scandalous secrets. The bubbling campaign war, too, is intense and rightly described by Max as “ugly.” Indeed, Max isn’t even officially investigating the murder case but simply conferring with the lead investigator, his former New York Police Department partner Tina Falcone. There aren’t many suspects and no real surprises in either case, but there’s resolution across the board. Max is a whimsical protagonist with a freight of eccentricities; he partly takes Edith’s case in order to reunite with his estranged wife, Meridew, who’s Edith’s best friend; and he only has two-thirds of a right ear due to a shootout years ago and which everyone suggests should be “fixed up.” His most notable quirk, however, is the fact that he has frequent conversations with French writer and philosopher Albert Camus. Max calls him a ghost, but Goldman smartly keeps the interactions ambiguous; they could just as well be playing out in Max’s head. Their talks are often humorous—Max disguises one of them by holding a BlackBerry to his ear while in a crowded elevator—but they’re never quite as entertaining as the discussions Max has with the charmingly cynical Tina.
Precarious politics take precedence over murder in this striking genre entry.
A fly-in-campaign-headquarters perspective on the last presidential race, written by Newsweek's special election team, several of whose members also worked on Quest for the Presidency 1988 (1989). A portion of this book appeared in a special issue of the magazine, published a day and a half after the last polls closed on November 3, 1992. No candidate is an FDR to his handlers--or so goes the handlers' refrain to Goldman and associates. Bill Clinton's days of whine and roses came in the primaries, as he erupted into rages over staffers' inability to focus attention on his agenda--though questions about his past were what distracted the media from the message of change. Ross Perot was astonished at the enthusiasm sparked by his hint that he would run for president--then unexpectedly indecisive about managing his wild-card challenge to the two-party system. George Bush was too consumed by foreign policy to notice the tremors beneath his once-solid poll standings and disheartened that the only way to retain his office would be through the partisan dustup that won him a first term (and stinging criticism). The beginning of this account offers the hope of a meaningful interpretation of the results, as the authors depict national disgust with deepening recession and with cynical, corrupt incumbents. Before long, however, they resort to horse-race journalism featuring media meisters who groan as their charges stumble from exhaustion. So accustomed are these spin doctors to their craft that now they use it to explain their own campaign roles, as witnessed in the 100-odd pages of strategy memos in the appendix. The Newsweek team has uncovered some sardonic vignettes, to be sure (e.g., callers asking for Jerry Brown's campaign manager were sometimes told that she was chanting at a staff meeting and could not be disturbed), but too often they follow political warriors like James Carville, James Baker, and Ed Rollins as they sulk in their tents. Instead of sounding the ``quiet national crisis'' that upended the old order, the authors have let puffed-up pols strut and fret during their hour upon the stage. (61 b&w photos, not seen)